Friday, 5 November 2010

Treatment of Yemen unfair, foreign minister says


Yemen's foreign minister said Friday the international community is treating his country unfairly because of "the crimes of a few."

The country needs international support to fight terrorist groups, not measures like cargo shipment bans, which only hurt the country, Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi told CNN.

"We feel if one looks at the security situation in Yemen and compare it to other places, Afghanistan or, for that matter, Iraq, Yemen is much more secure than these two places," al-Qirbi said. "Yet somehow the media portrays Yemen as completely out of control, which is not the case."

Yemen has been in the spotlight for the past week after authorities disrupted a plot to send explosives from the Middle Eastern nation to U.S. synagogues.

The devices were packed in computer printer toner cartridges and designed to be detonated by a cell phone, a source close to the investigation said.

Investigators have found syringes and the powerful explosive PETN associated with the explosives, both of which are similar to the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound plane last Christmas.

That has led investigators to believe al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemeni-based arm of the terrorist network, was responsible for both plots. The group claimed responsibility for the December bombing attempt.

U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano recently said the devices found on freight planes in the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom last week have "all the hallmarks" of a plot by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

The group is "actively engaged in extremist-related activities in Yemen and the other Gulf countries," according to the U.S. State Department.

After last week's incidents, U.S. government authorities grounded packages originating from Yemen destined for the United States.

Al-Qirbi said measures like that are nothing but harmful.
"These are ill-advised decisions, because what you do is penalize hundreds of thousands of people for the crimes of a few," al-Qirbi told CNN.

"There's no need for that. If we are cooperating -- and we will build Yemen's ability to inspect, since December last year -- I feel these are really wrong decision(s) taken and play into the hands of the terrorists."

In recent months, Yemen, which wants to be seen as a committed partner in the fight against terrorism, has launched several offensives against al Qaeda in its country.

Al-Qirbi said the country needs more help to continue battling the problem."We need training, we need equipment, we need transportation, communications, intelligence information," he said.

Al-Qirbi was in Tokyo for a six-day official visit.

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