Congressman Robert Dold (IL-10), along with Congressmen Mike Pompeo, Trent Franks, Adam Kinzinger, and Steve Southerland, recently sent the following letterto Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The letter urges the U.S. Department of State to focus on confronting the threat of Al Qaeda's expansion in Yemen, and calls for the State Department to provide Congress with their strategic plan for Yemen. Yemen, a hotbed of terrorist activity and also a nation of strategic interest for the United States, has been hovering on the brink of civil war in recent weeks and is in danger of becoming a failed state. With this letter, Congressman Dold and his colleagues seek greater clarity on the U.S. strategy to maintain security in Yemen.
FULL TEXT OF LETTER, BELOW:
June 17, 2011
The Honorable Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Secretary Clinton,
The recent violence in Yemen serves as a stark reminder of the problems facing this strategic nation - and consequently America's national interests in the region. With Yemen hovering on the brink of civil war, the U.S. must take real and serious steps to ensure Yemen does not fall into anarchy, allowing terrorists to pose a greater threat. While you have recently called for President Saleh to step down, you have not articulated a clear plan to ensure that Yemen does not become a failed state. We urge you to provide Congress with your plan for Yemen. Greater regional engagement, focused on multilateral cooperation, is certainly a portion of any plan, but further steps are necessary to ensure that the security of Yemen is maintained.
Yemen is of great importance to the United States, given its geopolitical significance, and it is becoming a primary base of operations for Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP). It is essential for Yemen to remain a focal point for U.S. anti-terrorism efforts. In 2000, the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole was attacked in a terrorist effort planned by Al Qaeda, which killed 17 U.S. servicemen and wounded 39 others. Nearly a decade later, both the Christmas Day bombing plot of 2009 and the November 2010 AQAP plot to use cargo planes to hide parcel bombs to attack the U.S. had roots in Yemen. The radical American-born cleric Anwar al Awlaki, who is linked to these terrorist plots, is currently hiding in Yemen. AQAP continues to be a critical threat to our nation's security, and our policies need to reflect the urgency of this threat.
From what began as clashes in the capital, three major flash points have erupted. In addition to continued street fighting in the capital, government troops are shooting down protestors in Taiz, and a battle rages against Al Qaeda and other Islamic militants in Zinjibar. As Yemen remains divided by political turmoil, AQAP is becoming stronger. In addition, Yemen is also experiencing an increased Iranian influence with the Houthi rebels -- a serious threat as Iran seeks to pursue regional hegemony.
With that in mind, Madame Secretary, we urge you to take action to prevent the Yemeni government from spiraling into complete anarchy. The stability of Yemen is not only important for the security of the Yemeni people, but it is also a matter of U.S. national security.
We appreciate your attention to this matter. We look forward to your quick response on the steps you will take to ensure the stability of Yemen. Please let us know through classified or unclassified communiqués.
Signatures: Mike Pompeo, Robert Dold, Trent Franks, Adam Kinzinger, Steve Southerland