U.S. Troops to Train Yemeni Forces To Fight Terror; Yemeni President Pledges to Strike Terrorists
Yemen said on Friday U.S. troops were going to train Yemeni forces hunting supporters of Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network.
The confirmation by a senior Yemeni official came after the Wall Street Journal said the White House had approved a mission to send hundreds of troops to train and advise Yemeni forces.
"In the framework of cooperation between Yemen and the United States, U.S. forces will arrive gradually to hold training courses," the official told Reuters. The official did not say when the troops would be in Yemen.
The Wall Street Journal cited a senior U.S. military official as saying the mission would be similar to the U.S. military effort in the Philippines, where more than 600 American soldiers are involved in anti-terror exercises with local forces.
In the meantime, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said Thursday his country would not tolerate any form of terrorism on its territory and would strike offenders with an “iron fist.''
During a visit in eastern Yemen, he also stated that two suspects wanted by the United States in the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen must turn themselves in. “They are innocent until proven guilty and they will be questioned and a court of law will issue its decision,'' Saleh commented.
He said the two men — Qaed Salim Sunian al-Harethi and Mohammed Hamdi al-Ahdal — will not be extradited to the United States, adding his country has asked Washington to hand over the Yemenis being held by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In this context, the Abnaa al-Yemen (Yemen's People) League party has called on the Yemeni political leadership to pursue the principle of clarity and transparency concerning the level of security cooperation with American forces to fight terrorism.
The party said that it is Yemen's right to cooperate or to seek the help of the US "temporarily" to fight terrorism. It considered that this matter is a legitimate right, but it, on the other hand, stressed the need that this should be made according to the texts of the constitution.
Meanwhile, the US administration envoy for the Middle East Gen. Anthony Zinni will arrive in Yemen on Saturday in a bid to prepare the expected visit of US Vice President Dick Cheney in about two weeks. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)