Yemen and Somalia face parallel challenges: insurgencies, terrorism, economic hardship, and ineffective governments that are perceived to lack legitimacy.
Western engagement in Yemen and Somalia is based on a state-building framework involving diplomacy, development and defence. Yet the priority attached to security-sector interventions undermines the balance of political and economic actions needed for this approach to succeed.
There is a growing tendency among the Western policy community to amalgamate the risk emanating from Yemen and Somalia, on the basis that al-Qaeda affiliates in both countries are recruiting Western citizens, and have the potential to work more closely together.
Both AQAP and al-Shabaab have developed successful narratives around injustice that are not being addressed by existing Western interventions.
On the contrary, Western policies are contributing to a sense among some Yemenis and Somalis of being 'under attack' and are drawing them towards radicalization and militancy.
The threat of radicalization extends throughout the far-flung diasporas of Somalia and Yemen, defying efforts at containment within the two countries and requiring new thinking about stemming the appeal of radicalism at source.
Conventional counter-terrorism and counter-piracy strategies are hindered by the existence of multi-million-dollar shadow business networks spanning the Gulf of Aden.