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On Air: Is giving Yemen more money an answer to radicalism?

Krupa Thakrar Padhy Krupa Thakrar Padhy | 16:37 UK time, Tuesday, 2 November 2010

This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say on 2 November 2010. Listen to the programme.

Yemen must not become the new Afghanistan, said the the head of Britain's armed forces yesterday. But it could turn out like Somalia if the current rate of international investment doesn't increase according to Yemeni official Jalal Yaqoub.

"I'm not suggesting a failed state," he said. "What I'm suggesting (is) a state where citizens don't get the right services delivered to them."

Beyond it's security concerns, Christopher Boucek agrees that the country is on "the brink of economic disaster suffering from poor governance and quickly dwindling water supplies." And it's here he feels that foreign aid needs to up its game.

'Yemen receives nothing like the help it needs from the west. Pakistan will receive billions in US aid next year. But America plans to send only $200m in humanitarian assistance to Yemen, not even close to what is needed to contain the numerous crises that threaten its security, and our own...The danger now is that this limited help is dwarfed by new, much larger packages of security aid. Too much attention devoted, for example, to more military assistance, or to allowing the CIA to operate its drone programme in the country, is likely to inflame the internal tensions that attracted al-Qaeda in the first place.'

So who should fund and deliver these services?

Here's why more money won't do the trick; tribal networks have a strong hold over the nation, cleric Anwar al-Awlaki is thought to be living in one of these tribal areas and exerting tremendous influence. There's equally increased public opposition to US military involvement not to forget dire poverty.

Victoria Clark argues that the answer to Yemen is not increased international aid but more regional support.

'We would be well advised to leave the job of arresting Yemen's descent to Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf counties which make up the Middle East's equivalent to the European Union, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). All have substantial Yemeni diaspora and a much better understanding of how the country's internal and tribal affairs work. They also have the funds and, as the attack on Prince Mohammad bin Nayef shows, the immediate and pressing motivation.'

But is this threat too serious to sit back and wait for Yemen's neighbours to step in? Robert Baer warns,

'..the more ominous truth is that these bombs have the hallmark of a higher degree of professionalism than we've ever seen come out of al-Qaeda...Something else that should worry us about Yemen is that the militants there appear to have better intelligence and organization than al-Qaeda has shown in the past. If indeed al-Qaeda's base is now in Yemen, we're facing a whole new dynamic. Yemen's well-armed and notoriously independent tribes are even less likely than those of Pakistan to stand for a sustained aerial campaign against the militants. Angered, the tribes can be all but counted on to move on Yemen's capital Sana'a and other major cities, dragging the country into a full-fledged civil war.'

U.S. officials are already reportedly considering increasing operations in Yemen but as Ishaan Tharoor argues,

'If Washington believes it can wholly guide Yemen away from dysfunction, it has its hands full - as in Afghanistan, foreign intervention here has little record of success and, invariably, has caused more harm than good.'

In Yemen, terrorism thrives on poverty - but is money really the answer to combating radicalism in the country now labelled as the 'new crucible of terror'?


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