n his address to the nation about countering ISIS, President Obama said that the will model for his strategy will be the one we have employed in Yemen against al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP). That strategy consists of relying on the Yemeni government to combat AQAP on the ground and pitching in with targeted air strikes to degrade that terrorists’ leadership.
On its face, the applicability of the Yemen model to Iraq and Syria seems dubious. ISIS, an army of up to 30,000 members, is far more formidable than AQAP in Yemen.
In addition, Katherine Zimmerman, a senior analyst at the American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project, warns that “Yemen model” may well fail even in Yemen. The problem is that the government of Yemen, on whom we rely for the foot soldiers, will only fight AQAP to the extent it is not diverted by threats it views as more pressing. And currently, a more pressing threat looms.
That threat consists of the al Houthis, an armed Yemeni opposition group supported by Iran. Already, it has seized parts of the capital and forced the main Sunni party out of power.