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Countering Qaeda in Yemen Sparks Controversy in Washington | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Boys gather near the wreckage of a car destroyed in 2012 by a U.S. drone air strike targeting suspected al-Qaeda militants in Azan, in the southeastern Yemeni province of Shabwa, in this February 3, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah/Files

London- Yemen’s government demanded that United States forces operative in the country refer to Yemeni officials before engaging in any military action, whether aerial or ground based.

Coordination with Yemeni forces is to reduce risks of losing civilian lives.

Yemen said it had not suspended counter-terrorism operations with the U.S. government, despite controversy over a U.S. commando raid on al-Qaeda militants in which several civilians were also killed.

A statement by the Yemeni embassy in Washington said the government “stresses that it has not suspended any programs with regards to counterterrorism operations in Yemen with the United States Government”.

The Yemeni government “reiterates its firm position that any counterterrorism operations carried out in Yemen should continue to be in consultation with Yemeni authorities and have precautionary measures to prevent civilian casualties.”

Yemeni officials told Reuters that President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi had not withdrawn the official permission for the U.S. to carry out special operations ground missions but had made clear their “reservations” about the last operation.

Hadi has met with the U.S. ambassador to Yemen and “made clear his reservations about the problems with the last operation,” a senior Yemeni official told the news agency.

A debate is currently raging on strategies used on fighting al-Qaeda offshoot in Yemen, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

U.S. forces led a commando operation known by the Yakla raid, approved by President Donald Trump, which took place in the area of Al Bayda province in central Yemen. The Jan. 29 commando raid was only the second publicly acknowledged ground attack by U.S. forces in Yemen.

The raid resulted in the death of a U.S. Navy member along at least 14 civilians, women and children, most notably the daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, AQAP’s leader, who was killed on a U.S.-led raid in 2012.

The State Department said the U.S. would continue working with Hadi “and his representatives to ensure that this important partnership remains solid in order to ultimately eradicate” al-Qaeda and ISIS from Yemen.

The U.S. operation may also have created a headache for the government not only by killing innocent people but also a local ally of pro-government tribes fighting the Houthi-led coup.