U.S.-Yemen Relationship ‘Unshakeable’ Despite Attack

WASHINGTON, May 22, 2012 — A sui­cide bomb­ing in Yemen’s cap­i­tal of Sana yes­ter­day that killed or injured more than 100 Yemeni sol­diers bears all the hall­marks of hav­ing been planned and car­ried out by al-Qai­da in the Ara­bi­an Penin­su­la, Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary George Lit­tle said today.

“We con­demn this kind of vio­lence,” Lit­tle told reporters. “It obvi­ous­ly result­ed in seri­ous loss of life and injury, and our hearts go out to the vic­tims and their fam­i­lies.”

Lit­tle said the bomb was set off in a crowd­ed area, appar­ent­ly dur­ing a rehearsal for mil­i­tary com­mem­o­ra­tions.

Asked if the device used — report­ed to be a sui­cide vest — was a new kind of bomb, Lit­tle replied, “There was enough ord­nance attached to the device that it result­ed in seri­ous loss of life. I’m not sure that we can draw any con­clu­sions more broad­ly about where ter­ror­ists might go in terms of their bomb-mak­ing and bomb attacks in Yemen or any­where else based on this one event.”

Lit­tle said U.S. mil­i­tary train­ers in Yemen sup­port the Yemeni government’s efforts to pur­sue ter­ror­ists in their own coun­try. The Defense Department’s focus there is to train, advise and assist Yemeni forces and deep­en the two nations’ coun­tert­er­ror­ism coop­er­a­tion, he said.

“We have a very strong mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship with Yemen,” he added. “That rela­tion­ship is focused in large part on joint­ly address­ing the coun­tert­er­ror­ism threat posed by al-Qai­da in the Ara­bi­an Penin­su­la.”

The group, known as AQAP, con­tin­ues to plot against the Unit­ed States, Yemen and oth­er nations, Lit­tle said. “We just need to stay vig­i­lant, and we’ll do that with our part­ners,” he added.

A White House state­ment released yes­ter­day said John Bren­nan, assis­tant to the pres­i­dent for home­land secu­ri­ty and coun­tert­er­ror­ism, called Yemeni Pres­i­dent Abdo Rabu Man­sour Hadi to con­vey Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s deep con­do­lences for the attack that “bru­tal­ly killed and injured more than 100 Yemeni sol­diers.”

Bren­nan “con­demned the despi­ca­ble vio­lence that struck as Yemen’s mil­i­tary forces were prepar­ing to cel­e­brate their country’s uni­ty on Yemen’s Nation­al Day,” the state­ment con­tin­ued.

Bren­nan and Hadi “reaf­firmed the unshak­able part­ner­ship between Yemen and the Unit­ed States, and Pres­i­dent Hadi pledged not to let ter­ror­ist acts inter­fere with Yemen’s peace­ful polit­i­cal tran­si­tion,” the state­ment said.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)