Yemen has now seen on-again, off-again air raids for several weeks, launched both by the Yemeni government and Saudi Arabia. It all raises the question whether the situation, in 2010, will further escalate?
Yemen has been a center for Al-Qaeda activity for some time. The USS Cole destroyer was attacked when anchoring at the Aden port on October 12, 2000. Al-Qaeda also maintained a communications hub in the country for some time in the run-up to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S.
The environment in Yemen appears to be growing increasingly volatile.
In November, Saudi Arabia attacked Houthi rebels, who had crossed into its territory from northern Yemen – where they are battling the Yemeni government. Since then, there have been several more air strikes by the Saudi government.
The Houthi’s are Shia, whereas Yemen (and Saudi Arabia) are predominantly Sunni.
But the Yemeni government also has been taking up military action. The government's focus has been Al-Qaeda elements in the country. Another such raid took place today, where the official Yemeni government news agency, SABA, says 30 militants were killed.A similar attack took place a week ago.
Is something big brewing in Yemen? Al-Qaeda is likely to seek to retaliate, either against Yemeni interests or foreign interests in the country.
The other question the situation raises is whether the U.S. and NATO countries are paying enough attention to the simmering tension as they grapple with what to do in Afghanistan?