Crisis in Yemen and U.S. Objectives

Written by Frederick Kagan, Katherine Zimmerman


Political negotiations in Yemen have reached an impasse. On May 1, President Ali Abdullah Saleh refused to sign a deal aimed at ending the political unrest that has threatened to further destabilize the state. The prospect of regime change or even state collapse in Yemen undermines the entire basis of U.S. counter-terrorism operations and brings to the fore the danger posed by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a group that has already attempted multiple attacks on U.S. soil.

Yemen-mapAEI's Critical Threats Project has conducted the Yemen Strategic Exercise to explore likely scenarios of regime-transition and state-collapse in Yemen in addition to the possible American responses to these scenarios. The first phase of the exercise was to develop a series of intelligence estimates for three possible scenarios:

The second phase of the exercise is to consider American policy options in response to the most likely and most dangerous scenarios. Briefing slides outlining U.S. objectives in Yemen and identifying strategies for the United States are available to download below.

We seek and welcome input on both topics—the scenario estimates and U.S. policy options. Please address comments, questions, or feedback to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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The Critical Threats Project (CTP) provides the public and policymakers with comprehensive, unique, and objective tracking and analysis of the primary national security challenges faced by the United States. CTP is a project of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI), a private, nonpartisan, not-for-profit institution that is dedicated to research and education on issues of government, politics, economics, and social welfare based in Washington, D.C.

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