UN warns of growing Al-Qaeda threat in Yemen

The UN Security Council expressed concern Tuesday that Al-Qaeda could exploit the power vacuum in Yemen to gain an even greater foothold in the country.

The 15-nation council urged followers of ailing president Ali Abdullah Saleh and the opposition to quickly settle Yemen's fate because of the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in the country.

Yemeni anti-government protesters gesture and chant slogans during a rally in Sanaa on August 8, 2011 upon hearing rumors that President Ali Abdullah Saleh will not return to Yemen after leaving a Saudi hospital two months after he was badly wounded in a bomb attack

The UN envoy Jamal Benomar reaffirmed warnings that the Yemen economy could collapse in a briefing to the council after his latest mission to the Red Sea nation.

Council members highlighted their "grave concern" over the economic and humanitarian deterioration in Yemen, in a statement released after the meeting.

"They were deeply concerned at the worsening security situation, including the threat from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula," added the statement.

Yemen has been gripped in political turmoil since an uprising against the 33-year-old rule of Saleh, now recovering from bomb blast wounds, erupted in January. Hundreds have died in battles between security forces and protesters, and between security forces and Al-Qaeda fighters.

The Security Council urged all sides to allow "humanitarian" access to Yemen and warned over increasingly severe shortages of basic supplies in the country as well as growing damage to key infrastructure.

The body "called on all parties to move forward urgently an inclusive, orderly and Yemeni-led process of political transition."

The Yemeni opposition vying to oust Saleh said Tuesday it would elect an umbrella "national council" on August 17 aiming to take over power.


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