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[IWS] CRS: YEMEN: BACKGROUND AND U.S. RELATIONS [21 January 2015]

IWS Documented News Service

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Institute for Workplace Studies-----------------Professor Samuel B. Bacharach

School of Industrial & Labor Relations-------- Director, Institute for Workplace Studies

Cornell University

16 East 34th Street, 4th floor--------------------Stuart Basefsky

New York, NY 10016 -------------------------------Director, IWS News Bureau

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Congressional Research Service (CRS)

 

Yemen: Background and U.S. Relations

Jeremy M. Sharp, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

January 21, 2015

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL34170.pdf

[full-text, 38 pages]

 

Summary

This report provides an overview and analysis of U.S.-Yemeni relations amidst evolving political

change in Yemeni leadership, ongoing U.S. counterterrorism operations against Al Qaeda in the

Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operatives in Yemen’s hinterlands, and international efforts to bolster

the country’s stability despite an array of daunting socio-economic problems. Along with

determining how best to counter terrorist threats emanating from Yemen, Congress and U.S.

policy makers also may consider the priority level and resources that should be accorded to

attempts to stabilize Yemen and to establish and maintain strong bilateral relations with Yemeni

leaders.

 

On November 23, 2011, after eleven months of protests and violence that claimed over 2,000

lives, then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen signed on to a U.S.-backed, Gulf Cooperation

Council (GCC)-brokered transition plan. In line with the plan, Yemen held a presidential election

in February 2012 with one consensus candidate on the ballot—former Vice President Abed Rabbo

Mansour al Hadi. President Hadi took office in February 2012 shortly after his election. He

remains in office, but his power may be circumscribed by former president Saleh and his allies,

who appear intent on undermining Yemen’s transition. A presidential decree extends President

Hadi’s term, likely until at least until February 2015.

 

Many Administration officials have declared that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemenbased

terrorist organization that has attempted several attacks on the U.S. homeland, presents the

most potent threat among Al Qaeda’s remaining affiliates. In recent years, the Administration and

Congress have committed greater resources to counterterrorism and stabilization efforts there.

Amid debate over the accomplishments and objectives of U.S. military and intelligence

operations in Yemen, President Obama has suggested that U.S. policy in Yemen may inform U.S.

policy in other cases, such as the military campaign against the Islamic State Organization in Iraq

and Syria. It is unclear whether and how lessons from Yemen’s specific situation might apply in

other contexts. Many analysts assert that Yemen is or is becoming a failed state and safe haven for

Al Qaeda operatives for a variety of reasons and as such is likely to remain an active theater for

U.S. counterterrorism operations for the foreseeable future. Given Yemen’s contentious political

climate and its myriad development challenges, most long-time Yemen watchers suggest that

security problems emanating from Yemen may persist in spite of increased U.S. or international

efforts to combat them—an argument with which few would disagree given the events of early

2015.

 

As recently as the fall of 2014, the Obama Administration expressed cautious optimism about

Yemen’s trajectory, though this assessment might change in light of recent challenges posed by—

among other things—the forced extraction of political concessions by the Houthis, a clan from

the Zaydi sect (related to Shia Islam) that might receive support from Iran. The State Department

reports that the United States committed more than $221.4 million in assistance to Yemen in

FY2014, in addition to $316.23 million in FY2013 and more than $353 million in FY2012. U.S.

military assistance to Yemen has focused on bolstering its unmanned aerial surveillance

capabilities and training its armed forces. Current annual appropriations language includes a

provision that would restrict U.S. funding of Yemen’s military were it to be controlled by a

foreign terrorist organization.

 

Contents

Overview: Instability in Yemen ....................................................................................................... 1

Latest Developments: The Unravelling of Yemen’s Transition? ..................................................... 2

The Houthi Crisis ...................................................................................................................... 3

U.S. Response ..................................................................................................................... 6

Iranian Involvement in Yemen................................................................................................... 7

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).................................................................................... 8

U.S. Counterterrorism Policy in Yemen .................................................................................. 10

Evaluating U.S. Counterterrorism Policy in Yemen: Is it a Model? .................................. 12

Domestic Politics: Disunity and Separatism .................................................................................. 18

The Houthis ............................................................................................................................. 18

The Southern Movement ......................................................................................................... 19

The Economy, Sustainable Development, and International Aid .................................................. 20

The Impact of Oil .............................................................................................................. 20

Attacks Against Oil and Natural Gas Pipelines ................................................................. 21

Current Economic and Fiscal Conditions .......................................................................... 23

International Aid ................................................................................................................ 23

U.S. Policy Toward Yemen ............................................................................................................ 24

U.S. and International Sanctions ............................................................................................. 25

Executive Action ............................................................................................................... 25

U.S. Foreign Assistance to Yemen ........................................................................................... 26

Economic Aid .................................................................................................................... 26

Humanitarian Aid .............................................................................................................. 27

Military and Other Security Aid ........................................................................................ 27

Possible Aid Restrictions ................................................................................................... 27

Yemeni Detainees at Guantanamo Bay ................................................................................... 28

 

Figures

Figure 1. Map of Yemen .................................................................................................................. 2

Figure 2. Select Yemeni Political Figures ........................................................................................ 4

Figure 3. Select Profiles of AQAP Leaders at Large ..................................................................... 11

Figure 4. Yemen’s Energy Infrastructure ....................................................................................... 22

Figure A-1. Yemen’s Political Transition ....................................................................................... 33

 

Tables

Table 1. U.S. Foreign Aid Allocations to Yemen, FY2009-FY2014 Estimate ............................... 29

 

Appendixes

Appendix. Country Background .................................................................................................... 30

 

Contacts

Author Contact Information........................................................................................................... 33

 

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This information is provided to subscribers, friends, faculty, students and alumni of the School of Industrial & Labor Relations (ILR). It is a service of the Institute for Workplace Studies (IWS) in New York City. Stuart Basefsky is responsible for the selection of the contents which is intended to keep researchers, companies, workers, and governments aware of the latest information related to ILR disciplines as it becomes available for the purposes of research, understanding and debate. The content does not reflect the opinions or positions of Cornell University, the School of Industrial & Labor Relations, or that of Mr. Basefsky and should not be construed as such. The service is unique in that it provides the original source documentation, via links, behind the news and research of the day. Use of the information provided is unrestricted. However, it is requested that users acknowledge that the information was found via the IWS Documented News Service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




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