Yemen’s Hadi offers olive branch to Qaeda
Military officers salute in front of poster of Yemen’s President Hadi during a military parade celebrating the 50th anniversary of Yemen’s revolution in Sanaa. REUTERS photoYemen’s president has offered dialogue to militants including al-Qaeda, but said they must agree first to put down weapons and reject support from abroad.
Restoring stability to Yemen has become an international priority given fears that jihadists could entrench themselves in a country and threaten world No. 1 oil exporter Saudi Arabia next door and important world shipping lanes. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and other militant groups including Ansar al-Sharia gained ground last year during a popular uprising that forced out veteran autocratic president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had been seen by Washington as its best ally in containing militants.
Since replacing Saleh in February, President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has waged an army offensive to oust such groups from areas of Abyan province in south Yemen while the United States has stepped up a campaign of missile strikes on them.
“I always say that, despite the blood that has been spilled, homes destroyed and people displaced, it is possible to open a dialogue,” Reuters quoted Hadi as saying. “But (this is) on condition that al-Qaeda announces its agreement to cast aside its weapons, repent of its extremist ideas that are far from Islam, and give up protecting armed elements from outside the country.”