Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts Change, Challenges, and Chaos in Yemen and Saudi Arabia

Change, Challenges, and Chaos in Yemen and Saudi Arabia

  • February 3, 2015
Christopher Swift

Adjunct Professor of National Security Studies, Georgetown University

Fellow, Center for National Security Law, University of Virginia Law School


In the last few weeks, two key U.S. Allies in a vital area of the world have faced different but equally profound challenges to their stability. In Saudi Arabia, the death of King Abdullah removed a strong conservative voice from the Middle East and raised anew uncomfortable questions about the long-term fate of the Monarchy and its institutions. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s southern neighbor Yemen, a long-standing partner of both Riyadh and Washington, was plunged into chaos when a militant Shiite minority group, the Houthis, overthrew the government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Although the Houthis are not natural friends of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), their hostility to both Americans and Saudis challenges the future of Washington’s anti-terror policies in the region, and opens the door to more influence for the Houthis’ Shiite patron, Iran. What does this season of change mean for the past and future of Yemen and Saudi Arabia, or for an American policy that President Obama once cited as a signal success of his administration? To answer this question and more, join Ron Granieri as he interviews Christopher Swift.

Christopher SwiftChristopher Swift is an Adjunct Professor of National Security Studies at Georgetown University and a Fellow of the Center for National Security Law at the University of Virginia Law School. A fearless researcher, Swift has field experience in many conflict zones and in places where Al Qaeda thrives, including Yemen. He has served as guest analyst on the BBC, CBS News, CNN, NPR, ABC News, and other leading broadcast media. Swift served in the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, where he investigated international transactions involving terrorist syndicates, weapons proliferators, rogue states, and others. He is the author of the forthcoming book The Fighting Vanguard: Local Insurgencies in the Global Jihad.

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