Nearly three years after Yemen ousted a decades-old dictatorship and began a political transition aimed at preventing civil war, the fragile nation is once again on the brink of disaster.
Fighting between Iran-backed Houthi rebels who control the capital, Sanaa, and Al-Qaeda-linked militants appears to be intensifying. In recent days, bombings and gun battles between the two groups and their allies have reportedly killed dozens in central Yemen. And the country’s political leadership is in tatters.
Under President Obama, the US has strengthened security ties to Yemen in order to go after Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is seen as posing a threat to the US homeland. This includes US drone strikes, which have been stepped up since Houthi rebels stormed the capital in September and asserted control.
I don't spend a lot of time blogging about Yemen, as I've noted before. It is a country split between Shias and Sunnis and has actually been North Yemen and South Yemen in the recent past.
Indeed, it is so ugly that at one time Egypt sent an army to fight in that territory where they even used poison gas.
So I think of Yemen not so much as a front in the war on terror but as a local mess where locals will fight each other. Constantly. It is simply a place where al Qaeda jihadis can thrive and where we can try to kill them when the opportunity presents itself to keep them too off balance to attack us at home.
Yemen is getting worse. The Saudis will worry a lot. And the Iranians will rejoice.
We should worry about why those countries will worry and rejoice.
And we may have to send in Marines to evacuate our embassy.