Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Water woes could undermine Yemen's drive against Al-Qaeda

Water woes could undermine Yemen's drive against Al-Qaeda

Impoverished Yemen is reeling under the threat of Al-Qaeda, northern Shiite rebels and southern secessionists, but a lack of water is putting its ancient capital at even greater risk, experts say.

Within a decade -- or even less -- Sanaa could become the first waterless capital in the world, they warn, adding the outlook is also bleak for the rest of this parched country where wells in some regions are already dry.

A conference in London
on Wednesday will discuss Yemen's anti-terrorism drive, but it is unclear whether the water woes that experts say are likely to fuel more insecurity are on the agenda.

Water disputes and riots in this largely tribal nation could squeeze Yemen's struggling government, undermining its ability to remain focused on an increasingly alarming security situation.

The United States and major European powers, concerned about the possible fallout from a resurgent Al-Qaeda, have been pressuring Sanaa to uproot the Islamic militants. Yemen says it needs arms, training and funds to do that.

"The situation in Yemen is rapidly deteriorating in the face of several challenges, all of which have the potential to develop into a serious crisis within the next five years," the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said in a report last year.

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