COUNTRY OVERVIEW Yemen is a small, impoverished country at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. The population is nearly 24 million, and rapidly growing. Historically, the country has been hard to govern due to rugged terrain, scarce resources, and a tribal culture. Dissatisfied tribal groups have made it difficult to attain political and social stability, often causing armed conflict and displacement of the Yemeni people.
HISTORY OF THE ISSUE Historically, Yemen was divided in two separate states, North and South After disagreements and conflicts, the two regions united in 1990 when oil reserves were found Since the unification, Yemen has had the same president, who was re-elected by an overwhelming majority at each election Recently, Houthi rebels have posed a great concern for the Yemeni government. They are based in the North, and their movement was started by Houssein al- Houthi, a former government official who broke away The Houthis are seeking the re-establishment of the northern province of Saada and their own political party; the government claims that they want to re-establish the Imamate
CEASEFIRE The most recent ceasefire between the Houthi rebels and the Yemeni government occurred in February of 2010, after nearly six years of conflict and nearly a quarter of a million displaced people. It includes the opening of roads and release of prisoners, yet both sides claim that each is not holding up on its end of the deal Since February, there have been reports of strained relations between pro-government tribesmen and the rebels
U.S. POLICY Historically, U.S. policy toward Yemen has not been one of great involvement because the country did not have military or trade benefits to offer United States More recently, relations have improved due to the growing importance of Middle East allies in the War on Terror United States welcomes and supports the ceasefire in Yemen, and is giving humanitarian and aid assistance to help the displaced people and promote stabilization and democracy
U.S. POLICY Since the attacks on the World Trade Centers, President Bush worked to improve U.S.-Yemeni relations, and that continues to be an important goal This alliance is important in the eradication of Al-Qaeda, although in the past, Yemen has not proved to be reliable in this fight The ceasefire alludes to a more stable situation, making way for more U.S. involvement and Yemeni aid in the eradication of terrorist groups
POLICY OPTIONS PLACE CONDITIONS ON AID United States should place conditions and restrictions on the aid that it gives to Yemen in order to ensure stability and stop political and social crises. This involves active work from the Yemeni government in elimination of Al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations in promotion of U.S. national security
POLICY OPTIONS FORMING ALLIANCES This option, joint with the first one, advocates for a multilateral aid approach, using similar guidelines and conditions for humanitarian and military aid receipt. This could involve the EU and other Middle Eastern countries, as the countries of the world strive to protect themselves from terrorism attacks
POLICY OPTIONS DISTANT APPROACH Taking a more subtle and distant approach, letting the country deal with its own affairs. This would entail U.S. involvement only if there is a known threat to U.S. security that originates from Yemen (i.e. Christmas Day bomber). This option would also limit aid and assistance that the U.S. offers Yemen because the focus would not be on long-term stability, but on specific cases and instances that may occur
PROPOSED U.S. ACTION I propose that the United States, alongside other countries in the world, chooses a strategy toward Yemen that would ensure that aid that is given is used properly and that stability is maintained. This policy would entail more extensive involvement in Yemen than before. Because terrorism is an issue affecting many countries of the world, an effective policy would be one that allows multilateral agreements between the U.S. and other nations. This would include humanitarian aid, as well as military and economic assistance. Rebel groups would lose much of their impact as the country stabilizes, reducing the possibility of attack on the U.S. and allies.