12:15pm

Wed April 6, 2011
Middle East

Why The Future Of Yemen Is So Important

Clashes between protesters in Yemen demanding President Ali Abdullah Saleh's immediate resignation and security forces loyal to the regime continue to bring deadly violence.

While reports vary, most say more than 100 people have been killed since Yemen's protests began in January, inspired, in part, by the other uprisings across the Middle East.

And as thousands continue to call for the ouster of the country's president, the Obama administration's position on Yemen appears to have changed. On Monday, The New York Times reported that the "United States, which long supported Yemen's president ... has now quietly shifted positions and has concluded that [Saleh] is unlikely to bring about the required reforms and must be eased out of office."

Saleh has long been a significant U.S. ally in the fight against al-Qaida, which has many senior-level members in Yemen. Both the 2009 Christmas Day in-flight bombing attempt and the 2010 loading of explosive printer cartridges onto American-bound cargo planes originated in the country.

On today's Fresh Air, The New Yorker's Dexter Filkins, who just returned from a trip to Yemen, explains what's at stake in the country — and why U.S. counterterrorism officials have reasons to be concerned about Yemen's future. Filkins profiles Yemen's resistance movement in the April 11 edition of The New Yorker, where he notes that "Yemen is now considered one of the most likely places from which al-Qaida count mount an attack on America." Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.