The Pentagon said yesterday there were no plans to suspend US military assistance to Yemen but urged a swift transition of power amid a wave of anti-regime protests.
Asked at a news conference if the US administration was considering withholding military aid due to unrest and violence against demonstrators, press secretary Geoff Morrell said: “As far as I know, it has not been.”
“Obviously, we are monitoring the situation closely. It’s fluid,” Morrell said.
Washington has viewed Saleh as a valuable ally in efforts to contain the Al Qaeda threat. But the US shifted its stance this week, urging him to relinquish power.
“The situation right now is a difficult one, the longer it festers the more difficult it becomes,” Morrell told reporters.
“That is why this government has been urging a negotiated transition as quickly as possible.”
But he said the threat from Al Qaeda in Yemen was serious and that it was possible US military assistance would continue no matter the outcome of the political turmoil.
In 2010, the Defence Department spent $ 150mn to train and arm Yemen’s security forces and has requested from Congress more than $ 100mn for the current fiscal year and $ 115.6mn in military and economic aid for fiscal year 2012.
The White House on Monday expressed fears of Al Qaeda’s affiliate in the country taking advantage of a power vacuum produced by the upheaval. Agencies