The Great Debate
Yemen is witnessing another bout of instability, as Shi’ite Houthi rebels seized the presidential palace on Tuesday in the capital Sanaa demanding power-sharing concessions from President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is being held as a virtual prisoner in his residence. In the ensuing chaos, some worry about whether the volatile political situation could end up strengthening al Qaeda.
In the aftermath of 9/11, the biggest fear that haunted U.S. counter-terrorism officials was that al-Qaeda or its allies would somehow get hold of a weapon of mass destruction: a biological agent or a nuclear bomb.
The year ahead could see the outbreak of the third Chechen war, which, in turn, could be the death knell of the Russian Federation in its current borders.
President Barack Obama, in an interview earlier this year with New Yorker editor David Remnick, offered an unfortunate comparison. “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate,” the president said, “is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”
The government’s charges against Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law looked pretty thin. Washington was basically claiming that the Kuwaiti imam had made a few inflammatory speeches — one praising the September 11 attacks and another warning that more attacks on tall buildings were soon to come. It didn’t sound like much, given that the charges were providing “material support” for terrorism and conspiring to kill Americans.
The second round of peace talks in Geneva between representatives of Bashar Al-Assad’s regime in Syria and rebel forces has ended with both sides blaming each other for the lack of progress. Beyond the finger-pointing, however, lies a growing danger to the goal of a negotiated settlement. The civil war’s religious divides are widening, making compromise unthinkable.