Yemen Minister: Foreign military action counter-productive
Yemen’s Minister of Endowment, Hamoud Al-Hitar said that Yemen will not be another Afghanistan or a shelter for terrorists warning that “an external intervention will only unify Yemenis against any military action from outside.”
He accused Arab and international media as well as Yemeni press of exaggerating the size and influence of Al-Qaeda in Yemen, stating that in reality, “the situation is under control.”
In an interview with the Saudi funded, London based Al-Sharq Al-Wasat newspaper, on Nov. 20, Al-Hitar belittled Al-Qaeda and extremism in Yemen. The minister said that Yemen could handle its own affairs without the need of external intervention.
“Extremism does not exceed ten percent of what is reported in the media. Yemen is being subjected to an unfair media campaign,” he said.
Yemen has made headlines twice since the end of 2009. The first time followed the Detroit flight bomb attempt on December 25, 2009 by a Nigerian student who studied in Yemen. Most recently the explosive packages plot on October 29 brought Al-Qaeda in Yemen back into the headlines when two parcels, sent to the US, were traced back to Yemen.
“The explosive packages have crossed more than one airport and Farouq Abdul Mutaleb crossed more than four airports, but why this much focusing on Yemen,” he said maintaining that the focus on Yemen alone is unfair.
The minister said that Yemen has an experience in combating extremism through dialogue, referring to a 2006 initiative by the Yemeni government to rehabilitate former Jihadis returning from Afganistan and other countries through dialogue.
He said that many radicals in Yemen received their education abroad and that the roots of terrorism are not from Yemen, but from Afghanistan.
“Extremism is a foreigner to Yemen, which was known for centuries as a tolerant country nurturing a multi-religion and multi-sect society until recently,” he said.
To counter the recent intolerant trends Yemen has prepared a campaign to counter radicalization. The campaign focuses on four areas including rational dialogue to uproot extremism, security measures to control crime before it happens and bringing perpetrators to justice, economic measures to prevent money transfer to terrorist operations, and cooperating internationally and regionally against terrorism.
The minister accused foreign entities - without identifying them - of portraying Yemen as a terrorist country to gain political interests.
“If we count terrorism victims in Yemen in the last decade, they will not reach three percent of the victims in the 9/11 attack,” Al-Hitar said “So why all the fuss about terrorism in Yemen.”