Yemen’s president boosts security

Yemen’s president met a top US general on Saturday to discuss boosting military cooperation, after President Barack Obama tied al-Qaeda’s regional arm to the Christmas Day attempt to blow up a US passenger jet.

Yemen also said it was tightening security along its coastline to prevent Islamist militants infiltrating from Somalia. However, a local Shi’ite rebel group said it was ready to talk peace with President Ali Abdullah Saleh once fighting in its conflict with the Sanaa government had stopped.

US General David Petraeus met Saleh for talks focusing on strengthening security, military and economic cooperation, an official said. Petraeus, who heads the US Central Command, also handed over a letter from Obama.

Details of the letter were not released but on Friday Obama said al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen, appeared to have trained, equipped and directed the Nigerian who tried to bomb the flight heading for the US city of Detroit.

Petraeus has said Washington would more than double its $70-million security assistance to Yemen.

The United States and neighbouring Saudi Arabia fear al-Qaeda could exploit instability across Yemen, which also faces separatist sentiment in the mainly Sunni Muslim south, to turn the country into a launchpad for more international attacks.

US officials have said they were looking at ways to expand military and intelligence cooperation with Yemen, the poorest Arab state, to root out al-Qaeda leadership in the country.

Washington has increased training, intelligence and military equipment provided to Yemeni forces, helping them to stage raids against suspected al-Qaeda hideouts last month.

Coastal security
Yemen has tightened security measures on its coastline, boosting monitoring and inspections, to prevent militants from Somalia from entering the country, the state news agency said.

“Yemen will not tolerate any terrorist elements on its territories and will be ready to retaliate against anyone looking to tamper with its security and stability,” Foreign Minister Abubakr al-Qirbi told Saba News.


Somalia’s hardline Islamist rebel group al-Shabaab said on Friday it was ready to send reinforcements to al-Qaeda in Yemen should the US carry out retaliatory strikes, and urged other Muslims to follow suit.

However, Yemen’s Shi’ite rebels responded positively on Saturday to a plea from Saleh, saying they were ready for talks with the government once fighting stops.

“We welcome the call by the president of the republic to return to dialogue, and consider it a positive call and a right step to peace and a return to security and stability,” Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, leader of the northern Yemen-based rebels, said in a statement carried on a rebel website.

“We confront aggression and defend ourselves, and when the war stops, we are ready for dialogue,” he added. He also denied that his group was targeting neighbouring Saudi Arabia, which has been drawn into the conflict.

There was no immediate response from the Yemeni government.

Saleh, in a New Year plea, had offered to extend a hand of peace if the Shi’ite rebels fulfilledc onditions such as abandoning violence, freeing prisoners and agreeing to stop attacks on Saudi territory.

The Yemeni president, writing in the state’s al-Thawra newspaper, called on the northern rebels and southern separatists on Friday to abandon violence and urged anyone tempted by al-Qaeda to reconsider.

“The time has come to lay down your weapons, to steer clear of the violence and the terror and evil acts so as to save your souls and be good citizens in your society,” Saleh said.

Northern Shi’ite rebels from the Zaidi sect have been fighting government troops in Yemen’s mountainous north since 2004, complaining of marginalisation. The conflict has killed hundreds and displaced tens of thousands.

In the south, Yemen has also clashed with separatist protesters seeking independence for southern Yemen, which unified with its northern neighbour in 1990 and failed to secede in a 1994 war. – Reuters

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertising

Two dead in new ANC KwaZulu-Natal killings

A Mtubatuba councillor and a Hammarsdale ANC Youth League leader were shot yesterday near their homes

Inside Facebook’s big bet on Africa

New undersea cables will massively increase bandwidth to the continent

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Engineering slips out of gear at varsity

Walter Sisulu University wants to reprioritise R178-million that it stands to give back to treasury after failing to spend it
Advertising

Press Releases

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations