Provoking Jihad

A group of 150 Yemeni clerics has issued the following blunt call to defend Yemen from foreign interference:

In the event of any foreign party insisting on hostilities against, an assault on, or military or security intervention in Yemen, then Islam requires all its followers to pursue jihad.

This appears to be an example occurring before our eyes of how U.S. counter-terrorism policy enflames passions, empowers radicals, and ends up generating the terrorism it was supposedly designed to combat. A systematic survey of Yemeni clerical comment on the topic would be a useful set of background information as we watch this story unfold.

It does not take many Predator attacks to stimulate a response. Washington needs to get a few more tools in its foreign policy toolbox. Unfortunately, the excuse that “we don’t have many options,” used to justify the latest self-defeating policy idea is neither true nor an excuse. It is not true because other options do exist, including contacts with dissident groups and law enforcement. It is not an excuse because in the absence of a workable policy, doing nothing trumps making things worse.

Keep an eye on how U.S. aggressiveness affects Yemeni politics.


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