Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Won't Send Troops to Yemen. How Will It Defeat Al Qaeda There?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Won't Send Troops to Yemen. How Will It Defeat Al Qaeda There?

Article excerpt

President Obama and the Pentagon have ruled out US troops in Yemen. The US will have to rely on civilian aid - which has been ineffective in Iraq and Afghanistan - to undermine Al Qaeda.

The US is looking at ways to help the Yemeni government stabilize its country that are unlikely to include sending American forces anytime soon.

That may appease some of the more radical elements within Yemen, including a Yemeni cleric, who said Monday that the US should keep American troops out of his country. Sheik Abdul-Malid al-Zindani, considered by the US to be a global terrorist with ties to Osama bin Laden, says a deployment of American troops to Yemen would amount to an occupation and would force Yemenis to "rise up" against their government.

"We reject any military occupation of our country and we do not accept the return of colonialism," Mr. Zendani said at a news conference Monday in Sanaa, the capital.

Despite fears of a growing Al Qaeda threat in Yemen, the American government does not appear to be looking to start another war. Instead, it's looking to civilians to strengthen the weak Yemeni government, helping it govern and provide its own security.

President Obama himself ruled out the use of combat forces. "I have no intention of sending US boots on the ground in these regions," Mr. Obama told People magazine.

The Yemen threatRecent events have put Yemen back on the US national security radar. The so-called Christmas Day bomber is a Nigerian man who allegedly received terrorist training in Yemen. That incident followed the discovery that the alleged Fort Hood shooter was linked to another radical Yemeni cleric, Anwar al- Awlaki. Yemen is also where the USS Cole was attacked and 17 American soldiers died in 2000.

For its part, the Yemeni government has said that any deployment of American troops would incite more radicalism.

But the Yemenis are keen on American help. Many experts and administration officials believe the answer to Yemen's problems lie in a robust civilian engagement using so-called smart power to help prop up the weak government and provide development assistance. …

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