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Friday, November 9, 2012

Yemen: Background and U.S. Relations

Jeremy M. Sharp
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs

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 at large in Yemen’s hinterlands, and international efforts to bolster the country’s stability despite an array of daunting socio-economic problems. Congress and U.S. policymakers may be concerned with prospects for stabilizing Yemen and establishing strong bilateral relations with future 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. He received 6.6 million votes and, on February 25, 2012, he was inaugurated before parliament.

Many Administration officials have declared that AQAP, the Yemeni-based terrorist organization that has attempted on several occasions to attack the U.S. homeland, is the most lethal of the Al Qaeda affiliates. In recent years, the Administration and Congress have supported an increased U.S. commitment of resources to counterterrorism and stabilization efforts there. Many analysts assert that Yemen is becoming a failed state and safe haven for Al Qaeda operatives and as such should be considered an active theater for U.S. counterterrorism operations. 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.

For FY2013, the Obama Administration is requesting $72.6 million in State Departmentadministered economic and military aid for Yemen. The Administration ceased outlays of previously appropriated aid for Yemen during the past year due to political unrest there, although the delivery of some aid resumed in September 2011.

Date of Report: November 1, 2012
Number of Pages: 23
Order Number: RL34170
Price: $29.95

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