29 Jan 2010

US may create fund to help Yemen battle al-Qaeda

11:01 am on 29 January 2010

The Obama administration considering creating a special fund to equip, support and train Yemeni security forces to counter al-Qaeda, US military officials say.

The proposed fund could be modelled after one created last year to boost Pakistan's counterinsurgency capabilities, but it is unclear whether a similar approach for Yemen would gain congressional support.

Critics say the internal security and intelligence services that could receive the support were major human rights abusers and that an expanded Pentagon role risked fuelling anti-American sentiment and boosting al-Qaeda's standing.

In addition to battling the region's al-Qaeda network, Yemen's weak central government faces Shi'ite rebels in the north and separatists in the south, raising questions in Congress about how the Pentagon intends to oversee how equipment is used once it has been transferred.

Washington has urged Yemen to seek a negotiated solution to the conflict with the Houthis, who are fighting government troops in the north and complain of social, religious and economic discrimination.