Al-Qaeda Quickly Fills Void as Obama Administration Pushes Yemeni President From Power
As Yemeni President and American ally Ali Abdullah Saleh fights for his political life, Al Qaeda operatives are taking advantage of the void and have already stepped in to fill the power vacuum.
Al Qaeda leaders like top propagandist and spiritual leader Anwar Al-Awlaki are ecstatic about the recent developments in Yemen and across the Middle East.
The New York Times reported:
Counterterrorism operations in Yemen have ground to a halt, allowing Al Qaeda’s deadliest branch outside of Pakistan to operate more freely inside the country and to increase plotting for possible attacks against Europe and the United States, American diplomats, intelligence analysts and counterterrorism officials say.
In the political tumult surrounding Yemen’s embattled president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, many Yemeni troops have abandoned their posts or have been summoned to the capital, Sana, to help support the tottering government, the officials said. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group’s affiliate, has stepped in to fill this power vacuum, and Yemeni security forces have come under increased attacks in recent weeks.
A small but steadily growing stream of Qaeda fighters and lower-level commanders from other parts of the world, including Pakistan, are making their way to Yemen to join the fight there, although American intelligence officials are divided on whether the political crisis in Yemen is drawing more insurgents than would be traveling there under normal conditions.
Obama Administration officials are doing their best to ensure Al-Qaeda’s success.
The Obama administration is helping to grease the skids for the impending departure of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
While he remains a strong U.S. ally in the war against al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists, Saleh has worn out his welcome with his own people and the State Department can’t afford to prop up a leader opposed to democratic reform.
Yemeni officials say the U.S. is attempting to mediate a smooth exit for Saleh so as not to further destabilize the country, which is in danger of falling into the hands of those supporting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the anti-American organization that’s headquartered in Yemen.
Al Qaeda already declared South Yemen as an Islamic emirate last week.