TERRORISM IN YEMEN: CHALLENGES AND UNITED STATES FOREIGN POLICY
Ben Gabr, Yasmine
TERRORISM IN YEMEN: CHALLENGES AND UNITED STATES FOREIGN POLICYYasmine A. Ben Gabr, B.A.Mentor: Professor R. Nicholas Palarino, Ph.D.ABSTRACTWhile the legacy of the Arab Spring is still not definitely determined, one thing that can be said with near certainty is that it has further destabilized the Middle East, including Yemen. Many U.S. administration officials have declared that the Yemeni-based terrorist organization AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula) is the most lethal of the Al Qaeda affiliates to U.S. security and interests. In recent years, the U.S. administration has supported an increased U.S. commitment of resources to "counterterrorism" efforts in the country, including both covert and overt actions. The U.S. has increased its use of drone strikes but has not balanced the scale by focusing sufficient efforts on building the economic or social foundation, or on winning the support of the populace.Today, the country has to contend with major issues such as tribal unrest, tensions between the north and south, a disintegrating economy, widespread unemployment, rampant corruption, and rapid resource depletion, particularly with regard to oil and clean water, which have posed tremendous security challenges to the current administration. A policy centered on counterterrorism to the exclusion of Yemen's other problems may eventually prove counterproductive.Yemeni citizens should be informed and included in development projects, in consideration of the fact that the country is not a proxy battleground and that our long-term commitment to its stability, development, and legitimacy matches our more immediate and urgent commitment to the defeat of AQAP. Our strategy must not be to create new problems by eliminating old ones. A tarnished American image will only augment the cause of hostile groups in the long term.A sustainable, workable, and long-term solution in Yemen entails reversing Washington's policy of fighting terrorism with air raids, killings, and covert operations. Rather, grassroots and economic strategies may pave the way for a brighter future for Yemen and lead to the repression of terrorist activities and protection of U.S. interests in that region. The extent to which the situation in Yemen continues to deteriorate has yet to be seen and is in some ways contingent on U.S. efforts in the country.
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