Bush Praises Yemen’s role in combating terrorism [Archives:2007/1097/Front Page]
By: Amel Al-Ariqi
SANA'A, Oct 24 ) US President George W. Bush praised Yemen for its success in the field of combating terrorism.
This came in a message to President Ali Abdullah Saleh conveyed by the assistant to President Bush for Internal Security and Combating Terrorism Affairs, Francis Townsend.
In his message, President Bush confirmed his country's support for Yemen in development, education, military, security, and fighting against terrorism.
Townsend's visit to Yemen, which began on Monday, comes following a similar visit to Saudi Arabia, where she conveyed a message to King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz from the President Bush. The American official left Yemen on Tuesday.
In related news, General Staff of the Central Security Forces Mohammed Saleh held a meeting in Sana'a on Tuesday with a number of security representatives from the United States of America, United Kingdom and a number of African countries over issues related to cooperation among these countries in combating terrorism.
During the meeting, Saleh said Yemen is ready to provide assistance and expertise in this area in the light of agreements and protocols signed in this field.
The meeting came after a week fugitive Al-Qaeda suspect Jamal al-Badawi, who was convicted of bombing the USS Cole in Yemen that killed 17 American sailors, has surrendered himself to Yemen's authorities.
According to AFP, Badawi, who featured on a US list of most-wanted terrorists with a five-million-dollar bounty on his head, had been allowed to return to his home in the southern port city of Aden in return for a pledge not to engage in any violent or Al-Qaeda-related activity.
The American Embassy in Sana'a has not commented on this news yet.
Badawi was sentenced to death in September 2004 for the 2000 bombing of the US Navy destroyer Cole off Aden, which was claimed by Al-Qaeda, but an appeals court later commuted the sentence to 15 years in jail.
Badawi was among 23-suspected Al-Qaeda militants who escaped from a prison in the Yemeni capital in February 2006.
Two escapees remain at large. The others have either given themselves up or were arrested or killed by security forces.
The beginning of the terrorism combating cooperation between U.S and Yemen came when Cole was attacked in October 2000. The United States administration started the security cooperation with the Yemeni government to apprehend those who were involved in the Cole attack and to establish their links with Al-Qaeda.
However, that cooperation did not extend to include support for security apparatuses and development of their capabilities. The situation continued in this manner until 11th of September 2001, when Yemen became ” U.S partner to fight terrorism”.
Since that time, the U.S. declared that it would start to cooperate with Yemen on military and counter terrorism issues and simultaneously to assist Yemen in improving its governance capabilities and its efforts of economic reform.
Analysts say Yemen's success in fighting against terrorism depend getting foreign support to develop the rule of law, economic development, civil service reform, education, and health care.
Experts are worried that Yemen will remain subjected to state failure due to economic weakness unless it undertakes significant changes.
U.S.-Yemeni cooperation includes counter terrorism training for Yemeni military forces, enhancing the role of the coast guard authorities and the provision of equipment and training for Yemen's Terrorist Interdiction Program.