Yemen and the war on terror [Archives:2003/673/Opinion]

October 2 2003

Hassan Al-Zaidi
Following the September 11, 2001 attacks and after threats made by a group calling itself, the al-Qaeda sympathizers, showing their support for detainees and to use violence unless there is an immediate release of the detainees, the authority had intended to use several methods on its war against terror.
Among them were some procedures that have been taken:
– Total dependence on intelligence information, monitoring as well as inspecting the movements of al-Qaeda suspects.
– Counting mosques and other religious institutes where those suspects receive learning and religious teachings and taking control the mosques' platforms where they might be taken as places for instigation.
– Canceling religious institutes affiliated to the ministry of the education which, are believed to be places for terror resources.
But the authorities haven't found themselves safe from performing any new terror operations due to their inability to take a total control over terrorist elements scattered all over Yemen.
The geographical nature of the country has helped lots of terror elements to move freely and the only thing that has been adopted is to make dialogues with those elements. As one of its means to fight terror, a dialogue committee composed of several eminent religious scholars was set up in order to convince youths to discard extremist ideas. The aim was to achieve what is necessary and for avoiding any confrontations or reactions that might erupt between the authorities and those elements as a result of continuation of those elements where they believe that the war against terror has been done just to meet to US demands.
Around 35 of those elements have been convinced to discard their extremist ideas in the mid of August. They committed themselves not to resort to violence or commit terrorist acts and as a result they were set free.
After the explosion of the USS Cole destroyer in October 2000 at Aden harbor, the Yemeni-US relations had somewhat become strained to track down the perpetrators.
Purging terror elements was the major focus between Yemen and the United States during the visit to America by President Ali Abdulla Saleh. The two sides had also discussed other aspects of relations such as, information, culture and education.
Cooperation in aftermath of Sept 11
Yemen has strongly denounced the September 11 attacks that took place in the US and also has declared its war on terrorism. Cooperation in tracking down those elements and detain them has continued. The cooperation manifests itself clearly through training and qualifying the Yemeni Special Forces, which have been later entrusted with tracking down terror cells. They are also entrusted with monitoring the sea routes and sea inlets for fear that those elements that penetrate into the country from the Horn of Africa.
One of the results of that cooperation was killing al-Harethi one of the al-Qaeda leaders by the US. The Yemeni-US cooperation is not restricted to fighting terror; other cooperation fields also were included such as security, economy, education, and development.
The US Ambassador to Yemen, Mr. Edmund Hull put an emphasis during a symposium held at the Yemen Times premises, on that security and development are both integral parts. Other areas are in need for social development in order to prevent terrorists from seeking refuge at those areas or they would become a fertile safe haven for them.
In this regard, Yemen was granted $one billion loans in December from the World Bank in order to support Yemen in its security matters and provide social development services on its war against terror.
Yemen also got a financial grant estimated at USD130 million to support Yemen's capabilities to overcome its security and development problems. In 2003, the US granted around USD7 million to support and furniture the President's Hospital in Marib, a health center, and erecting a hospital in Jehanah.
The latter is one of the most notorious places for selling arms in Yemen. Other development projects have been adopted by the US estimated at USD15 million according to the US Ambassador Edmund Hull's declaration.