US to fund anti-terror police unit in Yemen as embassy shut down (updated)

Rewritten.

Yemen is apparently so dangerous that the U.S. and U.K. have shut down their embassy’s there. Obama will also use U.S. taxpayer dollars to fund an anti-terror police unit in Yemen because it is the new jidadi hotbed dujour among politicians. Simultaneously, Obama is returning known terrorists in U.S. custody back to Yemen and pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq. In return, al Qaeda in Yemen is vowing to return to Iraq with the help of Baathists in Iraq. This circuitous approach is baffling to say the least. From the BBC:

Officials said the UK and the US would jointly fund a counter-terrorism police unit in Yemen in the wake of an alleged bomb airline attack over Detroit.

Barack Obama has sent his top Middle East general to meet Yemen’s president.

The US president has alleged that the Christmas Day bomb suspect was trained by a Yemen-based al-Qaeda offshoot.

Gen David Petraeus – who is responsible for US Middle East and Central Asian operations – reportedly said the US was keen to support Yemen’s fight against al-Qaeda.

On Saturday, Mr Obama for the first time publicly accused an offshoot of al-Qaeda, based in Yemen, over the alleged attempt by Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to blow up an airliner over Detroit.

A statement from No 10 said Downing Street and White House officials had discussed “increased UK-US working” in a series of phone calls since the alleged failed plot on Christmas Day.

Mr Brown has called Yemen “both an incubator and potential safe haven for terrorism” and said it presented “a regional and global threat”.

The UK is one of Yemen’s leading donors and is already helping to train counter-terrorism officials in the country.

The increased assistance from both the UK and US will include support for the Yemeni coastguard operation.

Downing Street told the BBC: “This is a decision reached after discussion with the Yemeni government and the White House.

“The details are still to be worked out but this will build on the work already being done by the UK to help the Yemeni government combat terrorism.”

Update: Baathist to Relocate Al Qaeda Elements from Yemen to Iraq

The Iraqi Ministry of Interior confirmed a warning issued by a parliamentary committee that Al Qaeda militants based in Yemen are planning, with the aid of Baathist leaders in Sanaa, to move to Iraq via a neighboring country, after their continued presence in Yemen is uncertain following US intervention [in this conflict].

Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Alaa al-Ta’i confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat the veracity of the information put forward by the parliamentary Security and Defense committee. He said “the Defense committee, as a regulatory body for the work of all security agencies, is aware of this information, and there must be coordination between the intelligence service and the security agencies to prevent the movement of terrorists from Yemen to Iraq.”

Security and defense committee lawmaker, Ammar Toama, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the alliance between the Baathists and Al Qaeda “already existed in Iraq since 2003 and remains until today, and the reports confirm this. Everybody knows that their (Al Qaeda’s) funding comes from the Baathists, and that all acts of terrorism undertaken by them has been planned by the Baathists but implemented by (Al Qaeda). Such an alliance between them will take place in Iraq, and Yemen, and any where in the world.”

Toama added “Our problem since 2003 until today is that Iraq has become the scene for the entry of foreigners…and our security procedures along the border to prevent infiltration by (Al Qaeda) elements is very weak.” He added “we must strengthen our borders, by increasing the [number of] security forces there, and preparing them with modern means of monitoring [the border], and increasing the aerial surveillance along the border.”

As for the possibility of Al Qaeda elements infiltrating Iraq via neighboring countries, particularly Syria, Toama told Asharq Al-Awsat “the government must quickly resolve the issue of nominating an intelligence service official with high efficiency to meet these external challenges, and the financing and infiltration of terrorists.”

Toama also said “On the diplomatic level, the signing of security agreements with neighboring countries is a requirement to prevent the infiltration of terrorists, and weaken their sources of funding, and monitor their supporters in their countries. It is not unlikely that coordination with Yemen and neighboring countries in the same direction will take place, for mutual interests took place between the Americans and the Yemeni government as a result of the threat represented by (Al Qaeda). However our problem is that some neighboring countries embrace terrorism and aid them in their operations inside Iraq.”

More: U.S, U.K. shut down embassies in Yemen

“The U.S. Embassy in Sana’a is closed on Sunday, January 3, 2010, in response to ongoing threats by the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to attack American interests in Yemen,” said a statement posted on the embassy website. There was no mention about how long the embassy would remain closed.

BBC reports, Embassies shut after ‘Yemen lost track of arms trucks’:

According to Yemeni media, it comes after six trucks full of weapons and explosives entered the capital, and the security forces lost track of the vehicles.

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