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US eager to send foreign aid to Yemen, a land battling poverty and Al Qaeda

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But Yemen, with its weak government institutions and entrenched corruption, has a history of struggling to effectively absorb aid. Providing too much aid too fast can have devastating consequences, as the West’s 10-year experience in Afghanistan has demonstrated.

So while international players, from the US to the International Monetary Fund, are eager to send assistance, Yemeni politicians are cautioning against creating too much dependency on outside aid – outlining instead a vision of foreign investment.

“Yemen does not need to live on handouts,” says Mohammad Abulahoum, leader of the Justice and Building Party and a prominent Yemeni politician. “If we become a welfare state, we will become a failed state. … Provide Yemen with aid, but then increase investment in the country.”

Of $5.5 billion pledged, only 7 percent spent

The International Monetary Fund has already indicated a willingness to discuss new aid programs in Yemen now that former leader Ali Abdullah Saleh has been removed and the situation is calmer. Other foreign donors are likely to follow suit if Yemen can maintain some degree of stability.

Calculating the level of aid a country can handle predictably varies from place to place, but there are some general indicators for whether aid will succeed.

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