CIA Steps Up Operations in Yemen
By William Tucker
The Washington Post ran a story this past Tuesday declaring that the CIA and the Pentagon were looking to increase their presence in Yemen to counter the threat posed by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. In the last few years the US special operations forces have conducted training of Yemeni forces and participated in several raids. In light of the bombing attempt on a US bound aircraft last December, the CIA has become increasingly concerned about AQAP’s capabilities. Furthermore, the radical cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi, who is now hiding in Yemen, has inspired several plots against the US homeland in the last few years.
Operating in Yemen does pose several challenges because of the Saleh governments support for some al-Qaeda elements. Saleh has been known to use al-Qaeda to target his political rivals and cries foul when they reciprocate. The Yemeni President then blames any attack against his interests on al-Qaeda and uses these incidents to try and get more funding from the US. For intelligence operations to have any success they must try to operate independently of Yemen’s intelligence community to avoid being used as pawns in Yemen’s domestic issues. Like many Middle Eastern countries Yemen is fractious making any sort of operation difficult to begin with, but not necessarily impossible.