News / Middle East

US Government Pressed Over Yemen Uncertainty

Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh
Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh
Nico Colombant

While the political and security situation in Yemen spirals into uncertainty, U.S.-based pressure groups and analysts are pressing the U.S. government for more helpful action.

Amitabh Pal is one of many U.S.-based analysts disappointed that the U.S. government has not been more effective in helping move Yemen toward a peaceful, democratic solution.

Pal recently wrote a book about nonviolent movements in the Muslim world called Islam Means Peace. "The reason is that the Obama administration like every other U.S. administration has to balance its strategic and geopolitical interests with its concerns over human rights and democracy.  So it is trying to play on two fronts at once and the result is this very muddled, very inconsistent approach," he said.

Pal says the Yemen situation is potentially the most difficult and dangerous of all the so-called "Arab spring" protest movements to deal with. "There are arms afloat in Yemen to a very large extent much larger than in other Arab countries and there has been a presence of al-Qaida in Yemen again much larger than in pretty much any other Arab country, and I knew that it would probably devolve and degenerate soon and I am surprised in some sense that it took this long," he said.

Faris Almatrahi, a human rights activist with the Yemeni Youth Abroad for Change group, says the United States, for years, picked the wrong security ally in three-decade President Ali Abdullah Saleh. He has refused to step down, despite the mounting non-violent youth driven protests and Friday's rocket attack on the presidential compound which injured him.  

"The president of Yemen due to his lack of leadership and the situation that he has placed Yemen in is providing the ideal recruiting environment for extremism in Yemen.  You have these recruiting mechanisms that take all that poverty and environment and situation and directs it to the Yemeni government and links it to the United States and builds up that hatred toward the Yemeni government and toward the United States for allying itself with such a corrupt government," he said.

Almatrahi is also calling for U.S. sanctions against Yemen's government.

A former U.S. ambassador to Yemen, Edmund J. Hull, has also appealed for targeted sanctions, as well as forceful demands for President Saleh's immediate resignation, and the endorsement of early elections.

Aliya Naim, a co-director for a group called Yemen Peace Project, says the situation is getting very alarming, and she fears military defectors could soon join tribal clans in escalating armed pressure against the ailing president.

"One thing that we have not seen that could potentially make the situation a lot worse if it happened concerns Ali Mohsen, who is the leader of the part of the army that defected back in March after the first massacre of protesters. We have not seen them getting involved on a full-blown scale in the conflict.  I believe it is 40 percent of the army that Ali Mohsen controls. If he got fully involved in this military conflict that would just really throw Yemen into civil war, with no going back," she said.

Her group is trying to raise medical funds to help injured protesters in Yemen.

It is also organizing a letter writing campaign to elected U.S representatives to put more pressure on the U.S. government.

For his part, President Barack Obama sent counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan to discuss the Yemen situation with officials in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this week. On Friday the White House called for restraint, a peaceful transfer of power, and an end to what it called "senseless" violence in Yemen.

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs