As forces are slowly making an exit from Iraq, and troops are tiring in Afghanistan, the US will be looking to the future of its War on Terror and the next project in its battle against Al Qaeda. Lucky for them, the Christmas fear that was instilled by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and his doomsday underpants may have just given the US the inspiration they need, as suddenly all eyes in Washington are looking to Yemen.
Yemen seems to tick all the boxes in the preferred battle territory of the US, as well as the sheer unlikelihood for a successful insurgency there. Its terrain is mountainous, with many valleys and caves, it has little infrastructure and its roads are difficult to travel… just like Afghanistan! Not only this, but the country’s demographics are quite similar to that of Iraq, (which seems to have become a prerequisite for US intervention), two thirds of its population are under 25, and with over 50 % unemployment, it has a real potential to breed terrorism. Whats more, the country is on the brink of civil war, with heightened tensions between the Northern shiite rebels and the Southern separatists (which really puts the British North-South feud into perspective…). Outside of the main cities the country is largely run by armed tribes, which, unlike the largely pro-America Yemeni government, are sympathetic to the aims of Islam radicals. Sounds like a great place to be!
With all this contemplation of a possible move to Yemen, it seems striking that the US continues to overlook a few things about the War on Terror. In all their years of fighting, they haven’t seemed to realise that Al Qaeda don’t have a country base, but can relocate as and when necessary. By invading several countries with such a young population, the US gives them little hope of a real future, instead destroying their schools, uprooting families, and surrounding them with violence. With so few prospects, the future of this youth no longer exists, giving Al Qaeda plenty of opportunities to recruit them into radicalism. Whats more, government corruption is rampant in Yemen, which means full cooperation in stopping Al Qaeda’s operations is bound to be difficult.
So, the bad news is that Yemen may be another country where the US become bogged down in another insurgency, spending money they don’t have on troops and defense intelligence (that is if they’re not put off by the fact that the country is fast running out of oil…). However, on the plus side one of the major pros of the War on Terror has been that it gives Americans the chance to dust off their Globes and figure out where the hell Yemen is… after all Geography has never been America’s strong point…