Obama not pushing for Yemen president to go because of Al Qaeda threat: Experts

March 23rd, 2011 - 4:16 pm ICT by ANI  

Barack Obama Washington, Mar. 23 (ANI): US President Barack Obama has refrained from joining Yemeni protesters and one-time government loyalists in calls for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down due to the presence if the AQAP or the Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula, that has directly targeted American soil.

According to a Christian Science Monitor (CSM) report, American interests in Yemen are clear-cut.

The US considers Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen to be perhaps the most dangerous.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said: “instability and diversion of attention from dealing with AQAP is my primary concern about the situation.”

But concerns that instability in Yemen could be a boon to Al Qaeda’s freedom of action there are very likely behind Obama’s reluctance to abandon Saleh, say experts.

Boston University’s Mr. Dunbar notes that Obama’s senior counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan, called Sanaa Sunday and “read Saleh the riot act” about Friday’s violent repression.

On the other hand, he suspects the US is still clinging to Saleh though many Yemenis have long sought an end to his 33-year reign.

“I can imagine that the [CIA], powerfully represented by [Director Leon] Panetta, could be saying, ‘Leave him alone, he’s all we’ve got,’ ” he adds.

Saleh’s rise to becoming Washington’s “ally in the war on terror” suggests how things have changed since Dunbar was ambassador in Sanaa in 1988-91, he says.

Saleh approved US missile attacks on AQAP targets and acted to facilitate the American targeting of Anwar al-Awlaki, the US-born Yemeni cleric the CIA is out to kill or capture.

The US is spending millions of dollars to train and equip new Yemeni counter-terrorism forces.

But the millions of dollars in US aid - or Obama’s eventual abandoning of the Yemeni president - may not in the end play a decisive role in Saleh’s fate. (ANI)

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