Focus on Yemen


The global war on terror began a year before September 2001, when a speedboat with militants and half a tonne of explosives rammed an American destroyer anchored in the Yemeni port of Aden. Seventeen US Navy sailors died.

Nearly a decade later, Yemen is again the front line in a conflict that President Obama refuses to call a war but one that has changed little since his predecessor rallied the American nation with a security doctrine that he summarised in two words: “Let’s roll.”

Yemeni officials announced yesterday that security forces had stormed an al-Qaeda hideout and arrested militants north of Bajil in the impoverished country’s western Deir Jaber region.

It was the latest assault in a proxy war being fought by the fragile Yemeni Government with the quiet but rapidly increasing support of US trainers, intelligence and military hardware. Last year the Pentagon gave Yemen less than $5 million (£3 million) in military aid. This year, after a visit by General David Petraeus, the head of Central Command who is also overseeing the war against the Taleban in Afghanistan, it has given the Yemeni Government $67 million.

... A letter to Mr Obama, which was published yesterday from three senators — John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham — underscored the fears. They requested an immediate halt to the transfer to their homeland of Yemeni Guantánamo Bay detainees, two of whom lead the reinvigorated terror cell al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).


The Obama administration remains intransigent on the closing of Gitmo as if the attacks are caused by the existence of the facility and not the religious bigotry that is the root cause of al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist attacks. Obama seems determined to make a bad move on sending reinforcements to al Qaeda in Yemen at a time when we should be sending Hellfire missiles.


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