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Yemen: An International Incident - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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As if Yemen needs any more bad news in addition to the war on the Iranian-affiliated Huthi rebels and the emergence of Al Qaeda on the country’s northern hills to which dozens of its members come from every direction. There is also the issue of Yemen’s southern secessionists who are taking action towards [establishing] their own country. In a matter of weeks, two serious incidents occurred and both were connected to Yemen; the first was the Arab American, Nidal Hassan, who killed 13 and injured dozens of his colleagues in a mass shooting at the US Fort Hood military base, and the second was the young Nigerian Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab who attempted to blow up a US airliner bound for Detroit. Both convicts have been linked to an American preacher of Yemeni descent. Because Abdulmutallab said he was trained in Yemen on explosions, Sanaa is being mentioned the most in international news.

Al Qaeda’s success in entering Yemen is relatively old; last summer, news leaked that Al Qaeda had begun to transfer some of its activities to northern Yemen and this was later proven to be true. When Al Qaeda moves to any part of the world, it is only normal that military, intelligence, and security groups from several countries pursue it. Practically, Yemen has become the prime target, and the importance of this country was further consolidated by the [US] airliner incident. This incident caused US President Barack Obama to deliver three speeches in one week, end his holiday and accelerate his political battle with his opponents from the Republican Party who accuse him of slacking in the fight against extremists.

Therefore, Yemen will be the place for upcoming battles, regardless of whether the Yemeni authorities accept this or not. The Yemeni side must be well prepared before it finds itself a spectator in its own country. Moreover, the groups that used to deal with Al Qaeda and the Huthis should reconsider their position very carefully before they find themselves the prime target of pursuit. Everybody knows that there are groups in Yemen that trade in weapons and power and they believe that the crisis will create a lucrative financial market. Today, the game is bigger and it would be difficult to haggle in such a climate of tension and state of international war – a war that is yet to be declared officially but has actually begun. There will also be operations targeting whoever works with Al Qaeda and the Houthis and this is what happened recently in secret.

Despite the several evidences and claims of interference, the US is insisting on dealing with the Yemeni problem in a way that is less ostentatious and emotional. The Obama administration does not want the Americans to look like a combatant army in Yemen. Without doubt they will have a major role in Yemen’s current wars, especially its war against Al Qaeda. However, the Americans are avoiding public appearance and want Yemeni troops to take control of the war on the ground, whilst the Americans assist with information, planning and support. This will save the Sanaa government political embarrassment and will avoid US losses. Joint cooperation may prove to be the ideal way to confront Al Qaeda, the Huthis and others.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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