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Yemen Town Falls to al-Qaida, Spurs Concerns in US and Saudi Arabia

Yemen Town Falls to al-Qaida, Spurs Concerns in US and Saudi Arabia

A small Yemeni town has been run over by terrorist group al-Qaida.

According to reports, Radda was captured after al-Qaida troops entered the town on Saturday evening. The militant terrorist group has already raised their flag over the citadel in town, just 100 miles south of the Yemeni capital of Sanaa.

Yemen, a country in which many analysts have dubbed a failed state for years, has been struggling with Arab Spring protests for nearly a year with much of the population attempting to dismantle the 30-year reign of Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) seized the town of Radda with little resistance from the town’s 60,000 residents. Two Yemeni soldiers were reported dead as the group bombarded a prison and surrounded federal buildings.

Although Saleh officially signed an agreement handing over power to his vice president in November 2011, his power remains in tact and some believe that his continued presence despite agreeing to step down has emboldened groups like al-Qaida to expand their power base.

At the onset of Yemeni protests, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia backed Saleh due to fears over AQAP. Saleh warned that in his absence that the militant group was poised to take over the entire country and plunge it into further chaos.

Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the world and AQAP militants have already captured several towns in the nation. The ever-expanding presence of the militant group in the fragile country is raising eyebrows with the U.S. and Saudi Arabia over what al-Qaida’s expansion might mean for the region.

Fears abound about al-Qaida’s power base in provinces key to cargo and shipping lanes near the Red Sea, as well as how their presence could impact the development and security in the impoverished nation and what the regional implications of further chaos would mean.

“The priority for the kingdom at the moment is how do we stop this tsunami from spreading through the (Arabian) Peninsula,” Yemen expert Fernando Carvajal told NPR regarding the spread of al-Qaida this past October.

The U.S. has called the Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula the most dangerous wing of the militant network.

How the spread of the militant group could impact U.S. President Barack Obama and his strong national security record in 2012 elections remains to be seen.

Obama had a notoriously successful national security year in 2011 with some of the world’s most notorious despots and top al-Qaida leaders, including Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki, having been taken off the map.

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