Yemen has signed an agreement with the United States for cooperation on military intelligence and training. The deal aims to strengthen cooperation in the “extermination of terrorism, smuggling and piracy,” Yemen’s Chief of Staff Ahmed Ali al-Ashwal said.
The United States and Saudi Arabia fear the fighting in Yemen’s north and separatist unrest in the south could allow al Qa’eda and Iran to expand their presence in Yemen into a new base for operations in the region.
11 November 2009
Analysis and Forecast: decreasing risk
The fact that Yemen will now openly receive US assistance demonstrates that the US and its regional allies want to ensure that Yemen is able to fight the multiple challenges it has. The Sixth Saada war in the north is gradually becoming a regional conflict with the Saudi and Iranians indirectly fighting. The growing unrest in the south also threatens to divide the country and an overall threat of Al Qa’eda. The Yemeni government does not have the resources to tackle all those multiple challenges that are separately increasing in intensity. Support from the US will help Yemen overcome some of the direct military challenges but should be combined with social and political reform to ensure that the participation of the US does not back-fire, by creating further tensions within the Yemeni population, many segments of whom are hostile towards the US.