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Eurasia Security Watch - No. 252

Edited by Amanda Lamb
February 22, 2012

The transitional government in Yemen has reached out to Al Qaeda to offer it a place in the political process after former President Ali Abdullah Saleh was removed from leadership at the end of January. Vice President Abdurabu Hadi, the head of the military committee now ruling the country, proposed an opportunity for the terrorist organization to be, “involved in the political decisions of the country, rather than forcing their views with the use of arms.” In exchange, Al Qaeda would have to agree to pull out of the Abyan and Shabwa provinces over which they currently maintain control. In January, Hadi and Al Qaeda militants in the Al-Baitha province came to an understanding, which resulted in their withdrawal from the region. This policy represents a reversal of former President Saleh’s staunch anti-terrorism campaign in partnership with the U.S. There is no word of a response from Al Qaeda. (February 5,


In response to growing tensions with Turkey, Israel is seeking new strategic partners in the Mediterranean and has found a willing participant in the divided island nation of Cyprus. On February 7, reports surfaced that Israel will request permission to house its fighter jets at the Andrea Papendreaou airbase in the south of Cyprus when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the country at the end of the month. Defense ministers from both countries met in January to sign cooperation agreements that will serve to strengthen the pre-existing close ties between the two countries. Terms of the formal arrangement could create a permanent base for Israeli military use or just as a center for logistical support. Some analysts have sepculated Israel may be attempting to position itself to gain control over newly discovered gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea. (February 7,
Jerusalem Post)

[Editor’s Note: Ethnically, Cyprus is 80% Greek and 20% Turkish. The northern third of Cyprus has been occupied by Turkish forces since 1974 when the country tried to initiate a formal union with Greece. The region is called the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus but is recognized only by Turkey. The southern 2/3 of Cyprus is under the control of the Greek-backed and internationally-recognized Republic of Cyprus, with which Israel is now embracing after years of frosty relations.]


“These actions have consequences for our relationship and our assistance programs,” responded White House Press Secretary Jay Carney to Egyptian charges against American NGO workers. On February 6, Egypt’s Justice Ministry released the results of an investigation by Fayza Aboulnaga, the planning and international cooperation minister, which indicts 43 international pro-democracy officials, including 19 Americans, on charges of lacking proper registration and illegal foreign funding. The Egyptian officials claim that these NGO employees were partial to certain political parties and even promoted instability, whereas the democracy workers claim they were simply educating new politicians through training programs. Egypt is one of the largest recipients of U.S. foreign assistance, but the billions of dollars of aid may be in jeopardy as a result of these indictments. (
Al Jazeera, February 6)


Kazakhstan Foreign Minister Yerzhan Kazykhanov visited the U.S. at the beginning of February, meeting with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton on February 1 to discuss democratic reforms in the country. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe deemed last month’s parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan poor and insufficient in meeting standards of the international community. In addition to pressing for reform of the electoral process, State Department officials also pushed for investigations into a violent response of the local government to labor protests in Zhanaozen. Despite these areas of conflict, Secretary Clinton believes that there has been, “positive cooperation,” with Kazakhstan in areas such as Afghanistan and nuclear non-proliferation. (
Eurasia Net, February 2)

Related Categories: Middle East

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