Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh secretly offered U.S. forces open access to his country to launch attacks against al Qaeda targets, according to U.S. diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks and cited by media on Friday.
Saleh told U.S. President Barack Obama's deputy national security adviser John Brennan in September 2009: "I have given you an open door on terrorism. So I am not responsible," according to reports in Britain's The Guardian and The New York Times.
Both newspapers said that in fact Yemen has put limits on access by U.S. forces to avoid domestic criticism in the poorest country in the Arab world.
Saleh admitted lying to his people that U.S. cruise missile attacks on al Qaeda there last December were the work of Yemeni forces, with the support of American intelligence authorities, the papers said, citing the leaked cables.
"We'll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours," Saleh told General David Petraeus, then head of U.S. Central Command, on Jan. 2, The Guardian said.
Petraeus was in Sanaa to tell Saleh that Obama would allow U.S. ground forces using intelligence from satellites or aircraft to be based in Yemen to help with operations. But despite his suggestion of an "open door," Saleh turned down the offer due to concerns about U.S. casualties.
However, Saleh did agree to allow U.S. bombers to circle out of sight beyond Yemeni territory "ready to engage Aqap targets should actionable intelligence become available," The Guardian reported.
Saleh preferred precision-guided aircraft-launched bombs to ship-launched cruise missiles that were "not very accurate," according to the cables, the newspaper said.
ReutersLast Mod: 04 Aralık 2010, 11:16