30/05/09 (B501) Asharq-e.com : Le patron de la CIA discute avec le Président du Yémen de la manière de combattre Al Quaeda et ils évoquent le problème de 100 yéménites détenus à Guantanamo. // CIA Deputy Chief in Yemen for Talks on al-Qaeda (En Anglais)

The CIA deputy director coordinated with Yemen’s president Thursday on fighting al-Qaeda and also discussed the fate of some 100 Yemeni detainees locked up in Guantanamo Bay.

Stephen Kappes made an unannounced visit to the country to meet President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the southern city of Taiz, about 170 miles south of the capital San’a. Saleh’s office said they discussed security cooperation and combating terrorism.

The impoverished country on the tip of the Arabian peninsula, a U.S. partner in the fight against terrorism, has re-emerged as a potential base for al-Qaeda. Two Saudi former Guantanamo detainees are believed to be leading Yemen’s branch of al-Qaeda.

The country has also been rocked by a recent flare-up of violence in the south, where separatist sentiment is mounting against the central government. Southerners accuse the central government of marginalization. The north and south fought a civil war in 1994.

Kappes and Saleh also talked about the fate of the Yemeni prisoners in Guantanamo, said security officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

President Barack Obama wants to close Guantanamo, a Navy detention center that houses suspected terrorists. But the discussions over where to send the Yemeni detainees have delayed plans to close it.

The Yemenis are the largest national group among the 241 detainees still at the prison. Obama’s administration has been negotiating with Saudi Arabia and Yemen for months to send them to Saudi terrorist rehabilitation centers.

Earlier this month, Obama spoke directly with the president of Yemen about the detainees and also discussed how their countries could work together on counterterrorism policy.

Saleh has resisted the idea of sending the detainees to Saudi Arabia, saying his country would set up its own rehabilitation centers. But his office said Thursday he is scheduled to visit Saudi Arabia on Sund ay for talks on security issues and other matters.

U.S. officials have made a strong push for Yemen to endorse the Saudi plan, which would reduce the number of detainees that would be relocated to the United States. Senior security official John Brennan visited Yemen in March. Defense Secretary Robert Gates discussed the plan with Saudi officials during a recent trip.

Gates at the time said that Saleh could be « reluctant to speak out openly and say that this would be a good idea, in part because he may feel that it reflects an inability in Yemen to handle the problem. »

Few dispute that Saudi Arabia has one of the most successful jihadist rehabilitation programs in the world. Thousands of extremists, including Guantanamo detainees, have received job training, psychological therapy and religious re-education before being sent back to society. The vast majority have not rejoined the fight, according to Saudi officials and terrorism experts.

Yet some have. In an embarras sing episode for the kingdom, Saudi officials announced in February that 11 former Guantanamo detainees who went through the rehab program are now on its government’s most wanted terrorist list for their connections to al-Qaeda. Among them is Said Ali al-Shihri, who emerged as a leader of Yemen’s branch of al-Qaeda after being released from the Saudi program a year ago.

And the U.S.-Yemeni relationship has other problems as well.

Yemen infuriated the United States in 2007 by releasing Jamal al-Badawi, the convicted mastermind of the 2000 USS Cole bombing that killed 17 American sailors. Al-Badawi was set free after turning himself in and pledging loyalty to Saleh. He has since been taken back into custody after pressure from Washington.

Kirk Lippold, who commanded the USS Cole when it was attacked, has sharply criticized the plan to turn the detainees over to either Yemen or Saudi Arabia as an unacceptable compromise to U.S. national security. He said Yemen has proved to be an untrustworthy and unreliable partner in the war on terror.

10/03/08 (B438) ASHARQ ALAWSAT / Après que les islamistes aient annoncé qu’ils avaient pénétré les lignes de défense éthiopiennes, le Président du GNT somalien aurait demandé une trêve aux représentants islamiques – Somali President Seeks Truce with Islamic Courts (Info lecteur – En Anglais)

By Khaled Mahmoud

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Informed Somali sources have revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat that Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf has been in contact with officials from Al-Hawiya tribe, the largest tribe which controls Mogadishu, in a bid to convince the military wing of the Islamic Courts organization in the capital to agree to a truce and a ceasefire between the two sides.

This comes at a time when the Al-Mujahidin Youth movement announced that it had penetrated the defense lines of the Ethiopian forces based in the capital Mogadishu, and that it carried out an operation that it said was unprecedented.

The sources said that the mediation efforts led by former Somali interior minister Muhammad Mahmud Guled were aimed at inducing the Islamic Courts to halt their military activity in Mogadishu in return for its participation in peace negotiations sponsored by the UN, the Arab League, and the European Union. They said there has been relative progress in the negotiations over the past two days but denied there have been direct talks between the military wing of the Courts and the Somali Government.

The sources added that the negotiations are taking place through the clan leaders of the Al-Hawiya tribe and that there was still a possibility of a positive outcome emerging in the coming period.

Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf meanwhile accused the Al-Qaeda organization of launching a wide-scale terror war against his Government in several parts of the country and of supporting the armed movements that oppose him.

Yusuf’s aides who spoke with Asharq Al-Awsat on his behalf affirmed that Al-Qaeda has very active elements within Somalia. He said that Somalia is waging a ferocious war in an attempt to block what he called terrorist groups from continuing to shake the security and stability of the state that has been in a grueling civil war for the past 17 years.

The Somali President told Asharq Al-Awsat through his aide that the bombing carried out lately by US warplanes against the locations of Al-Qaeda and those affiliated to it in southern Somalia were undertaken with his knowledge and approval. « We and the Americans are partners in combating terrorism and our interests are identical in eradicating terrorists and preventing them from turning the country into a safe haven for terror, » he said.

According to his aide, Yusuf also stressed that his security bodies had full information about the parties that finance those terrorists, the names of the terrorists, and the places where they were located as well as their nationalities as they try to hit the stability and to prolong the civil war in his country. He disclosed that there were foreigners from Al-Qaeda inside Somalia to bolster the abilities of the armed movements that are hostile to the Transitional Government he has headed since October, 2004.

Yusuf urged the international community to extend all the necessary financial and logistical support to his Government’s efforts to combat terrorism, considering that without acquiring such support the terrorist danger increases in light of the limited capabilities at the disposal of his Government. The Somali President reiterated that he will not negotiate with any person whose hands are stained with the blood of the Somali people and who has worked to procure foreign terrorists from Al-Qaeda to come to his country, pointing out that the war on terrorism is long and complex and that it needs patience and biding of time.

Meanwhile the extremist Al-Mujahidin Youth movement, which is against Yusuf and the foreign military presence in Somalia, announced that it carried out yesterday a bold operation against the Ethiopian forces which it described as the first of its type. It said its elements penetrated the main defense line of the Ethiopian forces on Al-Thalathin Street in the Somali capital after a vicious battle along the length of the street and in the neighboring villages, according to a statement from the movement of which Asharq Al-Awsat received a copy. « We were able to eradicate a large number of Ethiopians from the first defenses between the crossing of Barabj and Black Sea (in the capital) stretching eastward to Libatgh and westward to the milk plant, » it said. The movement provided no details on losses sustained by the Ethiopian Army or its elements, but it said that Ethiopian tanks responded by random firing without inflicting any casualties among its elements.

An African Union official who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity said that the AU was facing a real problem in providing the necessary funds for the African peace forces in Somalia. He said this was a recurrent problem whenever the time comes to pay the salaries of the soldiers from Burundi and Uganda, adding that this impeded the task of these forces in preserving peace and restoring security to the Somali capital. Uganda’s Defense Minister said yesterday in Kampala that his country cannot abide by its offer to assume full control of the peacekeeping mission in Somalia because « no one has extended the necessary funds …

Contrary to the promises made to us, there are no funds to transport the soldiers or assume peacekeeping in Somalia ».