Yemen: six 'facts' to question

With Yemen in upheaval, US pundits have peddled inflated fears about the threat it poses. While it’s easy to identify risk factors, circumstances don’t spell the kind of chaos Americans most fear, nor do they validate US support for President Ali Abdullah Saleh. His unpopular government has little moral or logistical ground to stand on.

After a violent government crackdown on protesters Friday, three key military leaders have defected to the opposition, in addition to numerous other diplomats and lawmakers. But this doesn’t necessarily spell a victory for democracy.

Sheila Carapico, a professor of political science and international relations at The University of Richmond and American University in Cairo debunks six claims about the tumult in Yemen.

1. 'If President Ali Abdullah Saleh falls, radical anti-American jihadists will take over in Yemen.'

Yemeni anti-government protesters shout slogans demanding the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh during a protest in central Sanaa on March 22, 2011 as Yemen's parliamentary opposition rejected an offer from Saleh to step down by January 2012.

President Saleh has reigned over, cultivated, and reveled in increasing chaos. The tide of public opinion is now clearly against his rule. The pro-democracy protesters, like their brethren in Tunisia and Egypt, are mostly youthful, secular reformers, and many professionals from across the political spectrum have now joined their ranks. The choice is not between Mr. Saleh and Al Qaeda.

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