Yemen political chaos continues, U.S. remains cautious in making decision on what to do

March 31st, 2011

As the epidemic of revolution spreads across the Arab world, Yemen finds itself the next victim.

Political turmoil and disputes between radicals and non-radicals alike are splintering the Arab nation.

Much of the initial and primary focus has been centered on President Abdullah Saleh.

In office since 1978, President Saleh has found himself a victim of the anti-dictator movement.  Sensing the massive wave of unpopularity, Saleh put up a brief resistance before agreeing to step down at the end of his term.

President Saleh’s issues are minimal in the tumultuous politics of Yemen.  While the desire of the rebellious freedom is backed by the United States in countries such as Egypt and Libya, Yemen requires a different approach.

The society of Yemen represents one that is dominated primarily by culturally outdated customs, as understood by much of the Western world.

The country’s citizens remain relatively tribal and uneducated, frequently engaging in civil warfare that began roughly 50 years ago.  These Civil Wars have stemmed primarily from opposing political factions in Northern and Southern Yemen.

President Obama may want to redirect his Middle Eastern focus.  With the tribal violence occurring as a result of political unrest, Yemen appears to be strikingly similar to Afghanistan.

Following Soviet withdrawal, Afghanistan was plunged into a violent civil war.

Eventually, the Taliban government prevailed and took over, providing a safe haven for al-Qaida.  Seeking to repeat history, Osama Bin Laden’s terrorist organization has embedded its way in the Yemeni turmoil.

This should not necessarily come as old news for the United States.

Al Qaida has had a foot in Yemen for some time.

Before al-Qaida carried out the Sept. 11 attacks, its members successfully bombed the U.S.S. Cole, stationed in Yemen.

The United States’ timing may be a decade late, but it is better to get involved in the political unrest now, rather than continuing to stall.

Saleh has worked closely with the U.S. in the past against the Yemeni al-Qaida branch.

While President Obama seeks to assist those fighting oppressive governments, he may also want to extinguish the hive of radical instigators.

Recently, Yemeni forces have abandoned their posts across the country as demonstrators have made their feelings known to the Saleh. In the southern city of Jaar, a well-known al-Qaida haven, protesters have taken over all government buildings.

Armed protesters also took over a factory that produces arms, explosives and ammunitions.

On Monday, an explosion rocked the factory killing at least 110 of the looters.

Last weekend, in a speech to a crowd of thousands of supporters, Saleh told them that he was willing to concede power, but only if it were placed into “safe hands.”

The next day, he reneged on his assertion, clouding any time frame for his departure.

“A presidential source denied on Saturday what have been reported by some media outlets that President Ali Abdullah Saleh will step down,” a statement released from a Yemen news agency said.

Approximately a month ago, the opposition coalition, Joint Meetings Party, came to an agreement with Saleh regarding a peaceful transition of power, which he in turn agreed to.

Now the coalition has scrapped that deal, calling for his imminent departure from the presidency. Saleh has claimed he is the only alternative to al-Qaida-led chaos.