Yemen Upheaval Making Way for al Qaeda Haven

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The sudden departure of U.S.-allied Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has left Yemen in disarray, bad news for the war on terror.

Saleh left the country after being seriously injured in an attack on his palace, leaving a dangerous power vacuum in a country where terrorists could gain ground against America.
 
Yemeni officials said Monday that Saleh underwent successful surgery following Friday's rocket attack on his compound.

On Sunday, protesters danced and sang in the central square of Yemen's capital  to celebrate what they hoped would be Saleh's permanent exit after nearly 33 years in power.

For months, a violent power struggle has been underway in the country. The president's absence escalates that showdown.

Yemen's powerful tribes, al Qaeda and a youth movement, have all been fighting to remove Saleh and remnants of his regime. Street battles between the sides have pushed the more than three-month political crisis to the brink of civil war.

Al Qaeda is taking advantage of the chaos, hoping to turn the country into a new safe haven.

Yemen is home to U.S.-born Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, al Qaeda's top recruiter. Al-Awlaki is credited with training the Christmas Day bomber and inspiring the Fort Hood shooter, among others, to carry out attacks on Americans.

Saleh's nephew, heads the counter-terrorism efforts in the country, said he is concerned about the al Qaeda situation there.

"It has gotten worse, maybe more, who sympathize with al Qaeda," Gen. Yahya Saleh said.

Meanwhile, the latest upheaval is of great concern to the U.S. government, which has relied on President Saleh in its battle against the Islamist terror group.

CBN News Terrorism Analyst Erick Stakelbeck gives more insight on Anwar al-Awlaki and his influence with al Qaeda in Yemen.

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Charlene  Aaron

Charlene Aaron

CBN News Reporter

Charlene Aaron serves as a general assignment reporter and helps anchor for the CBN News Channel.  Follow her on Twitter @CharNews and "like" her at Facebook.com/CharleneIsraelCBNNews.