After the failed Christmas bomb attack on a U.S.-bound plane in which the prime suspect admitted that he’d been trained at an al Qaeda boot camp in Yemen, President Obama doubled U.S. security funding to that country, but resisted introducing U.S. troops.
But is U.S. military money the best stabilizer? The Gulf of Aden, a strategic sea lane more recently known as “Pirate Alley,” touches Yemen, Somalia, and Djibouti. All three risk becoming hotbeds for al Qaeda due to the lack of social and political stability. “I am wary of any American involvement in the region,” Paul Hinder, Catholic archbishop of the area, told Sojourners. “Yemenites resent any interference from outsiders, from America in particular for its often heavy-handed approach in protection of its own interests.”
Archbishop Hinder prioritizes strong support from Arab neighbors to help Yemen resolve its internal problems and to deal with al Qaeda. “There’s little hope that U.S. financial support in the fight against terrorism won’t end up in the wrong pockets. Without more dialogue and power-sharing between the Yemeni government, tribes, regions, and political and economic interest groups resulting in greater national unity, little will be achieved.” Currently, there are about 3,000 Christians in Yemen; most are refugees or temporary workers. Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity have served in Yemen since 1973. “Their work is appreciated,” Archbishop Hinder told Sojourners, “but they are restricted in their outreach by problems of security.”
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