The unrest in Yemen has utterly derailed all counterterrorism operations in the country, giving free rein to one of al-Qaeda’s deadliest branches, diplomats, intelligence analysts, and counterterrorism officials tell the New York Times. There has been more “chatter” about an upcoming attack, possibly against the US or Europe, and some analysts believe that more foreign fighters than usual are coming into the country to join the terrorists’ ranks. As most Yemeni troops have either abandoned their posts or been recalled to the capital, al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula has stepped up attacks on the remaining Yemeni security forces in recent weeks.
Some experts even suspect that president Ali Abdullah Saleh pulled the troops back in an attempt to worsen the crisis and force the US to support him, though one top US military official called that theory baseless. The US is now considering resuming airstrikes to fill the void, something it hasn’t done since accidentally killing a deputy governor last May. For more on Yemen's al-Qaeda wing, click here.