Af-Pak Border, Not Yemen, Epicentre of al-Qaida: Obama

Ruling out sending troops to Yemen, US President Barack Obama has said that the Pakistan-Afghanistan border remains the epicenter of al-Qaida activities.

“The border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan remains the epicentre of al Qaeda,” Obama said in an interview to People magazine, excerpts of which were released on Sunday.

Obama acknowledged that al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen has become ‘a more serious problem’, he ruled out sending troops there at this point of time.

“I have no intention of sending US boots on the ground in these regions,” Obama said.

“I have every intention of working with our international partners in lawless areas around the globe to make sure that we’re keeping the American people safe,” Obama said.

US presently has troops in Iraq and Afghanistan with Obama saying that the country’s focus is on Afghanistan.

Activities of al-Qaida in Yemen got media headlines following a failed attempt by a Nigerian youth to blow up a US plane. Al-Qaida later claimed responsibility for the attempt.

However, top US military generals and the CENTCOM Commander General David Petraeus have said that Af-Pak, not Yemen, remains the most important location for the war against al Qaeda.

“I don’t think it (Yemen) is the most important (location for the war against al Qaeda),” Petraeus said. “That would likely still be the western Pakistan, Afghanistan border area, but certainly a very important area, in an area where, again, it has been resurgent… Somalia another one like that, at a time when al Qaeda has suffered severe reverses in Saudi Arabia, been reduced considerably in Iraq, and indeed, even in the western areas of Pakistan, Afghanistan.”

Ruling out the prospect of sending troops to Yemen, he said: “We would always want a host nation to deal with a problem itself. We want to help. We’re providing assistance.”

The US asked the Yemen government to crack down on the al Qaeda network and pledged assistance following the failed Christmas Day attack.

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