Yemen’s attempts to defeat a resurgent Al Qa’ida can succeed if the country is allowed to deal with the problem itself, says Middle East scholar Fawaz Gerges, and is offered assistance to takle the multiple challenges tearing its social fabric apart.
In a lecture at the London School of Economic and Political Science (LSE), Professor Gerges analysed the challenge from Al Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in relations to more potent social and political threats and the ways the Yemeni government and society as a whole can stop the troubled state from plunging into further political turmoil.
Professor Gerges, Director of the Middle East Centre at LSE, concedes that Yemen is: 'a fragile state with failing institutions, a collapsed economy, and staggering political and armed rebellions.’ However, in his lecture he rejected comparisons with Afghanistan and Somalia - arguing that it remains within the power of Yemeni society to stop Al-Qa’ida from becoming a permanent threat to the nation.
However, he warned in the lecture, this joint action by Yemenis can only succeed if it is indepedent and not seen as entirely US-sponsored. He said: ‘While counterterrorism measures might kill AQAP fighters, they alienate Muslim opinion, cause a public backlash against the U.S. and do not resolve the social crisis that provides a fertile soil to extremist groups like al-Qa`ida.’
Professor Gerges also identified some of the key figures in the political struggle, gave details of some of Al-Qa’ida supporters and analysed the options open to President Saleh and his fellow Yemenis.
A podcast of the full lecture is available at http://www.lse.ac.uk/resources/podcasts/publicLecturesAndEvents.htm