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January 30, 2011 / J. Shaw

Yemen Next? Yemen Coup Could Give al Qaeda a Stronghold

As the world focuses on turmoil in Egypt, a simmering insurrection is threatening to boil over in Yemen, with potentially dire consequences for the United States, analysts said.Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Yemen’s cities this week, imperiling the corrupt government of one of the world’s poorest countries — one that has become a haven for some of the most dangerous al Qaeda operatives.

The fall of Yemen would unravel years of efforts by American officials who have worked closely with Yemeni leaders to stop al Qaeda from turning the country into the kind of stronghold Afghanistan was before 9/11.

Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst who was an adviser to President Obama on Afghanistan-Pakistan review, said a collapse of the government in Yemen would be a major blow in the fight against terrorism.

“Yemen is already a weak state with a host of problems,” Riedel said. “If it now faces mass protests the government will have even less resources to fight [al Qaeda.]”

Tens of thousands of Yemeni citizens took to the streets Thursday demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh resign. Saleh, whose been in power for 32 years, was discussing a constitutional amendment that would make his presidency a life term.

After the protests erupted, he made promises to slash income taxes in half and raised the pay of his military and security officials. Experts say he won’t be able to sustain the changes or fulfill promises without help.

Read More    Sara A. Carter


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