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US Actions Strengthen Al-Qaeda in Yemen - National Dialogue Committee

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The decision by Western countries, especially the United States, to make Yemen their main military base lead to al-Qaeda getting stronger in the region, a representative of Yemen's National Dialogue Committee (NDC) said in an interview with Rossiya Segodnya news agency.

MOSCOW, August 4 (RIA Novosti) - The decision by Western countries, especially the United States, to make Yemen their main military base lead to al-Qaeda getting stronger in the region, a representative of Yemen's National Dialogue Committee (NDC) said in an interview with Rossiya Segodnya news agency.

"Al-Qaeda started to get stronger after 2009, when its various international branches decided to make Yemen their main base," an NDC youth activist Nadia Abdullah said.

"We are also convinced that other countries contributed to that, thinking they would free themselves of the [al-Qaeda] presence by redirecting al-Qaeda militants to Yemen. There are Iraqis here, Saudis, Syrians, Afghans, and Pakistanis. They did a disservice to Yemen," Abdullah added.

Al-Qaeda attacks on Yemen resumed after the Ramadan ended on July 27, with new casualties among both military forces and civilians, she said. The terrorist group mainly functions in Yemen's southern provinces of Shabwa and Abyan, although its presence is also visible in some northern desert provinces and in central Yemen.

The Americans periodically use drones to attack al-Qaeda militants, the effect, however, is the opposite, Abdullah said.

"US actions only lead to the increase in the number of terrorists in Yemen. Al-Qaeda cannot be destroyed with drones. It would be better if the millions spent on drones went on new schools in Yemen," she said.

The drones often kill civilians instead of militants, Abdullah said. Out of revenge, the relatives of those civilians, especially the young, join various extremist organizations, and create slogans such as "Death to America" and "Death to Israel."

The NDC representative also said that although al-Qaeda had a wide presence in Yemen, its danger should not be overestimated, as government officials often use the organization's brand to threaten the people, and military officials use it for "personal enrichment," as international donors send large resources to fight terrorism.

Abdullah said the priority for Yemen was to establish the sovereignty of the state, put people in control over the government's actions via a new constitution and disarm the formations, unofficial police and tribes that possess heavy weapons.

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