Why America's Yemen policy is failing

Originally published in CNN Opinion
February 13, 2015

Soldiers watch as anti-Houthi protesters demonstrate against the dissolution of Yemen's parliament and the takeover by the armed Shi'ite Muslim Houthi group, during a rally in the southwestern city Taiz, February 13, 2015. (Reuters)

News that the United States has suspended operations at its embassy in Yemen -- and reports that Houthi rebels have seized US Marines' weapons -- have laid bare the failure of US policy in the country.

The Houthis -- a Shiite insurgent group backed by Iran -- are now the key power brokers in Sana’a, Yemen's capital. They have also extended their presence far south of their historical northern stronghold, advances that prompted Yemen's entire executive branch to resign on January 22, following a successful siege of the presidential compound.

In the process, the Houthis have destroyed Yemen's legal government, thrown out its draft constitution, infiltrated its intelligence services and security forces, and demanded that all sides in Yemen's complex and acrimonious socio-political-economic system play by their rules. Meanwhile, their military expansion is beginning to fuel sectarian Sunni support for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, which is recruiting and expanding its operations. 

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