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U.S. Policy Toward Yemen.

U.S. Policy Toward Yemen

By John Brennan, Asst. to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism

In the days following Presidential Assistant John Brennan's 17 December speech at the Carnegie Endowment, demonstrations have caused varying degrees of chaos in many parts of the Middle East and North Africa--Yemen included. Those disruptions do not mean, however, that Brennan's analysis has been overtaken by events.

To the contrary, his early work as an analyst and the insights he drew from his trips to Yemen in the 1980s and since his appointment to President Obama's staff make the content of his address relevant to those wishing to understand the situation in Yemen and how it might develop. Because Yemen is the home of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and is located at the junction of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, Brennan claims "Yemen matters."

In his speech, he quickly sketches Yemen's fractured history and eventual emergence as one of the region's poorest states, in which water is scarce, the economy deteriorating, and internal conflict a regular feature of life. He also explains why the country has become a terrorist training and recruiting center--perhaps the most threatening--and the source of many attacks against Saudi Arabia and the West.

To address those challenges and help Yemen meet its social, economic, and security challenges, Brennan promises U.S. assistance and expertise and calls upon the international community to support America's comprehensive response to Yemen's many problems--the very kind of program that the United States is now assembling--and one that includes aid in Yemen's struggle with its domestic terrorists and tribal factions.

U.S. policy is therefore not only to protect Americans from attack by engaging al Qaeda in Yemen but also promote "security, stability and prosperity in Yemen." How the recent demonstrations in Yemen will affect those efforts remains to be seen.

Reviewed by James L. Abrahamson, contributing editor
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Author:Abrahamson, James L.
Publication:American Diplomacy
Geographic Code:0DEVE
Date:Feb 21, 2011
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