Fighting the Yemen Front

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Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed credit for the cargo plane bomb plots, making the Yemeni government’s fight against the terrorist group a central front. Unfortunately, the government is weak and corrupt and has its hands full with two other conflicts. The battle ahead with Al-Qaeda in Yemen will not be easy and may require direct U.S. intervention.

The Yemeni government is battling a secessionist movement in the south and has a shaky truce with the radical Shiite Houthi rebels in the north that could break at any moment. Last year, Iran waged a major proxy war against the Yemenis and Saudis using the Houthis. The government’s resources are overextended and like in Pakistan, the government lacks effective control over large swaths of territory. As one senior diplomat explained, “the government is practically caged in the capital” of Sana’a.

Already, the fight has been costly as at least 70 police officers and soldiers have been killed by Al-Qaeda in the past month.The Yemeni government has sent an additional 3,000 soldiers to participate in its offensive in Abyan, Shabwan and Marib Provinces where 300 to 500 Al-Qaeda members have found refuge. The high number of Yemenis in the terrorist group indicates they have a significant pool of support beyond their actual membership.

Bin Laden’s following in Yemen is so strong that the editor of Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Abdul Bari Atwan, says it is possible that the terrorist mastermind is actually hiding there. Atwan says that when he met Bin Laden in November 1996, Bin Laden said that he’d go to Yemen if he was kicked out of Afghanistan because “its mountains are like Tora Bora’s and the country will embrace me and be warm towards me.” Atwan adds that a Yemeni tribal leader told him that he was contacted by Bin Laden before 9/11 to discuss a possible safe haven.

The population’s distrust of the government further complicates any offensive against Al-Qaeda, as many Yemenis believe the government is exaggerating the threat from Al-Qaeda or altogether making it up as a way of getting Western aid and clamping down on opposition. President Saleh’s insecurity has led him to install family members as the heads of his national security apparatus, a move designed to stabilize his rule but that creates further distance from the population.

The Yemeni government’s past willingness to coddle Al-Qaeda has allowed the terrorist group to establish a base which now must be removed. The government has openly negotiated with radical Islamic militants since 2005, a process that meetings with a former Al-Qaeda official once seen next to Osama Bin Laden. In January 2008, a member of Al-Qaeda in Yemen confirmed the deal-making, saying some of them had been recruited to fight the Shiite Houthis. These dealings apparently included the release of imprisoned detainees, such as when 170 suspected members of Al-Qaeda were freed in February 2009 after they pledged to change their ways.

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  • Chezwick_Mac

    We've already used hell-fire missiles to kill Al Qaeda in Yemen a couple of years ago. If direct intervention is necessary, let's confine ourselves to drone and/or bombing raids. America does not have the money or the manpower to get sucked into another ground war in the Middle East.

  • SHmuelHaLevi

    The American "diplomatic Wars" run from the State Department and not from the Pentagon set in place during and after Nam have not even once provided a gain for the US National interests. Outside Grenada, not a single such War has resulted on WINS.
    If a "diplomatic war" would be the idea behind an "intervention" in Yemen, that would be a terrible error added to the previous ones. Either go in to flatten to joint and win or please stay at home.

  • USMCSniper

    Obly if all of Yemen is a free fire zone. We should not have the burden in combat to protect the Muslim population like in Afghanistan with this rule for the American troops. I am not completely versed on all the rules of engagement, but I do know our troops in Afghanistan can’t shoot at anyone carrying a weapon unless they are shot at first. I believe that once he/she has been shot at they (our troops) must then get permission to fire back from a Muslim person attached to our troops, their purpose being determining if the person/persons are civilians or insurgents. I think I got that right. How would Obama like it if one of our troops was one of his daughters. Again I tell you stop listening to what he says and watch what he does. This is a clear indication of Obama’s Muslims lives being more important than American Lives.

  • SoCal

    I agree with Sniper; free fire zone or nothing!! Islam is a cancer and if you not willing to kill it then it will metastasize and kill you! I put no faith in our leadership in this country. If this is our best and brightest then we are in serious trouble. When we have taken to groping nuns, old ladies and children at airports in the name of security well, hell. No more PC WARS!!

  • badaboo

    W've got the technology to track these bastards , and send a droned right up their areses ….and screw Yemen . If they wont do it , then we will . If they want to let them loose after capture , then we should be waiting to take them out , the minute they're set free .

  • Wesley69

    A mlitary intervention with US boots on the ground is out of the question. However, US drone attacks and Stealth bombing should be increased. As for additional ground troops, Yemen may need to ask Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt. If Yemen falls, a country friendly to al-Queda and Iran would command the entrance to the Red Sea shipping lanes.

  • ObamaYoMoma
  • Ret. Marine

    I’ll agree with most of the commentators here. Why waste our most precious assets, our fellow Patriot, of the all volunteer armed forces on a hell hole known not to be fit for human existence. Not one of these insane creatures of this waste of humanity is worth one of our finest, not one. When they start to be a direct threat to our life, I’m sure there are more of us here willing to give it to them in spades than they care to realize or anticipate.

  • captaingrumpy

    If Europe won't join the US in war then they can just give money.This should please he Libtards over there.

  • badaboo

    Wesley69 , Yemen IS friendly to al Queda . That's the reason it hasn't "fell ". LOL….they capture al Queda terrorists , then let them go after "they promise to be good " . It's a game reminiscent of the P.A. capturing "bad guys " throwing them in jail , then letting them out the back door . Of course , no boots on the ground in Yemen , there is no need .Drones and Tomahawks are all we need .

  • badaboo

    It's a dual game , a farce ! People forget the attack on the US Embassy there , they forget the USS Cole , they forget the reticence on the part of Yemen to co-operate with the FBI investigation into the attack on that ship . Hopefully our intelligence community is well aware of this obvious duplicity and plays the game with Yemen , and they [Yemen] are just too stupid to realize it . lol….or maybe that's just wishfull thinking on my part …it wouldn't be the first time that the CIA and NSA were the last to know .