Opinion Brief

Time to bomb Yemen?

The Obama administration is set to escalate military strikes against Yemen — home to an increasingly threatening al Qaeda spin-off group. Smart move?

According to the C.I.A., the Yemen branch of al Qaeda has overtaken the Pakistan-based core group as the most dangerous threat to U.S. security — prompting the Obama administration to ready an escalation of U.S. operations in Yemen. Known as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemen branch, responsible for the failed "Christmas bomber" terrorism attack, has thrived as C.I.A. drones have decimated al Qaeda's leadership in Pakistan. Now, the White House may order a "clandestine campaign" of military strikes, including predator drone attacks, on strategic Yemeni sites. Is this the right course of action? (Watch an MSNBC discussion about Yemen's threat)

Something has to be done about this hidden war: Yemen is "a country collapsing in slow motion," says Tim Marshall at Sky News. Sectarian violence has "plagued" the country all year, the military has reacted with a heavy hand, and AQAP is flourishing as a result. We must act to ensure Yemen does not "fall apart" into civil war — or the effects could harm us all. "Yemen. Don't you know there's a war on?"

Military aggression is the wrong approach: Yemen's fragility is exactly why we should back off, says Glenn Greenwald at Salon. "Slaughtering civilians and dropping cluster bombs from the sky" will achieve nothing in Yemen except an increase in "anti-American hatred" and a new generation joining the "ranks of extremists." Have we learned nothing from the last decade? "An exciting new Muslim country to drone attack"

Drone attacks may make matters worse: There's a difference between demolishing al Qaeda's leadership with C.I.A. drone strikes as we did in Pakistan, says Marc Ambinder at The Atlantic, and actually degrading their networks. "The latter involves targeting safe houses, facilitators of communications, low-level operatives... as well as strategic communication... something that special forces tend to do better than the C.I.A.""The threat from Al Qaeda"

We must enlist Yemen's help to fight AQAP: A careful hand is required to tackle this "dangerous affiliate" of al Qaeda, says an editorial in The Christian Science Monitor. The U.S. must help "build up the weak Yemeni government and promote economic development" if it plans to increase military attacks. Public support for our actions is key to avoid another "American quagmire." "Obama's other surge — in Yemen"

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