Pages: 1 2
The economic problems are immense with high unemployment, a drought affecting agriculture, rampant corruption and cronyism, and an economy that is contracting. Most Yemenis live on less than $2 a day and there are chronic shortages of food and fuel.
The United States is in a difficult position, having supported Saleh for years as both nations have battled AQAP. The US has maintained close ties with some of the military factions run by Saleh’s cronies and relatives in order to keep the pressure on al-Qaeda. The major question for the US is will President Hadi reform the military by removing those factions who have been supporting our efforts against the terrorists? Our aid to Yemen doesn’t amount to much — $50 million in military aid and about the same amount in economic assistance. In short, we have little leverage with the new government, and General al-Ahmar, who it is thought will have a prominent role in the new military that might emerge from the chaos, wants the Obama administration to alter its tactics against the terrorists. Currently, our strategy is to attack a few dozen leadership targets using drone strikes. But these strikes have killed some Yemeni civilians and Ahmar has said that this must stop.
For Hadi, reforming the military means removing many of Saleh’s family from positions they have held — and exploited — for a long time. Some observers believe they won’t go without a fight. If that’s the case, there will be civil war. Other tribesmen who had taken up arms against Saleh will also likely get into the chaotic mix.
Saleh also has allies and cronies in the ministries. Hadi will have to maneuver around clashing loyalties and the possibility that many hands in government will be raised against him, hoping to see Saleh back in power when he returns.
With little control over the military and government, few give Hadi much of a chance to succeed. And the more chaos reigns, the more AQAP gains. The terrorists suffered a blow recently when one of their senior commanders lost his life in a bloody family dispute. And there are factions within AQAP who disagree violently with many of the tactical moves made by the terrorists over the last year.
But this internal turmoil hasn’t slowed AQAP down much. Last month, they captured Radaa, a key southern city and held it for days until withdrawing following a deal to release some prisoners. And they held on to the provincial capital of Zinjibar for weeks last year until the regular army was finally able to dislodge them. US officials say they are growing in number and still have as a major goal attacking inside the US.
Yemen is going to need massive assistance from the international community — both economic and diplomatic — if it is to avoid the catastrophe of total collapse. And even if it receives it, there is little that can be done to bring factions so long opposed to one another together in order to build a civil society out of the blood and chaos of the last year.
Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.
Pages: 1 2