It seems there’s too much going on in the Arab world to pay attention to Yemen. But President Obama can’t afford to ignore it. Here’s why:
1. It’s the heartland of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). This al Qaeda franchise has proven its intention of attacking the United States and maintains the capabilities to do so.
2. The targeted killings of Anwar al Awlaki and other AQAP targets haven’t significantly reduced the long-term threat from AQAP. Indeed, AQAP will likely devise and carry out the next attempt on U.S. soil.
3. AQAP’s insurgent wing, Ansar al Sharia, has secured territory in south Yemen and expanded the group’s territorial safe haven.
4. American “strategy” in Yemen overlooks the issues that will plague the new Yemeni government, and relies on the government to be both a willing and able partner to defeat AQAP. It isn’t.
5. Despite elections there this week, nothing in Yemeni politics has changed. Same team in power, same team in opposition, same southern secession, same Shiite rebellion.