Unrest in Yemen Could Have “Significant Impact” on U.S. National Security, Casey Says at Hearing and in Op-Ed

By: Jared Edgerton, Contributing Writer

As many of his colleagues became more and more immersed in the debt ceiling debate last week, United States Senator Bob Casey took to the pulpit and the Patriot-News to defend President Obama’s policy — in Yemen.

Casey, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, convened a hearing last Tuesday to discuss the political and civil unrest in Yemen.  The freshman U.S. Senator said the threat of radical Islam there is “not new, but it has grown increasingly worrisome in the past several years.”

“Given the direct threat that AQAP [Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] poses to U.S. national security – and taking into account significant gains made in U.S. operations against al Qaeda elements in Afghanistan and Pakistan over the past year – counterterrorism efforts in Yemen must be a central focus of our national security strategy,” Casey said during his opening remarks.

The Yemeni government has recently faced populist uprisings in which al-Qaeda is providing aid and support to the rebels.  In response, the Obama administration has launched a series of predator drone strikes to help bolster the response of the fledgling government.

At the hearing, Casey outlined three obstacles to Yemen’s long-term stability which he believes must be central to any U.S. involvement there..

“First, we need a better understanding of the political opposition and prospects for democratic reform…Second, we must be prepared to address a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis…Third, the U.S. and our international partners should develop a long-term strategy on conflict resolution in Yemen.”

The hearing also featured testimony from Janet Sanderson (Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs), Daniel Benjamin (Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the Department of State), Christa Capozzola (Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance at USAID), Christopher Boucek (Middle East Research Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace), and Mr. Daniel Green (Soref Fellow at the Washington Institute on Near East Policy).

In an accompanying op-ed that ran over the weekend in the Harrisburg Patriot-News, however, Casey was careful to note that Yemen “cannot be viewed through the single lens of counterterrorism.”  Though he pointed out that al Qaeda maintains a “vibrant presence” there and has used the country “as a launching pad for terrorist attacks on the U.S.,” the freshman senator ultimately concluded that any U.S. military action there must be accompanied by a humanitarian or civilian approach as well.

“In a country where vast political, security, humanitarian and development challenges continually converge, the U.S. must endeavor to formulate short-term and long-term policies to achieve our core national security goals,” he wrote.

One Response

  1. Senator Casey does no know what he is talking about.

    I have been traveling to Yemen for twenty years beginning in 1988. I know Presdient Saleh. He is not going to return. I have been writing in other forums, not generally available, that are purview to scholars, journalits, former diplomats and to other personages.

    Having spent 41 years in the international oil industry and its geo-politics- and having warned the Clinton Admistration, for all its two terms, on the fractious political uncertainties that govern Yemeni tribal politics– rent by a civil war in 1994 such efforts were to no avail. Yemen is again in a civil war with a deadly overlay of radical an Islamism.

    Now theespecial insecurites and radical Islamist politics that predomonated the old PDYR in areas from Ib on down to Aden and extending to the Hadramaut prove the point that what is past is prologue.

    President Clinton ignored warnings that date back 16 years. But so did President Bush for another eight years.President Obama has not handled this situation any better. Yemen has been a failed state since 2006 and its open descent into political chaos is now a certainty.

    You would have thought that President Obama would have learned from past errors. He has not. Neither has Senator Casey, whose talking points are shallow,uninformed and sorely lacking even a factual grasp of the issues-especially sad for a Committe Chairman. But this is the caliber of what passss for represenative elected expertise these days, irrespective of either political party.

    House Intelligence Chairman, Peter Hoekstra was a stiff necked Republican political inanity from Holland , Michigan. He could not tell the difference bewteen a barrel of oil and ajar of mayonaisse. He was grossly ingnorant of Yemen and had to make a trip out their, a quick one, in 2009 as the Saudi Arabian invasion & occupation of Sada’a beginning secretly in July , 2009, in a war against the al-Houthi raged unsuccesfuly despite massive secret US support.

    The southern apparoaches to the Red Sea through and past the Bab al-Mendab are critical to unrestricted flow of commerce, especially oil and natural gas. More importantly, unrestricted free passage from the Medeterranean and the Indin Ocan are critical to US Naval forces, especially carrier groups deployed there and into Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    It will be hard to justify a new war in Yemen . UAV’s are not going to prevent this occuring.

    Grant L. Hopkins

    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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