A U.S. Role in Yemen

A U.S. Role in Yemen

For the last month, Washington has been abuzz with talk about what the United States government should do about Yemen. Should the U.S. give Ye­men more military aid? Should it begin a large-scale economic assistance pro­gram? Should it help Yemen establish a governmental reform program, help implement a de-radicalization program, or boost special forces training? Yemen is a weak and poor nation, and the United States is a strong and wealthy one. With the right package of assistance, most assume, we can work together on shared goals.

The reality is messier than that, though. From a Yemeni perspective, the common threats are few. For Yemen's long-serving president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, al-Qaida in the Ara­bian Peninsula is a third-order issue, far less troubling than boiling insurgencies in the north and south of the country, swiftly dwindling oil rev­enues, a plummeting water table and massive unemployment. In fact, to many among Yemeni's leadership, al-Qaida's 200 to 300 followers in the country must seem to be less a threat than an opportunity. An increased U.S. military commitment to Ye­men would pump weapons and training into the country that can be employed against a wide range of threats that have nothing to do with al-Qaida. A flood of money would create opportunities not only for contracting, but for graft, corruption and ex­tortion.

This would not be the first time that the government of Yemen has tried to turn hardship into opportunity. In the past, rather than try to tamp out religious radical­ism in the country, the government of Yemen has tried to co-opt its leaders and employ them in fighting the country's northern rebellion.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.