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Yemen wants to talk to al Qaeda!

Interesting Article: "Yemen offers dialogue with al Qaeda" by Hakim Almasmari / Sanaa published Sunday, February 5th, 2012

An interesting article mentioned that Yemen's highest military authority Sunday announced its willingness to open channels of dialogue with al Qaeda in hopes of reaching a long-term cease-fire agreement. The military committee was formed as part of the power transfer deal in November. Spokesman Ali Saeed Obaid told CNN that the new Yemeni military leadership is opening its hands and will seek new solutions with al Qaeda fighters. Al Qaeda currently controls large areas in the southern Abyan and Shabwa provinces of Yemen. The committee is hoping that al Qaeda lays down its arms and participates in seeking change democratically, like the millions in Yemen," Obaid said, adding that al Qaeda would in return handover all territories under its control to the military and evacuate government posts. Al Qaeda has not yet responded to the offer, the committee said. Would you like to know more?


Yemen's government is in the midst of a transfer of power in which President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a longtime United States ally in the war on terrorism, has agreed to step down after more than 33 years of rule. Islamist militants seized control of Abyan last May after government positions were suddenly emptied. The province was announced an Islamic emirate a week later, resulting in hundreds of fighters joining their lines. More than 100,000 residents of Abyan evacuated the province when clashes intensified last July. They are currently living in shelters in the neighboring provinces of Aden and Lahj.

Last month, a committee formed by Hadi persuaded al Qaeda fighters in Radda, in the nearby province of al-Baitha, to evacuate the area two weeks after they took it over. Suspected al Qaeda fighters left the town after five days of tense negotiations in exchange for the release of three prisoners, Hadi's office said at the time. The committee admits that Al Qaeda is in control of areas of Abyan and Shabwa provinces. Islamist militants seized control of Abyan last May after government forces evacuated nearly all of its bases and stations there. Despite the prospect of talks, government officials told The National last week that Yemen would by relying increasingly on US drone strikes to target Islamist militants, who they fear could try to take further territory in the run-up to the election.

In addition to the talks, thousands of pilots, mechanics and intelligence officers from Yemen's air force marched through the capital on Saturday and Sunday to demand the ouster of their commander, President Ali Abdullah Saleh's half-brother, heightening tensions in this fractured country as its new coalition government struggles to assert power. The Saleh-controlled military units are the same forces that the U.S. relies on for counterterrorism cooperation. The disorderly breakup of their ranks could be disastrous for anti-al Qaeda operations and for Yemeni security as a whole. The White House has backed the removal of President Saleh in part because the power vacuum caused by the nationwide revolt against him has allowed the Yemeni branch of al Qaeda to increase its footprint in the country.

The escalation of the protests against the Saleh family, which started a week ago, underscore the weaknesses of the nascent new government and the diplomatic deal designed to remove the longtime leader and usher in the first handover of power in Yemen's modern history. During the course of the yearlong anti-regime popular protests, top Yemeni army commanders and whole brigades mutinied against President Saleh in support of the demonstrators. But the military units headed by his relatives, including the air force, Republican Guards and the National Security Bureau, remained intact. They used their superior training and weaponry—much of it coming from U.S. military aid—in retaliatory attacks against the demonstrators.

Yemen is in great turmoil, and to reach out to al Qaeda might be a desperate bid by the current transitional government to win back territories lost in the last few months. 

References:
http://www.albawaba.com/editorchoice/yemen-military-gets-friendly-al-qaeda-411774
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203920204577190980616244636.html?mod=googlenews_wsj


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