Leading experts call on Obama to focus on aid instead of drone attacks on Yemen

Atlantic Council: Twenty-seven leading foreign policy experts have sent a letter to President Obama, calling for a broader approach on US policy towards Yemen that “expands beyond the narrow lens of counterterrorism.” As US intelligence agencies point to the rise of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) activity making Yemen the next front in counterterrorism, the letter, signed by diplomats, security specialists, scholars, and US policy experts, argues that current US policy is short-sighted. It strongly urges for better policy that still serves America’s national interests by decreasing extremism and combating security threats in the region, but through a comprehensive, long-term approach that addresses Yemen’s social, economic, and political challenges.

The five-page letter, signed by, among others, former US Ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine, argues that current US counterterrorism policy toward Yemen “does not address the underlying causes that have propelled such [militant] forces to find fertile ground in Yemen” and that US public diplomacy only reinforces such perceptions: “Although the Department of State, USAID, and others have invested millions in development and governance projects, the perception both in the US and in Yemen is that we are singularly focused on AQAP. Yemenis need to know that their country is more than a proxy battleground and that our long-term commitment to the stability, development, and legitimacy of the country matches our more immediate and urgent commitment to the defeat of AQAP.”

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