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Yemen diverted US counter-terrorism aid meant to tackle Al Qaeda: WikiLeaks

December 7, 2010 - London

A December 2009 cable sent by the US embassy in Yemeni capital Sanaa, published by WikiLeaks, shows that Yemen deployed a US-funded counter-terrorism unit to fight domestic rebels instead of Al Qaeda.

The counter-terrorism unit was deployed to fight against militant Houthi rebels in the northern governorate of Saada during a surge in fighting last year, the Guardian reports.

As the US weighs another possible increase in Yemen aid early next year, WikiLeaks has revealed that Yemen is diverting at least some of the US counter-terrorism resources to tackle other domestic priorities - including President Ali Abdullah Saleh's enemies.

"Increasingly desperate to defeat the Houthis, the [Yemeni government] continues to insist that fighting the Houthis is a legitimate component of CT [counter-terrorism] operations, thus justifying the use of CTU forces in Saada," reads the State Department cable.

The cable underscores - and appears to at least partially validate - concerns that millions of dollars in US counterterrorism aid may be used not only to fight Al Qaeda, but to address other Yemeni priorities not shared by Washington.


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