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#Gargash: #Al_Qaeda in #Yemen is #weaker than ever

Hadramout21:Thenational

Al Qaeda in Yemen is weaker than it has ever been as the UAE’s military training and counterterrorism operation continue to battle the terrorist entity in the country, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash told reporters on Monday

Mr Gargash said the UAE’s fight against Al Qaeda in Yemen – also known as AQAP – represents the country’s wider policy towards the region

“Our fight with regards to extremism and terrorism is basically at the core of foreign policy, and for us, we don’t look at this simply as a Yemen issue, because the issue of terrorism is a major problem not only in the Arab world but beyond,” he said

The UAE continues to work on the ground with Yemenis to help eliminate terrorist strongholds but has limited its presence on the front lines, instead it hands responsibility to UAE-trained local military units

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The country intervened, as part of the Arab coalition, on behalf of the internationally recognised government of Abdrabu Mansur Hadi to fight the Iran-backed rebels. The Houthi insurgency in 2014 and 2015 allowed AQAP to fill a power vacuum and gain ground in the east of the country

Brig Gen Musallam Al Rashedi said on Monday that despite gains, the battle against Al Qaeda in Yemen required the continued support of the Yemeni people. Brig Gen Al Rashedi commanded the UAE special operation task force in 2015 and 2016


“You can’t kill your way to victory against AQAP in Yemen with drones and raids, the secret to winning is in the hearts and minds of the people of Yemen that will allow us to win this forever”, he said during a press briefing in Dubai on Monday

The UAE, as part of the Arab Coalition and in coordination with the US, has trained approximately 60,000 Yemeni fighters to battle the terrorist group. They are able to combine local knowledge and methods with counterterrorism strategy

By training tribes and militias who are local to areas where the terrorist insurgency has the most influence, the UAE has been able to implement a counterterrorism programme that has proved more effective, the official said

The task force has killed around 1,000 core members of AQAP, including 13 out of the 18 most wanted leaders

He said the terrorist organisation is so compromised that it is unable to export its ideology to the region, let alone maintain its presence in Yemen

“We are denying them the oxygen, so to speak, to exist. Most importantly for everyone outside Yemen, we have hampered their ability to export terrorism, they can’t go anywhere to conduct their operations,” Brig Gen Al Rashedi said

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