January 26, 2015 | Quote

The US Just Lost One Of Its Top Counterterror Partners In The Middle East

Hadi launched two major offensives against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, in 2012 and the spring of 2014. The US State Department's “Country Report on Terrorism” for 2012 called Hadi “a strong US counter-terror partner” and lauded his attempts to reform the country's security apparatus. Yemen was held up as a model for effective counterterror cooperation during President Barack Obama's Sept 10, 2014, speech announcing the start of military operations against ISIS.

But Hadi was faced with problems that he couldn't solve, and that maybe no Yemeni leader could solve. Though tactical successes, the offensives did little to permanently erode Al Qaeda's foothold in the Yemeni periphery. The Shi'ite Houthi rebels, who had fought six wars against the Sana'a government in the previous decade, were using the country's vacuum to advance their own, daunting range of political, social, and sectarian grievances. And the Yemeni state was simply too dysfunctional and too weak to handle it all.

“Hadi did as much as he could to combat Al Qaeda's presence in Yemen,” Oren Adaki, a research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Business Insider. “But the problem wasn't Hadi or his unwillingness to help out. The problem was the failures of the Yemeni state and the Yemeni system that were there before Hadi came to power.”

Hadi's willingness to cooperate so closely with the US may have lessened his legitimacy inside of Yemen and made it harder to deal with the country's other issues. He was also indecisive on a few major points. For instance, he never exiled or imprisoned his predecessor, Saleh, who remained in the country and has been credibly accused of assisting the same Houthi rebels he once fought as president. And Hadi oversaw a state-building process that inevitably failed.

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