Yemen needs a coordinated surge of financial and civilian support from its neighbours to underpin any effort to build the essential good governance. This would allow Yemenis to plan for their future in a more stable and coherent manner. Outside attention on Yemen has focused far too much on security issues, and ignored vital nation-building, which is required to pull the country back from the ‘failed nation’ status into which it has drifted over decades of misrule. But all this military thinking has failed to change the poor governance offered by the new President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who is unable to impose government control over the whole country, as the storming of the US embassy yesterday over the anti-Islam film illustrates.
Yemen remains a battleground between Al Qaida and the US, with hundreds of people being killed in a brutal war. Al Qaida did control several areas of Yemen, but even though its was defeated and driven out of overt control, this victory did not translate into elimination and its cells are still entrenched in secret, and able to operate.
This week, Al Qaida orchestrated a bomb attack on Yemen’s defence minister. The minister escaped, but 13 people, including eight guards and five bystanders, were killed. At the same time, more than 300 Yemenis have been accidentally killed by drone attacks since early 2012, and the US has launched more that 116 drone attacks since May 2011, although only 39 have been confirmed.
Yemenis have been forced to regard such endemic violence as normal, but that desperate assumption is wrong. Yemen’s neighbours should combine to help the government overcome its problems and allow Yemenis to lead a more normal life. There has been far too much concentration on the security situation with not enough attention paid to civil issues.
Yemen needs strong security and it is a priority, but running drone programmes from the US is not going to rebuild the country. It also needs investment and a return to the rule of law so that its able and educated population can start to flourish.