U.S. Widens Terror War to Yemen, a Qaeda Bastion
Yemeni protesters staged a demonstration in the southern part of the country on Thursday after a raid against Qaeda militants.
A year ago, the Central Intelligence Agency sent several of its top field operatives with counterterrorism experience to the country, according a former top agency official. At the same time, some of the most secretive Special Operations commandos have begun training Yemeni security forces in counterterrorism tactics, senior military officers said.
The Pentagon is spending more than $70 million over the next 18 months, and using teams of Special Forces, to train and equip Yemeni military, Interior Ministry and coast guard forces, more than doubling previous military aid levels.
The country has long been a refuge for jihadists, in part because Yemen’s government welcomed returning Islamist fighters who had fought in Afghanistan during the 1980s. The Yemen port of Aden was the site of the audacious bombing of the American destroyer Cole in October 2000 by Qaeda militants, which killed 17 sailors.
Qaeda militants have made much more focused efforts to build a base in Yemen in recent years, drawing recruits from throughout the region and mounting attacks more frequently on foreign embassies and other targets. The White House is seeking to nurture enduring ties with the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh and prod him to combat the local Qaeda affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, even as his impoverished country grapples with seemingly intractable internal turmoil.
“Yemen now becomes one of the centers of that fight,” said Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut and chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, who visited the country in August. “We have a growing presence there, and we have to, of Special Operations, Green Berets, intelligence,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“Yemen’s security problems won’t just stay in Yemen,” said Christopher Boucek, who studies Yemen as an associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. “They’re regional problems and they affect Western interests.”
The United States believes that Yemen is becoming Al Qaeda's next operational training hub, rivaling the tribal areas of Pakistan where Al Qaeda leaders have been operating. Saudi Arabia is similarly concerned given the resurgent Islamist extremism in nearby Somalia and East Africa.rganization’s top leaders operate.
Although the most important intelligence has come came from the United States and Saudi Arabia, other countries in the region have increased their financial assistance to help Yemen. There is a pervasive fear both inside and outside Yemen that Al Qaeda is staking new ground, establishing training centers,and making some parts of Yemen no-go areas. The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait are providing assistance because they believe they will be targeted in the future.
This is an expansion of the Yemen story and updates found in
Yemen and Updates by snuffysmith | December 20, 2009 at 09:21 am[q url="http://my.nowpublic.com/world/yemen-and-updates"]