The US is moving to bolster its influence in Yemen, and the capabilities of the Yemeni military, to address what one Obama administration official calls “a window of vulnerability” against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The administration is considering creating forward operating bases for the Yemeni military in the tribal regions where AQAP operates, and staffing them with US trainers and advisers, the Wall Street Journal reports. The CIA has also been moving equipment into the country, and putting more spies in the field there.
Yemeni officials say they welcome the bases, but aren’t as keen on the US trainers. “Why create unnecessary problems?” says one. “Situating foreigners in security posts would be misconstrued as an unwelcome foreign presence.” The US already trains Yemeni counterterrorism teams, but those teams have been ineffective so far, and the US fears many are fighting Yemeni rebels and separatists rather than al-Qaeda. Proponents of the new bases argue that they’d push Yemen’s focus into those regions, and provide more badly needed on-the-ground intelligence.