Yemen’s many problems could soon render the country ungovernable, enabling the lawlessness in the Horn of Africa to leap across the Gulf of Aden, says Trends magazine.
March 11, 2010 10:13 by Olivia Cuthbert
With World Bank figures estimating that 40 percent of Yemen’s population lives below the poverty line and widespread disillusionment among Yemenis toward their government, the country has become a fertile breeding ground for Al-Qaeda, who have long considered Yemen a prime location from which to launch their global operations. This was made clear when Al-Qaeda’s leading strategist, Abu Mus’ab al-Suri, described Yemen as the “fundamental pillar” of jihad in his influential Call for a Global Islamic Resistance.
Concern over rising extremism in Yemen has been mounting since Saudi Arabian and Yemeni branches of Al-Qaeda united early last year to form A.Q.A.P.: Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. However it wasn’t until a Yemen-based branch of Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the foiled bomb plot on a US airliner last December that the world paid any serious attention to Yemen’s problems.
At the London Summit leaders debated the extent to which they should intervene in Yemen’s fight against extremism, and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pledged comprehensive support to Yemen, whose many problems, she acknowledged, could not be solved by “military operations alone.”
While Yemen’s overstretched government cannot combat rising extremism alone, Western powers run a great risk of inflaming tensions should they decide to launch another “rescue mission” in the Middle East.
Yemen’s foreign minister, Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, told the Associated Press that “there is a lot of sensitivity about foreign troops coming to Yemeni territory” and left no room for doubt that military intervention would be extremely unwelcome, saying “I’m sure that their experiences in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan will be very useful to learn from … direct intervention complicates things.”
Al-Qirbi has stated that Yemen’s government would welcome Western aid in the form of help establishing more counterterrorism units, training, and logistical support, “but not in any other capacity.”
Yemen is the latest in a line of countries chosen by Al-Qaeda to set up bases in. Similar conditions have existed in all the places in which Al-Qaeda has based its operations, including Afghanistan, Sudan, and Somalia; all failed states with a weak or non-existent government.
Examining the largely negative impact that Western intervention has had on each may provide clues as to how the growing threat of extremism should be tackled in Yemen.
First seen in Trends magazine.