The US is set to hold talks with European and Arab partners in London on Jan. 27 to build support for a drive to defeat the perceived growing al-Qaeda threat in Yemen. The impetus for the meeting comes from the failed Christmas Day jetliner bombing by a Nigerian passenger allegedly trained by the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Hillary Clinton will likely attend the London meeting, which comes days after the United Kingdom raised its terrorism threat assessment from substantial to severe.
The US hopes donors will speed up aid previously pledged to Yemen, a country some analysts call a “failing state”. However, persuading donors to deliver on all of the $4.7 billion pledged at a London conference in 2006 apparently depends on Yemen carrying out the reforms needed to assure that the funds will be spent properly.
Clinton spoke of a “common threat” from extremists when she appeared in Washington last week with Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Kurbi. “We have seen al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula kill tourists in Yemen, Yemeni security officers, and being involved in the training and equipping of the perpetrator on the attempted Christmas Day airline bombing,” she told reporters. (AFP, Jan. 25)
Meanwhile, Yemeni officials are saying that al-Qaeda militants, not separatists, attacked a checkpoint and killed three soldiers on Jan. 24. “The security apparatus believes al-Qaeda was behind the killing of the three soldiers yesterday,” an official told Reuters. “Five tribal leaders in Shabwa are negotiating with al-Qaeda members to give themselves up,” he said, referring to local sheikhs mediating between the government and Islamist militants in the area.
A government official had previously said southern separatists carried out the raid in Shabwa, home to the US-Yemeni Internet preacher Anwar al-Awlaki and a focal point in Yemen’s crackdown on a resurgent al-Qaeda network. (Reuters, Jan. 25)