Washington: The Pentagon is planning to
restart programmes that would fund military training and
equipment in Yemen, nearly a year after they were shut down
because of escalating chaos in the embattled country.
While no agreements have been cemented, US defence
officials said as much as USD 75 million in military
assistance could begin to flow later this year.
The officials said the Pentagon and State Department are
putting together a letter to send to Congress to request the
aid be restarted.
The plan is in line with the Obama administration`s
intention to provide significant security and civilian aid to
Yemen in 2012-13 as long as the Middle Eastern country
continues to move toward a new government and funding is kept
out of the hands of insurgents.
One senior military official said discussions have begun
over how best the United States can help Yemen, which is
putting a new US-backed government in place. The official said
it may be difficult to relaunch the counterterrorism training
that was suspended about a year ago because Yemeni forces are
engaged in battle with the al Qaeda-linked insurgency.
Instead, the training program could shift to focus less
on fighting tactics and more on how to plan combat operations
and strategize against the enemy.
Officials spoke on condition of anonymity because no
final decisions have been made. Yearlong protests across
Yemen, coupled with pressure from the US, led to the ouster of
longtime Yemeni ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh.
US leaders have said they believe that newly inaugurated
Yemeni president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, will be a good
partner to the US The renewed effort come as the threat from
al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula also goes through its own
While often described as the top terror threat for
strikes inside the US, the group hasn`t surfaced as a key
player in any domestic threats for more than a year.
The killing in a US drone strike last fall of Anwar
al-Awlaki, the US-born radical militant cleric, has set back
the group`s terror efforts outside Yemen.
Al-Awlaki has been linked to the planning and execution
of several terror attacks targeting US and Western interests,
including the attempt to take down a Detroit-bound airliner in
2009 and the plot to bomb cargo planes in 2010.
But it`s hard to tell how long the lull may last.
"What we don`t necessarily know is are they going to be
focusing much more on Yemen, or is it a short term thing, to
be able to build up time and capacity to be able to strike at
a far enemy," said Frank Cilluffo, director of a homeland
security studies program at George Washington University who
served as White House domestic security adviser to President
George W Bush.