Yemen in foreground of “war on terror”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has given the first official statement on how the US views Yemen in the wake of the failed Christmas day bombing of an American-bound airliner.

It is clear from her remarks that conflict within the Arab state has thrust it into the foreground of the US-led war against Islamist militants.

Clinton said: “ This is… in that region, the spillover effects from instability directly impacting on neighbours. Obviously, we see global implications from the war in Yemen and the ongoing efforts by al-Qaeda in Yemen to use it as a base for terrorist attacks far beyond the region.”

Earlier Yemeni government officials claimed to have killed at least two al-Qaeda militants in ongoing clashes between security forces and rebels. The country is facing a Shi’ite insurgency in the north and separatist protests in the south.

Meanwhile, after the US and UK both closed their embassies, France, Spain and Japan have shut theirs. It comes after intelligence of a planned al-Qaeda attack. But for one political analyst, shoring up security is not the only answer.

Khaled al-Haroji said: “We need logistics, and we need economic assistance. These are important to Yemen because the economic problem faced by Yemen, and the high rate of unemployment and poverty, is a suitable breeding environment for al- Qaeda, considering that many young Yemenis are frustrated and will turn to this organization.”

The US has promised cash to help fight terrorism. But more fundamental support is probably needed as its 23 million population faces future hardships with tapering oil reserves and a looming water shortage.