The targeted assassinations of security officials in Yemen, as witnessed again last Wednesday with the killing of a Yemeni official in Sana’a, portends continued instability.

The government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi has blamed Al Qaida-affiliated militants for the targeted killings that have been on the rise in recent months. While Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) remains a potent threat to security, the government has a responsibility to impose a more stringent control on security and protect its officials, that ironically are from the security services.

Yemen faces a number of challenges that are of very serious nature. An ethno-tribal society, it is prone to political divisions on top of widespread poverty and lack of basic socio-economic development, resulting in unemployment, dissatisfaction and increasing frustration among the people.

It was hoped that with the change of government — after former president Ali Abdullah Saleh handed over power to an interim setup in line with a power transfer agreement brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states — conditions would improve. However, the situation still remains grim.

It is high time the government takes charge of law and order. There seems to be a political vacuum which should not exist. Unless this is addressed urgently, Yemen may slide further into instability, a situation it can ill afford.

Terrorist groups are likely to exploit the situation, but this was expected. The good thing is that the present government enjoys support from the opposition and can bolster any policy aimed at stabilising the state. Any further incidents targeting security officials will also erode the credibility of the government.

Therefore, efforts should be focused on taking strong action and preventing further destabilisation. Bigger challenges like creating jobs, eradicating poverty, improving socio-economic sectors such as education and health require urgent attention and nothing can be done unless there is security and stability.

Only a strong government can take on the security challenge posed by Al Qaida and miscreant elements that have vested interests in destabilising the state.