The Americans and its staunch allies, Oman and Saudi Arabia, are fighting a losing battle in Yemen, a small country at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, to Al-Qaeda Arabian Peninsula (AQAP); the most dangerous branch of the Islamic fundamentalist militant group.
The recent attack took place early morning as the change of guard ceremony was taking place. The target of this suicide attack was the sprawling office of the Ministry of Defense in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. The Ministry of Defense is located in the old district of the city.
First, a car loaded with explosive rammed into the western entrance of the complex, followed by another car full of assailants wearing uniforms of the Yemeni army stormed into the hospital building. Their indiscriminate firing killed at least 30 people while over 70 were wounded, the number of dead and those wounded is expected to rise. The majority of the dead belong to the Yemeni military and the militants; in addition, five doctors, including three foreign nationals and one patient, are also reported dead. The brother of the President of the interim government, Abdurahub Mansur Hadi, is also a patient at this hospital. The suicide bomb was of such high intensity that it shook the whole of the old district of Sanaa, destroying major portions of the hospital and damaging the adjoining buildings. No one has taken responsibility for this attack, but, according to the political commentators, the attack has all the hallmarks of AQAP.
This is the latest in the spate of violence that has crippled Yemen ever since the 33-year corrupt rule of Abdulah Saleh was ended by anti-government protesters in 2011. It is held by some security analysts that the supporters of the late president are also responsible for some of the violence in Yemen.
The Americans and their allies are fighting a losing battle in Yemen for a number of reasons. First, is the presence of AQAP. Second, is the rough terrain which is ideal for hit and run operations and unconventional warfare at which AOAP is a master now. Third, is the presence of secessionist in the south of the country. Fourth, is the sectarian strife between the Sunni and the Shiite Muslims. Fifth, is the presence of the Houthi rebels in the north. Sixth, the major ill which besets Yemen is a weak economy plus a weak government, which, in a way, is the root cause of all the problems noted above. The rising inflation and unemployment makes this country a haven for terrorist, secessionist and rebels groups to induct new recruits among their ranks on a daily basis.
Yemen is the only country besides Pakistan where the CIA carries out regular drone strikes against militant groups, but they don’t seem to make much of a difference as the law and order situation in the country is worsening by the hour. All these elements combine to make Yemen not only one of the most dangerous and difficult countries to govern, but also a region where America and its allies are fighting a losing battle for what seems a lost cause.
Editorial by Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada