Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Can Yemen's friends really help?

The country's president is happy to take foreign aid with few strings attached while doing little to quell support for al-Qaida

Brian Whitaker
guardian.co.uk, Monday 20 September 2010

"....Nobody doubts that Yemen is in a mess. Not only is it a hotbed of al-Qaida activity, its economy is in a dire state and its government, besides being riddled with corruption, is struggling to exert control over large parts of the country. The question is what can be done about this.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in charge in Sanaa since 1978 [Next will be his son; it is the Arab regime way!], would like as much aid as possible to prop up his regime, with minimal strings attached. The Friends of Yemen, on the other hand, fearful of money being squandered, is looking for signs that Saleh is trying to put his house in order and is seeking to link aid to performance....

Another problem is that Saleh has very little incentive to defeat al-Qaida once and for all; without the threat from the militants, international interest in Yemen would decline – and with it, the supply of aid.

One result is that the regime talks up the threat to some extent – for example by exaggerating links between al-Qaida and the separatist Southern Movement when a more fruitful approach would be to drive a wedge between them: addressing the southerners' grievances seriously (and those of other disaffected groups) would help to undermine al-Qaida's local support...."

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