Defiant Yemen tells US soldiers to keep out

Donald Macintyre reports from Sana'a on the country's refusal to become the latest hub of America's war on terror

Yemen insisted yesterday that it could handle its own mounting security challenges without any direct foreign intervention, pointedly warning Washington to learn the lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan.

While welcoming US intelligence and technological co-operation, the Deputy Prime Minister for Defence and Security, Rashad al-Alimi, told a crowded news conference in the capital, Sana'a, that the government did not want foreign troops on its soil.

That message was reinforced by Foreign Minister Abukar al-Qirbi, who told CNN that fighting militants was "the priority and the responsibility of our security forces and the army".

On the possibility of direct US military intervention, he said: "No, I don't think we will accept that. I think the US as well have learned from Afghanistan and Iraq and other places that direct intervention can be self-defeating."

Yemen has found itself the focus of sharply increased international concern after responsibility for Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's failed Christmas Day bombing was claimed by al-Qa'ida's resurgent Arabian Peninsula wing, which is now based in Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world.

But at yesterday's press conference, Mr al-Alimi was keen to stress that the Nigerian student had been recruited by al-Qa'ida while he was in Britain. Abdulmutallab is known to have studied engineering at University College London before a second visit to Yemen in 2009. "The information provided to us is that Umar Farouk joined al-Qa'ida in London," the Yemeni minister said.

The Home Office made no immediate response to the allegation. It referred reporters to Wednesday's statement by Home Secretary Alan Johnson to the House of Commons that the Nigerian had been radicalised after leaving Britain.

The Yemeni authorities conceded that Abdulmutallab appeared to have met a radical American Muslim cleric in Yemen. The preacher, Anwar al-Awlaki, reportedly exchanged emails with Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a US Army psychiatrist charged with killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, and in October last year he predicted that Yemen could produce "the next surprise of the season".

Despite original Yemeni claims that Al-Awlaki was killed in a strike on an al-Qa'ida meeting place on 27 December, there has been widespread doubt over whether he and two other top leaders of the Yemen wing were hit, with some reports saying he escaped and is on the run.

Yemeni security forces have since launched operations to root out militants they said were behind threats that forced Western embassies to close on Sunday. The US embassy has subsequently reopened after the raid, which killed two militants.

Yemeni officials are also sensitive about claims that they had previously subordinated operations to clamp down on al-Qa'ida to its continuing conflict with Shia rebels in the north and efforts to tackle a growing secessionist threat from the formerly communist-run south. There have also been persistent criticisms that the country's stability has been further undermined by government corruption and the struggle by its long-standing President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to maintain rule by himself and his family.

Accusing al-Qa'ida of trying to make inroads into the Houthis (rebels) and southern secessionists, the Foreign Minister partly acknowledged the first of those charges, saying: "I think our thought was that maybe we should spare al-Qa'ida in the last year because of the confrontation in the south and with the Houthis. But al-Qa'ida took advantage of that."

Yemen now says that it has stepped up its pursuit of al-Qa'ida in the capital and two neighbouring provinces of Shabwa and Maarib, with security sources claiming the capture of eight militants in recent days. Checkpoints have reportedly been increased on major roads. A car journey through poorly lit streets to the centre of the capital in the early hours of yesterday passed three mobile checkpoints manned by armed security forces, while a fourth was visible on a dual carriageway leading to one of the city's barricaded main hotels.

Meanwhile Reuters reported that gunmen shot dead two Yemeni soldiers in an attack on a police station in Aden, the former capital of South Yemen. An independent Yemeni news website quoted a security official saying that the gunmen were believed to be suspects wanted in criminal cases.

Suggested Topics
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Support Technician (2nd Line / Server Support) - Bedford

£24000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: 2nd line IT Support Techn...


£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to have a b...

Year 3 Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: KS2 TeacherWould you like ...

Science Teacher

£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Are you a qualified science t...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments