Today, Frank Cilluffo, Director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University, and I co-authored an issue brief entitled “Yemen & Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula: Exploiting a Window of Counterterrorism Opportunity.”
Frank and I initially started discussing this after last winter’s debates about using drones in Yemen. Gregory Johnsen, Aaron Zelin, Brian O’Neill and I all took turns in the “drone or no drone” debate here in several parts (#1, #2, and #3) and it has helped me think through my position.
In this recent argument, we are essentially advocating that Yemen’s slip from a ‘weak’ state (under Saleh) to a ‘failed’ state (post Saleh) provides the U.S. a near term opportunity to use limited drone and SOF operations to counter AQAP’s immediate terrorist threat to the U.S. Learning from the lessons articulated by Dr. Ken Menkhaus on AQ and the failed state of Somalia, I see this narrow window as a chance to eliminate AQAP’s near term capability and open up our options for a long term relationship with Yemen not tied to the immediate threat of AQAP.
Looking forward to hearing people’s thoughts on the way forward in Yemen.