Written By: Shuaib M. al-Mosawa
Article Date: Oct 6, 2010 - 2:52:02 PM
General Yahya M. Abdullah Saleh, director of the counterterrorism unit, said Yemen should welcome US airstrikes if needed to fight al-Qaeda.
Saleh, in an exclusive interview with CNN, admitted that the US has been involved in airstrikes in Yemen in the past and that Yemen should be open about the kind of assistance it requires in the fight to root al-Qaeda out of Yemen.
“There are times when we need support in the field of counterterrorism,” Saleh said, pointing out that Yemen’s ability to fight al-Qaeda is limited in certain areas. “So why not get assistance from others?”
Saleh assured that US air strikes ended in December but that Yemen should be open to additional airstrikes.
“…if we need it[air strikes assistance] in the future, then why not?”
The US administration and Yemeni government have been cautious about announcing coordinated air strikes for fear of generating anti-American sentiments among Yemenis.
In a statement to al-Hayat newspaper last week, the Foreign Minister Of Yemen, Dr. Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, said that the US had carried out airstrikes in Yemen but they ended in December because they did not achieve results.
Political advisor to Yemen’s President, Abdul-Kareem al-Eryani, said in an interview with the Public Broadcasting Service TV (PBS) in late July that drones sometimes bomb civilians, and al-Qaeda make use of that for recruiting new members.
Al-Eryani advised that drones should be used only when there is sufficient information and coordination with Yemeni authorities to avoid mistakes and civilian casualties.
Amnesty International released photographs in June that allegedly showed parts of US missiles and cluster munitions at the site of a strike last December in the area of al Ma’ajalah, Abyan province, where an al-Qaeda camp was believed to be.
The Yemeni government claimed responsibility for an attack in al-Ma’ajalah that killed about 50 civilians, including 14 alleged al-Qaeda members.
US officials, speaking to the New York Times on condition of anonymity, also revealed that US drones attacked a group of al-Qaeda members in the eastern province of Marib. The attack, carried out in May, also killed Secretary General of the Marib local council, Sheikh Jaber al-Shabwani, who was killed while negotiating, upon government request, with a group of al-Qaeda members.
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