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December 30th, 2009
12:09 PM ET

Yemen's problems will not stay in Yemen

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/OPINION/12/30/boucek.yemen.terror.threat/t1larg.yemen.demo.afpgi.jpg caption="Yemenis demonstrate against a government raid that killed suspected al Qaeda members in Yemen's Shabwa province."]

Editor's note: Christopher Boucek is an associate in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Christopher Boucek
Special to CNN

In recent days, international attention has refocused on the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Yemen. The claim of responsibility for the attack on Northwest flight 253 on December 25 by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has underscored the fact that Yemen's problems will not stay in Yemen.

In the absence of immediate and sustained attention by the international community, Yemen may be overwhelmed by a unique convergence of crises. While some observers feared this would come in several years, it is increasingly apparent that failure may come sooner than previously expected.

Yemen has frequently been described as a failing state - and with good reason. Civil war, terrorism, a deepening secessionist movement and economic and demographic trends threaten to overpower the Yemeni government, provide a breeding ground for terrorists and destabilize the region. Yemen has often teetered on the brink of collapse, but it has never faced so many interconnected challenges at one time.

At the heart of the country's problems is a looming economic crisis. Oil is the source of nearly 80 percent of government revenue, and it is quickly running out. There are few viable options for a sustainable post-oil economy, and Yemen is already the poorest country in the Arab world with an unemployment rate conservatively estimated at 35 percent.

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Filed under: al Qaeda • Terrorism
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. jimmy

    The U.S. has given 67 million dollars to Yemen for counter-terrorism. My question is, how much has our rich ally and neighbor to Yemen, Saudi Arabia, given to the cause????

    December 30, 2009 at 3:01 pm |
  2. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    America needs to review who our friends are and I would start with Saudi Arabia. This oil countries have no interest in what benefits the U.S. because we're hooked like junkies to their oil. We must develop mass rail systems of transportation, less autos until we our no longer dependent upon the Middle East. President Obama is doing his best to make Americans understand but Republicans fight against him because they only have interest in big oil companies that pay them off. Wakeup America, the Middle East is depending on us to continue being stupid. They know President Obama is right and now they have jumped ahead of the game developing green energy plants to sell to us.

    December 30, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  3. Mari

    Interesting, yes, OIL IS running out. It will be a great day, when good-old-American-know-how comes up with sustainable energy and we can say "thanks but no thanks" to Arab oil!

    Our gas guzzling SUV's, trucks, etc., are funding ....... terrorism. Yet, we, Americans refuse to conserve!

    The war on terror can not be a conventional war, we will not succeed. We must use our cutting edge technology, intelligence and a campaign of winning over the hearts and minds of the Muslim world. With surgical strikes at the heart of terrorists camps, we can succeed. Also, with our own technology we can identify terrorists, and yes, profile them. Every traveler coming from known terrorist countries will be suspect, that's what's its come to. Everyone with a Muslim name, sad to say will have to be searched and singled out. I am sorry, but we have no choice but to profile.

    If I were Muslim, I would not mind being profiled, if it would help save lives. We did not ask for this war, we did not attack them first. We are the ones whose Freedom and homeland are endangered, we must now protect ourselves with everything we have.

    December 30, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  4. Tim Gibson

    Can we use buying power as a tool in anti-terrorism?

    The unrest within the entire region, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Iran, Pakistan, Yemen, and the horn of Africa among others is a problem we cannot fund out way out via the printing press.

    None of these problems will remain in the region but will spread through the world and offer up new and improved methods of attack even as our own economy is beginning to mirror that of other nations who attempted to spend and print their way out of collapse with terrible end results.

    The silent path we are taking is leading us into a barrier and we are all the test dummies.

    December 30, 2009 at 12:26 pm |

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