Al-Qaeda Eyes Yemen

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Then, days later, Yemen’s Defense Minister, General Mohammed Nasser Ahmed, survived an assassination attempt by a suicide bomber who attacked his convoy in the southern Yemen town of Tawahi. It was the second such assassination attempt on Ahmed, the last coming in August when another convoy he was riding in hit a roadside bomb.

Of course, Saleh’s quest to hold onto power is fairly understandable in that dictator and son combos, such as in Libya and Egypt, tend to face exile, imprisonment or death once they relinquish power. That view was best expressed by Tawakul Karaman, head of Yemen’s human rights group, Women Journalists Without Chains, who said anti-government protesters won’t be satisfied until “we arrest him (Saleh) and bring him to court.”

Yet, despite his troubles, Saleh still enjoys some strong reeds of support among the Persian Gulf nations of the GCC as well as from the United States, all of whom fear Saleh’s abrupt removal will hasten Yemen’s spiral into another Somalia.

Those fears include Yemen’s location astride the Gulf of Aden, a location in which three million barrels of oil sail past on tankers every day. Already shipping in the Gulf of Aden has been the target of 188 Somali pirate attacks in the past year. Now, disaffected and impoverished Yemenis may be looking to join the Somali pirate activity or go into business for themselves. According to one Gulf military analyst, there are already signs of collusion among “Yemeni coastal actors and the (Somali) pirates.”

For the United States, Yemen’s collapse will only serve to cement AQAP’s status as what CIA Director David Petraeus has called “the most dangerous regional node in the global jihad.” The danger posed by AQAP to America has already twice been on display when the terror group attempted to send bombs to hit targets in Detroit (2009) and Chicago (2010).

Of course, the United States isn’t waiting around to see if Saleh survives to go after AQAP. With four drone airstrips in the Horn of Africa, the United States has already been targeting AQAP and al Shabab insurgents with missile strikes and special operations forces.

As White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said earlier in September, “We reserve the right to take unilateral action [against al Qaeda] if or when other governments are unwilling or unable to take the necessary actions themselves.”

Moreover, some in Washington see Ali Abdullah Saleh as more of an impediment to fighting AQAP, given his propensity to use American counter-terrorism aid to crush internal dissent instead of terrorists.

However, while Saleh’s reliability as an ally may be in serious question, he’s at least a known quantity. As Saleh himself has said countless times, his immediate departure could lead to unparalleled chaos in Yemen. While Saleh’s assessment may rightfully be viewed as self-serving, as events continue to indicate, it’s a scenario that looks more likely by the day.

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  • Fred Dawes

    No and no al Qaeda owns that country and with the help of our so called CIA/NSA WE HAVE A FIFTH COLUMN WHO HAVE THE POWER INSIDE THE fbi/cia/nsa To kill Americans and help our enemies once you see that all is totally understood why this world is like it is.

    We Need 20 million Americans to do the right thing on our enemies here, think tree and rope but before the rats see god in the face 50 lashing on TV Would help any who want to help the enemies of freedom, it will never happen but some day it will happen to free americans by muslims, sad fact but we do live in a fools nation.

  • StephenD

    Just total it up for us will ya? How much blood and treasure will this cost us? You know we're going to open our pockets to whomever is in charge when the dust settles (thinking we can persuade them to like us ~ HA).

  • maturin20

    Sad news.

  • kafir4life

    I'd like to take this opportunity to offer condolences to the members and leadership of cair (aka al-quada in USA) to the passing of your colleague, co-religionist and spiritual leader al-awlaki. May he occupy hell at the right hand of mohamat the pedophilic madman, and inventor of islam.
    allahu snackbar!