Greg mentioned below that there is news about the Huthi rebellion being drowned out a little by all the AQAP coverage. For those new to the blog, we won’t get too deep into the history of the war. Suffice it to say that even if your only concern is al-Qaeda, this is a draining and distracting conflict that pushes Yemen even further down the failed state highway.
But there is some news today of another ceasefire, though it is broadly similar to the one in September that didn’t work.
It has long been the contention of at least half of Waq al-Waq that the government launched the “Operation Scorched Earth” campaign for a few reasons. A political solution would have been difficult and time-consuming, and there was literally just too much else to deal with. So while bombing would make a political solution in the future even more unlikely, a campaign that ends with even semi-submission would allow the government to punt, and focus on AQAP and the southern secession movement. In addition, it would also demonstrate to the southerners the willingness of the government to bomb its own citizens. Needless to say this got far more complicated with Saudi involvement.
The merits and long-term effects of the ceasefire aside, the US can not afford to ignore the rebellion, nor can it be taken in entirely by the government narrative. I would imagine the USG is loathe to involve itself in another struggle, but it is in its best interest to try to tamp down some of the chaos. While being overtly and harshly critical of Salih might hurt the fight against AQAP, pumping money into refugee aid and helping to negate some of the harsher actions of Scorched Earth could help improve the US image in a country. We seem to forget, often, that at least 50% of the struggle against radical fundamentalism is public relations. Focusing entirely on AQAP will both strengthen their hand and accelerate Yemen’s decline.