London, Asharq Al-Awsat- An official at the British Foreign Office has denied to Asharq Al-Awsat that there are any plans at present to deploy British troops in Yemen. The official was commenting on statements by British Chief of Staff General David Richards in which he said “a British military intervention like the one in Afghanistan might be possible.” But Richards later added in a statement to the “BBC” the day before yesterday that this was not likely at present and that the Yemeni Government did not want foreign military intervention.
A Defense Ministry spokesman contacted by Asharq Al-Awsat refused to clarify that Richards’ statements meant that there is a change in British policy towards Yemen.
The British official said: “Our present strategy focuses on strengthening the Yemeni Government to confront these challenges directly. There is therefore British support in the form of training the armed forces and helping the police fight terrorism and piracy. But there are not, of course, any plans or intention to send British forces to fight in Yemen.” He added: “Speculations about possible military intervention cannot reflect a fair image of the British policy approaches.”
In reply to a question about making changes to British policy toward Yemen, the British official said: “We knew before that there was a terrorist threat coming from Yemen and this has been a factor in our strategy toward Yemen. But it is also important to admit that terrorism is one of the symptoms of a deeper problem facing Yemen, such as corruption, scarcity of resources, the absence of public services, and the internal struggles in the south and north.” He added: “Yemen is facing many challenges at present and one (of Al-Qaeda’s) plans is to exploit these crises. Hence one of the strongest weapons against (Al-Qaeda) is confronting the economic and social challenges and strengthening the Yemeni Government so that it can carry out its role more effectively toward Yemeni society which serves the international interest.”