Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Costs of Pounding Yemen

Jeffrey Fleishmann provides timely analysis in the LA Times

The U.S. is growing impatient with Saleh's corrupt government. Yemen's recent military campaigns have pounded villages, spawning refugees but netting few Al Qaeda fighters. Western intelligence agencies worry that Yemen could tumble into being a failed state at the intersection of the Middle East and the Horn of Africa, where another Al Qaeda branch is battling the government of Somalia. Such instability would endanger neighboring countries and further jeopardize the pirate-laden shipping lanes around the Arabian Peninsula.

Add to this destabilization

  • the impact of US drone strikes that all too often have killed tribal villagers, which likewise turns locals against Mr. Saleh's already wobbly government
  • the evidence that US involvement in Yemen is drawing more jihadists from Iraq and Afghanistan (where there are still enough around to keep things unstable in those two countries . . .

And you have a recipe indeed for chaos in Yemen, as well as Somalia, and the shipping lanes.

For more comment and analysis, check out Max Rodenbeck's recent essay in the NY Review of Books.

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