While Libya is currently at the center of the debate, Yemen conjures up far more ominous headlines like “Yemen: Trouble in the Most Dangerous Domino.” There, President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power longer than most Yemenis have been alive, is facing an opposition that fails to abate despite his concessions and is tenuously holding on to power. Meanwhile, the fears surrounding a rapid destabilization require the United States to think creatively about how to change the lens through which it views Yemen as it prepares for a Yemen sans Saleh.
For most Americans, Yemen is only in the news when it is connected to terrorism – and with good reason. The Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, was behind the failed 2009 Christmas Day airline bombing. Recently, Defense Secretary Robert Gates referred to the group as the “most active and, at this point, perhaps the most aggressive branch of al Qaeda.” Moreover, there are serious concerns that AQAP could gain a stronger foothold should Yemen fall into further chaos. (more…)