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Yemen rejects US intervention

[ 2010-01-08 14:02]     字号 [] [] []  
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Yemen, hunting Al-Qaida within its borders, believes its own security forces must fight militants on its territory and rejects any direct US intervention, the foreign minister said.

Yemen, the poorest Arab country, was thrust into the foreground of the US-led war against Islamist militants after a Yemen-based wing of Al-Qaida said it was behind a Christmas Day attempt to blow up a US-bound plane.

Asked by CNN whether Yemen would accept direct US intervention, Foreign Minister Abubakr al-Qirbi said: "No, I don't think we will accept that. I think the US, as well, have learned from Afghanistan and Iraq and other places that direct intervention can be self-defeating.

"We think this is the priority and the responsibility of our security forces and the army," Qirbi told the US news channel.

Yemeni authorities launched an operation this week to root out Al-Qaida militants who they said were behind threats that forced Western embassies to close.

The raid, which killed two militants, allayed US concerns, allowing its heavily fortified mission to reopen.

"What we need from the United States and other partners is to build our capability to provide us with the technical know-how, with the equipment, with the intelligence information and with the firepower," Qirbi said.

Yemen has sent troops to take part in a campaign against Al-Qaida in three provinces over the past four days. One security source said forces had set up extra checkpoints on main roads.

Yemeni forces surrounded a suspected Al-Qaida regional leader near the capital on Wednesday, and have captured eight rank-and-file Al-Qaida militants in recent days, including three wounded in Monday's raid, security sources said.

The West and Saudi Arabia fear Al-Qaida will take advantage of Yemen's instability to spread its operations to the neighbouring kingdom, the world's biggest oil exporter, and beyond. Yemen is a small oil producer.

Yemen, with shrinking oil reserves, a water crisis and fast-growing population, has stepped up security on its coast to block militants from reaching its shores from Somalia. Qirbi said there were about 200 to 300 Al-Qaida operatives in Yemen.

"How many of them are going to entertain terrorist attacks is something that is obviously of concern to us. This is why we always stress the importance of cooperation with United States and other countries in the region," he said.

Yemeni officials acknowledge the need for US help with counter-terrorism, but say the government also lacks resources to tackle the poverty that widens Al-Qaida's recruiting pool.

Defense and counter-terrorism officials say Washington has been quietly supplying military equipment, intelligence and training to Yemen to root out suspected Al-Qaida hide-outs.

Civil war and lawlessness have turned Yemen into an alternative base for Al-Qaida, which US officials say has been largely pushed out of Afghanistan and is under military pressure from the Pakistani army in bordering tribal areas.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Yemen rejects US intervention

About the broadcaster:

Yemen rejects US intervention

Lee Hannon is Chief Editor at China Daily with 15-years experience in print and broadcast journalism. Born in England, Lee has traveled extensively around the world as a journalist including four years as a senior editor in Los Angeles. He now lives in Beijing and is happy to move to China and join the China Daily team.