WASHINGTON – Numerous terrorist attempts against the U.S. have stemmed from Yemen. The latest addition was the attempt to attack a U.S. commercial airline on Christmas Day.
The Bipartisan Policy Center held a panel discussion Wednesday to analyze Yemen's security risks and why it is a fragile state.
The panel included Les Campbell,Middle East director of the National Democratic Institute,and retired Adm. Gregory Johnson,BPC senior military fellow.
According to their analysis,there is no point in increasing U.S. aid to Yemen's military. “Additional aid and assistance alone wouldn't suffice in solving their problems overall,” said Michael Mokovsky,BPC foreign policy director. “Until Yemen develops proper governance capacity and fosters improved state legitimacy by addressing underlying social,economic and political weaknesses,it will remain a threat to international security.”
Leading the panel discussion,”Yemen: The Next Afghanistan?” was Paula Dobriansky,former under secretary of state for democracy and global affairs under President George W. Bush. She was joined by Thomas Krajeski,former U.S. ambassador to Yemen; Michael Doran,a National Security Council member under Bush,and others.
“Security is a vital issue in Yemen. But only a holistic approach will promote real and lasting progress in that country,” Johnson said. “It will take a well-organized,wide-ranging approach to prevent Yemen from becoming the next Afghanistan.”
A BPC national security initiative paper released for the panel discussion outlined various problems that are harbingers to Yemen being one of the most fragile of all global states. It faces multiple overlapping threats to its internal security and sovereignty: an ongoing tribal revolt in the north,a resurgent secessionist movement in the south and a growing al-Qaida presence throughout its territory.
Al-Qaida has been thriving by taking advantage of the internal weaknesses of the current regime,growing operations in Yemen and other countries and insinuating itself into the northern and southern conflicts.
As these security issues have escalated,and as government security forces face multiple pressures,the government is running out of funds. Endemic poverty,unemployment,lack of basic resources,such as food and water,and corrupt and poorly trained security forces undermine the government's authority.
“We want to dispel the myth that Yemen's problem is merely a lack of security capacity,equipment and material,” Dobriansky said. “Their problems could be solved by good governance,better economic reforms and clever solution to all security challenges being faced.”
Doran differed,however,saying that good governance was not the solution but a part of the solution.
“Yemen is very much different in a sense that it has a long history of dialogues,talented leaders,legal political parties and where women are not denied of their right to vote,” Dobriansky said.
At the end of the discussion,experts reached a consensus – that it was very early to call Yemen the next Afghanistan,and that Yemen could improve significantly with U.S. help.