What’s a desperate dictator to do in the death throes of his reign? Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, has embarked on a bold new strategy: empower Al Qaeda.Give them land and weapons and hope that the Americans and the Sauds get freaked out and come riding to the rescue. Global Post has the details:
The beleaguered president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, has withdrawn his elite, American-trained counterterrorism units from the Al Qaeda-plagued southern province of Abyan, ceding control to a fractured group of local leaders, tribes, Al Qaeda militants and other fundamentalist splinter groups.
Giving up control of Abyan province, a centre of Al Qaeda activity, Yemen’s president might be out to prove to the United States and Saudi Arabia — two former allies who have remained quiet as a widespread pro-democracy movement has taken hold inside the country — that his ouster would lead to a resurgence of terrorist activity, analysts said.
Yemen’s tribal regions have long been a destination for Al Qaeda militants who have taken advantage of the lack of government presence to organise, train and plan attacks. The United States has cooperated with the Saleh administration on counterterrorism efforts and now, one of the last-remaining elite military forces still under Saleh’s control is an American-trained counterterrorism unit, led by the president’s oldest nephew. It is this unit that withdrew from Abyan.
Abdul Ghani al-Iryani, a prominent Yemeni political researcher and analyst, said there had been no clashes between militants belonging to Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Yemeni military before or after the withdrawal, indicating the territory was voluntarily given up.
You can read the whole thing here.
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