US role in Yemen covered up by its president, WikiLeaks file reveals
Added under US Military Affairs
In public, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh has consistently played down any U.S. military role in air strikes against al Qaeda targets in Yemen, but one of the secret U.S. cables published by WikiLeaks paints a different picture.
In a meeting with U.S. Gen. David Petraeus in the capital of Sana'a in January, President Saleh agreed to continue covering up the latest plan to use U.S. fixed-wing bombers with precision weapons to attack terrorists in his country. The Yemeni president told Petraeus that would be preferable to the continued use of long-range cruise missiles, which Saleh said were "not very accurate."
"We'll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours," Saleh said, according to the diplomatic cable written by the U.S. ambassador at the time, Stephen Seche. That comment prompted Saleh's deputy "to joke that he had just 'lied' by telling Parliament" that the U.S.-made bombs were used in attacks by Yemeni forces.
Yemeni and American officials are reluctant to publicly acknowledge the U.S. role, because it could cause a backlash in Yemen. The country is a hotbed of al Qaeda activity and is considered the launching point for recent attempts to take down airplanes using explosives. The home of radical Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki is based in Yemen.
Earlier this month, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman refused to provide details about counterterrorism assistance in Yemen.
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