American presidents have a weakness for finding a remote area of the world in which to plunge our troops in the name of fighting communism or terrorists or for peace. The bungled suicide attack by a Nigerian students on a plane whose underwear failed to explode has resulted in demands for American action in Yemen. This country of 22 million has, at best, about 300 al-Qaeda agents, but it does have an infinite number of clans and groups which are fighting the government which they charge is corrupt and unable to address their needs. Al-Qaeda has done what any intelligent revolutionary group would do–ally itself with rebels and claim the goals of rebels match their own. South Yemen(formerly Aden) has been seething with rebellion for years and groups like the Zaydi Shia near the border of Saudi Arabia are fighting for their rights.
A recent article in the UK Independent noted that Yemen has an effective program of airport security which X-Rays baggage and people. However, once people and their baggage get through security they enter a lounge area where they can purchase goods like knives and swords and thus board the plane well armed. This story is symbolic of the problem. Yemen has to fight with its own dissident groups and the USA cannot help resolve these problems. It is best to distance America from this struggle. If we enter as we did in Iraq, the end result will be fighting in Yemen for years.