Quickie: Former US Ambassador on Those Yemen Myths

صنعاء /Sana'a (Yemen)Image by eesti via Flickr

“In my experience, there is no deep-seeded affinity between Yemeni tribes and the Qaeda movement. Tribes tend to be opportunistic, not ideological, so the risk is that Al Qaeda will successfully exploit opportunities created by government neglect. There are also family affinities — cousins, linked to uncles, linked to brothers. These do matter. But what matters most is the “mujahedeen fraternity” — Yemenis with jihadist experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia or elsewhere. Finally, what would matter — and significantly — would be innocent casualties resulting from counterterrorism operations, which could well set off a tribal response.”

“Forging an effective American counterterrorism policy in Yemen will be as difficult as it is necessary. But misreading Yemeni history and society can only complicate its conception and jeopardize its execution.”
Edmund J. Hull
United States Ambassador to Yemen (2001 to 2004)
from Al Qaeda’s Shadowland | NYT Op-ed | January 11, 2010


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