Hundreds of women protested today in Yemen, urging the government to pass a fiercely debated bill that would ban child marriage. Roughly half of Yemeni girls are married before turning 18 – with some only half that old.
The clerics' promise to wage jihad if the US boosts its military presence was an indirect message from President Saleh's government, said a senior Yemeni analyst. The clerics also noted positively a US effort to dampen fears of deeper military intervention.
Iman University, a Sunni religious school in Yemen, educated US Taliban member John Walker Lindh and gave a teaching post to militant American preacher Anwar al-Awlaki. The school denied rumors that it hosted "underwear bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, but concern over its militant ties are growing.
The US is ramping up military aid to Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country, in an effort to go after Al Qaeda linked militants. But too heavy a footprint, analysts warn, could prove a recruiting boon for militants.