Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh was reportedly injured in an attack on the presidential palace today in Sana’a, the capital. The attack also killed four guards and injured the prime minister, deputy prime minister, and parliament speaker.
The fighting in Sana’a broke out May 23, the day after Saleh refused for the third time to sign a transition agreement. It has quickly escalated: footage from the capital show images of urban warfare, tribesmen and military forces from other areas are reinforcing military positions in Sana’a, and there have been sustained clashes outside of the capital. Today’s attack on the president himself may move the conflict toward outright war in the capital.
Why should the U.S. care? Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has conducted multiple attacks on American soil, finds sanctuary in the country. AQAP only stands to gain as the situation in Yemen deteriorates. As I write for the Weekly Standard:
Yemen’s escalating violence, an economy on the brink of collapse, and the prospect of widespread civil war or a fragmented state may present the White House with a very dark reality—the emergence of a terrorist sanctuary on the Arabian peninsula hosting an outfit that has targeted the U.S. homeland.