Sunday, January 3, 2010

US extends war on terror on Yemen

Washington DC, 2 January – In a bid to give US military intervention in Yemen legitimacy, US President Barack Obama for the first time publicly linked an obscure airline incident on Christmas Day to the world-wide al-Qaeda network against which the US is leading the ongoing war on terror. In his weekly radio and TV address, the US President claimed that the incident involving a young Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was proof that “al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” was responsible for attempting to blow up an aircraft of the US Northwest airlines on its flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. Barack Obama concluded that the United States was at war with a "far-reaching network of violence and hatred." The impact of the 23-years old student Abdulmatallab rose to enormous proportions by Barack Obama's revelations that "we know that he traveled to Yemen, a country grappling with crushing poverty and deadly insurgencies. It appears that he joined an affiliate of al-Qaeda, and that this group, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, trained and equipped him with those explosives and directed him to attack that plane headed for America."

In this context the US President for the first time acknowledged US military attacks against targets on Yemeni territory saying that alleged al-Qaeda "training camps have been struck; leaders eliminated; plots disrupted," adding that “all those involved in the attempted act of terrorism on Christmas must know – you too will be held accountable." Against the backdrop of an announced boost in US military aid to Yemen's government to the tune of 70 million dollars, yesterday British prime minister Gordon Brown called for an international meeting, to be held on 28 January in London, aimed at coordinating the leading NATO powers' battle to consolidate their position in the Horn of Africa.

The government in Sanaa – endangered by a mounting separatist movement in the south and the contemporaneous war against the al-Houthi movement in the north - welcomed the initiative as“a step in the right direction”. Meanwhile today Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh met again with the head of US Central Command, General David Petraeus to discuss the range and scope of Yemeni security forces' cooperation, with US training, intelligence and equipment provided to them.

This latest development comes after only a few days ago, on Tuesday, a member of parliament from the opposition, Shawqi al-Qadhi, had warned that if the US insisted on sending its troops to Yemen, the whole of the country would turn into al-Qaeda. Al-Qadhi also warned that an enhanced presence of US troops in Yemen would only incite al-Qaeda operatives to increase violence. A taste of what the already instable Yemeni government might be up to came after an air strike in December, carried out by Yemeni forces with the admitted help of “US fire power”, that left dozens dead: an unmasked man, standing amidst protesting tribesman of the camp that had been targeted, warned that “the war in Yemen is between Al-Qaeda and the US and not between Al-Qaeda and the Yemeni army”. Concerns are growing that the same fate as that of Afghanistan and Iraq, where citizens are suffering violence despite years of foreign military presence, might await Yemen's Muslim nation.

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