By Jamie Crawford
The United States will provide Yemen with the largest amount of U.S. government assistance to date for both the civilian and security sectors,the State Department announced Tuesday.
The Obama administration will provide $337 million in assistance in the 2012 fiscal year, up from $147 million provided in the previous fiscal year, the State Department said in a news release.
The United States has an interest in ensuring stability in Yemen, which is one of the poorest countries in the Arab world and one where a democratic transition is still under way. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the organization's most lethal affiliate, is based in the southern portion of the country.
The government of President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi has itself been the target of al Qaeda-linked militants in recent months. In May, a suicide bomb blamed on AQAP killed more than 100 government troops.
U.S. officials consider the Yemeni arm of al Qaeda to be the most active in plotting attacks against the United States. In May, the United States and other countries worked together to foil an attempt to blow up a U.S.-bound flight.
Former President Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced from office in February after widespread protests against his 32-year rule.
Hadi, who was serving as Saleh's vice president, took power in a succession plan brokered by the United States and regional allies.
In the new assistance package, the State Department will provide roughly $47 million in security assistance. The Pentagon will provide an additional $112 million to train and equip the Yemeni security forces to conduct counterterrorism operations.
On the civilian side, the United States will provide $178 million for humanitarian aid, development and assistance to help Yemen transition to democracy.
Yemen is home to nearly 550,000 internally displaced persons, more than 225,000 refugees, and 140,000 migrants and asylum seekers, the State Department said in a news release.
As part of the deal that saw Saleh leave power, Yemen is undergoing constitutional and electoral change intended to lead to democratic elections by early 2014.
"We will continue to monitor carefully all U.S. assistance to ensure it serves its intended purpose and to guard against human rights abuses by preventing persons or groups who have committed human rights violations from receiving U.S. funding," the release said.