U.S. admits military involvement in striking al-Qaida in Yemen, embarrassing Yemen gov't
The report that the U.S. military was behind a secret air raid against alleged al-Qaida target in Yemen on May 24 by The New York Times will pose an embarrassment to the Yemeni government's efforts of denying any U.S. involvement in that process, a spokesman of the Yemeni Foreign Ministry said Sunday, Xinhua reported.
The New York Times reported late Saturday that the U.S. military conducted on May 24 a secret air raid on alleged al-Qaida group in Marib, northeast of the capital Sanaa, which killed the deputy provincial governor of Marib Jabir Ali al-Shabwany.
"The strike, though, was not the work of Mr. Saleh's decrepit Soviet-era air force," said the New York Times, referring to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The newspaper added that "the strike was a secret mission by the United States military, according to American officials, at least the fourth such assault on al-Qaida in the arid mountains and deserts of Yemen since December."
The spokesman of the Yemeni Foreign Ministry told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that the report of The New York Times will put the Yemeni government under high pressure from the Shabwany's angry tribe.
"The Yemeni government has been exerting continuous efforts to deny any military involvement by the United States in all secret operations against al-Qaida group in Yemen," said the spokesman.
"And by which efforts, President Ali Abdullah Saleh managed to convince the angry tribe and paid blood money for the mistakenly killing one of its elite," he added.
He said the powerful armed kinsmen were firstly refused to accept the blood money because they accused the United States of being behind the attack and threatened to take revenge by attacking the U.S. interests inside Yemen.
"Now we can say that the United States must hold responsibility for what has been reported by The New York Times," the Yemeni spokesman said.
"Such reports just pose embarrassment to the Yemeni government' s efforts of denying any U.S. involvement inside Yemen, in a bid to keep the U.S. away from any future troubles," he added.
On May 24, a U.S. unmanned drone fired a missile on an alleged al-Qaida meeting in Wadi Abieda area in Marib province, a provincial official told Xinhua, adding "the missile, however, killed the deputy governor of Marib Jabir Ali al-Shabwany by mistake, who also served as a councilman, along with his four bodyguards."
According to the local official, the air strike sparked a huge anger among the kinsmen against the government and led to the attacks by the armed tribesmen on the oil establishments in revenge of what they said a unmanned U.S. strike.
Moreover, Amnesty International issued on June 7 some photographs that displayed remnants of alleged U.S. cluster bombs and missiles fired at southern Yemen from alleged U.S. warships in the Gulf of Aden last December.
The watchdog's photographs apparently were taken following an air strike on Dec. 17, 2009, on a suspected al-Qaida training camp in al-Ma'jalah in the province of Abyan in Yemen's south that killed 41 local residents, including 14 women and 21 children.
The Yemeni government, however, insisted that its forces launched the raid on an al-Qaida's camp of Abyan alone.
Yemen's neighboring top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and the United States paid more attention to the country's security affairs after the Yemen-based al-Qaida wing boasted that it was behind a failed attempt to destroy a U.S. passenger plane bound for Detroit in December, 2009.