With US cruise missiles killing dozens and a growing clamor for a full on war against Yemen, the Obama Administration is struggling to navigate a complex state of affairs even as the State Department lacks serious expertise on the ground.
The US is ratcheting up military aid to Yemen, training and arming its military. But officials are balking at a ground invasion, at least for now, and some are eying a victory through non-military aid.
But pumping civilian aid into the nation in an effort to prop up the shaky government may prove to be nearly as problematic as the military option.
The Saleh government has a lot of enemies, fighting two full scale civil wars on opposite sides of the country as well as the al-Qaeda conflict. President Saleh’s 2009 pledge to stop funding schools to buy weapons to crush the Shi’ites has rubbed many (Shi’ites notably) the wrong way.
Even if the US had the expertise to nation-build in Yemen, which they don’t, doing so in the middle of these civil wars will in many ways be seen as more pernicious to the separatist movements than strikes against al-Qaeda fighters that are centered in a different region of the nation. President Saleh has likewise shown zero interest in domestic development in the separatist regions, and if the aid is funneled into a handful of favored regions, as it is almost certain to be, this too will be seen as America playing favorites and meddling in Yemen’s internal affairs.
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