The small, unstable, and corrupt Arabic country of Yemen is beginning to look like big trouble. After the Yemeni branch of al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the abortive Christmas Day attack on Northwest Flight 253, both the U.S. and the U.K. have evacuated their embassies in the capital city of San'a, and the Yemeni military has sent an "unprecedented" number of troops to fight al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Even so, Yemen officials described reports that al Qaeda is breeding terrorism in their country as "exaggerated." How much of a terrorist threat is Yemen? (Watch a CBS report about Yemen's al Qaeda ties)
Yemen is trouble: The failed Christmas Day airline bomb attack is confirmation, as "if confirmation is needed," that this new decade will also be dominated by Islamist terrorism, says The Daily Telegraph in an editorial. "The focus of the battle is, however, shifting," largely to Yemen and Somalia, thanks to "significant" U.S. and allied successes in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It's important that we follow al Qaeda to this "dangerous new territory."
"Al-Qaeda shifts into dangerous new territory"
Yemen is a distraction: Don't let "a faulty pair of 'Made in Yemen' exploding underpants" divert our attention, says Victoria Clark in The Independent. Unlike Pakistan, "Yemen is unlikely to become a reliable safe haven for jihadists." As the Ottomans, the British, and others have learned, Yemen's powerful and warring tribes "are interested in money and land, not ideology."
"This is no country to do business with"
This is old news, but bad news: Yemen isn't "the new front in the war against" al Qaeda, says ex-FBI agent Ali H. Soufan in The New York Times. It's "been a front in that war since at least Oct. 12, 2000," when Yemeni al Qaeda operates killed 17 U.S. servicemen in the USS Cole bombing. And it's only become more important to al Qaeda since then, especially after the confessed USS Cole bombers "escaped" from Yemeni prisons in 2006.
"Scenes from the War on Terrorism in Yemen"
Overreacting is our worst option: Yemen is a terrorist problem, says Marc Lynch in Foreign Policy, but our rush to "do something" about it could easily become "a classic case of massive overreaction playing right into the hands of" al Qaeda. We can't put out every fire, and the threat from Yemen is best met by what we've been doing for a year — limited cooperation with Yemen's "mind-bogglingly corrupt" government, and selective strikes against al Qaeda.
"Don't lose perspective on Yemen"