Yemen rejects U.S. role in fighting al-Qaida
Yemeni government reaffirmed on Thursday that combating terrorism in the country remains the responsibility of its security services alone, responding to the report that the United States may step up air raids on the regional al-Qaida wing in Yemen, the state media reported.
The response came following the Washington Post's report that U.S. officials said al-Qaida in Yemen was the most urgent threat in the region and vowed to step up attacks on the group, according to the official Saba news agency.
"Yemeni forces, with the support of our friends and brothers, are capable of holding their full responsibilities for eliminating al-Qaida elements and its backers," Saba quoted the government spokesman as saying, Xinhua reported.
The government also denied some reports by western media that exaggerated the scale of al-Qaida and its threats on the stability, security and foreign interests in Yemen, Saba said.
Last week, a Yemeni Foreign Ministry spokesman said a report that the U.S. military was behind a secret air raid against alleged al-Qaida target in Yemen would embarrass Yemeni government efforts of denying any U.S. involvement in such processes.
The New York Times reported on Aug. 14 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, killing 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 ministry's spokesman told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that "the Yemeni government has been exerting continuous efforts to deny any military involvement by the U.S in all secret operations against al-Qaida group in Yemen.
"Now we can say that the U.S. must hold responsibility for what has been reported by The New York Times," the spokesman said.
Moreover, Amnesty International released 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 south Yemen's Abyan province, killing 41 local residents, including 14 women and 21 children. The Yemeni government, however, insisted that its forces launched the raid alone.
Neighboring top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and the U.S. paid more attention to Yemen'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 last year.