With renewed focus on al Qaeda threats emanating from Yemen, the US is substantially increasing support to several branches of the Yemeni military. However, Yemen’s military and security forces are often involved in for-profit ventures, on both overt and covert levels. The task of building up Yemen’s Coast Guard demonstrates such difficulties.
Last year, the Coast Guard complained several times to the Interior Ministry that the Border Guard was complicit in criminal activity and “aiding smugglers as smuggling takes place in an organized way,” the Yemen Post reported. The Border Guards prevented the Coast Guard from searching boats suspected of smuggling, sometimes resulting violent clashes between the forces’ members.
The diversion of US aid into private pockets is another area of concern. US support to Yemen’s Coast Guard began in 2003, and it seems a worthy investment in light of the wide variety of criminal networks operating in Yemeni waters.
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