May 17, 2011
Crisis in Yemen and U.S. Objectives
Political negotiations in Yemen have reached an impasse. On May 1, President Ali Abdullah Saleh refused to sign a deal aimed at ending the political unrest that has threatened to further destabilize the state. The prospect of regime change or even state collapse in Yemen undermines the entire basis of U.S. counter-terrorism operations and brings to the fore the danger posed by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a group that has already attempted multiple attacks on U.S. soil.
AEI's Critical Threats Project has conducted the Yemen Strategic Exercise to explore likely scenarios of regime-transition and state-collapse in Yemen in addition to the possible American responses to these scenarios. The first phase of the exercise was to develop a series of intelligence estimates for three possible scenarios:
1) Peaceful transition of power from Saleh to some successor(s)
2) Forceful removal of Saleh and regime loyalists by elements of the Yemeni military (escalation ranging from bloodless coup to civil war)
3) State fragmentation with or without Saleh nominally in charge in Sana’a
The second phase of the exercise is to consider American policy options in response to the most likely and most dangerous scenarios. Briefing slides outlining U.S. objectives in Yemen and identifying strategies for the United States are available to download below.
We seek and welcome input on both topics—the scenario estimates and U.S. policy options. Please address comments, questions, or feedback to [email protected].