Yemen: America's Friend, America's Enemy Essay

898 words - 4 pages

On October 12, 2000 terrorists belonging to Al-Qa’Ida in the country of Yemen successfully orchestrated a terrorist attack in the Gulf of Aden on the USS Cole, a Naval guided missile destroyer. This attack was a signal that the reach of Al-Qaida had extended beyond the borders of Afghanistan into the Arabian peninsula. The President of Yemen is America’s ally in the war on terrorism and proved so by denouncing the attack on the USS Cole and the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Though Yemen fosters terrorists and is home to Al-Qa’Ida the country is still an ally in many ways. The poor economic state of the main populace and the unseen assistance from the U.S. and the rest of the Western world does not help our image or influence the tribal communities to be on America’s side. This causes the path to making Yemen America’s friend difficult because we must convince a Muslim populace that doesn’t trust outside influence that the United States’ objectives are far more beneficial to Yemenis than Al-Qa’Ida’s.
Yemen is not currently a failed state at the young age of 21, but it is experiencing huge political and economic problems that can have a direct impact on U.S. interests in the region. It’s population growth rate is the fourth highest in the world according to the Yemen Culture Smart Book (Feb. 2011) with a resource base that is limited and already leaves much of the country in poverty. The government obtains about a third of its budget from sales of its limited and declining oil stocks, which most economists state will be exhausted by 2017. Yemen has critical water shortages aggravated by the use of extensive amounts of water and agricultural land for production of the shrub qat, which is chewed as a stimulant and other effects but has zero nutritional value. These problems are difficult to address because the government has only a limited capacity to extend its influence into tribal areas beyond the capital and major cities. Adding to these difficulties, Yemen is also facing a variety of interrelated national security problems that have strained the government, military and security forces. In the northern provinces, there has been intermittent rebellion by Houthi tribesmen who accuse the government of discrimination and other actions against their Shiite sect. In the southern part of Yemen, an independence movement has developed which is mostly nonviolent but increasingly confrontational. Al-Qa’Ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), headquartered in Yemen, emerged in January 2009 according to the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC 2011) appears to be strengthening and showing signs of transitioning from a terrorist group with limited capabilities to an emerging insurgent movement. AQAP was preceded by Al-Qa’Ida in Yemen (AQY) which was created in 2006 conducted its biggest attack by targeting...

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