US Struggles With Lack of Expertise in Yemen

Former Envoy: 'I Don't Think We Have a Strategy for Yemen'

The Obama Administration’s newfound interest in Yemen, starting with the mid-December cruise missile attacks on the nation and escalating dramatically since the failed Detroit underwear bomber was linked to Yemeni al-Qaeda figures, is struggling with a lack of resources and expertise.

The Obama Administration has tripled the amount of money it sends to Yemen in aid since 2008, up to $63 million this year. A significant amount of money for the impoverished nation, but a mere drop in the bucket for one fighting several wars and suddenly finding itself as yet another “central” front in America’s war on terror.

According to former US Ambassador to Yemen Edmund J. Hull “I don’t think we have a strategy for Yemen; I think we have some responses.” The State Department is said to have almost no experts on Yemen.

Rising unemployment, rampant poverty, growing extremism and mutliple civil wars make the situation on the ground in Yemen a complex one, and the US policy of throwing money at them and lobbing the occasional missile seems ill-equipped to provide any meaningful stabilization.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.