Posted in: Front Page
Written By: Shuaib M. al-Mosawa
Article Date: Mar 31, 2012 – 8:14:17 PM
The Yemeni political turmoil during the past year has emboldened al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) to further its control over more territories, said the U.S. ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstein.
In an interview with the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat on March 25, Feierstein said that the splits within the Yemeni military institution represent an obstacle to the implementation of a successful campaign against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
U.S. officials have repeatedly called for a unified Yemeni army. Obama’s top counterterrorism advisor had criticized defected generals who sided with the anti-government protesters, namely the defected General Ali Muhsin al-Ahmar, and called them “to set aside their political agendas, and to do what’s in the best interest of the Yemeni people, and that the time has come for the Yemeni military to be able to be a unified, disciplined, and professional organization.”
Feierstein said that “If we solve some of the political problems that created chaos in the Yemeni military, we will have improved the possibility of succeeding in our initiatives against al Qaeda.”
He said that the Somalis comprised the majority among multinational jihadists reported to have come to Yemen to support AQAP. Regarding the southern separation sentiment, he said: “We saw that this issue has been solved in 1990 when the country was unified in 1994.
The United States has clearly supported maintaining the unity of Yemen, and our position remains the same today.” Feierstein said that though the U.S. administration enjoys good relations with the Islah Party, it has some concerns over some of Islah members linked to al-Qaeda.
“On the other hand, there are elements of the Islah and namely Abdul Majeed al-Zindani identified by the United Nations as a supporter of terrorism, which we have great concern about it.
We have been clear to raise these concerns with the leadership of the Islah Party and we were clear with them that the presence of Abdul Majeed al-Zindani, his supporters, and his followers in the party is causing a problem for us and the rest of the international community,” Feierstein added. After keeping a low profile over the past couple of years, al-Zindani, designated by the U.S. Treasury Department as a global terror, has jumped into the spotlight again when he sided with the protesters last year, calling for establishing an Islamic Caliphate.