In his first interview since leaving the White House last fall, former Obama National Security Advisor Jim Jones warned that the way events were unfolding in Yemen were “not good.”
Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been an ally of the United States in the fight against terrorism, is facing increasing pressure to step down; Jones echoed language coming from the White House, noting that the situation in Yemen is “very worrisome.”
“Saleh’s been very skillful over the years in being able to consolidate and maintain his power. The trends Yemen are not good, this could be a major problem and where terror is concerned, this would be a safe haven that would be a very troubling turn of events of us,” said Jones.
Amanpour asked if the U.S. should try to keep Saleh in power.
“There are certain things that we can do and that we can’t do,” he said.
“When events reach a certain stage, they have a life of their own,” Jones explained. “It would be nice to be able to think that we could do everything and make the world perfect the way we want it, but that’s not the case.”
Prior to serving in the Obama administration, Jones served as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and was the Commandant of the Marine Corps. He left the White House last fall.
Last Sunday on “This Week,” Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was asked how dangerous a post-Saleh Yemen would be.
“I think it is a real concern because the most active and, at this point, perhaps the most aggressive branch of al Qaeda — al Qaeda and the Arabian Peninsula — operates out of Yemen,” he said.
“And we have had a lot of counterterrorism cooperation from President Saleh and Yemeni Security Services,” Gates said.
“So if that government collapses or is replaced by one that is dramatically more weak, then I think we'll face some additional challenges out of Yemen. There's no question about it. It's a real problem,” Gates said last Sunday.