Friday, 7 May 2010

Obama names ambassador to violence-hit Yemen

Source: AFP 08/05/2010

WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama on Friday named Gerald Feierstein, who has broad experience in Arab and Muslim countries, to serve as ambassador to Yemen, which is battling a growing threat from Al-Qaeda.

Feierstein, currently deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Islamabad, would serve in a country where the British ambassador narrowly escaped a suicide attack last month.

The Senate must confirm his nomination, which was announced in a statement released by the White House on Friday. Feierstein would replace Stephen Seche, who arrived in Sanaa in August 2007.

A career foreign service member, Feierstein previously served as the principal deputy assistant coordinator and deputy assistant coordinator of programs in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, it said.

His overseas assignments include Tunis, Riyadh, Peshawar, Muscat, Jerusalem and Beirut, the White House said.

The US embassy in the last week advised Americans to remain vigilant about their personal security and urged embassy staff to avoid a hotel frequented by Westerners, the Movenpick Hotel in Sanaa, until further notice.

On April 26, a suicide bomber tried but failed to blow up the convoy of British ambassador Timothy Torlot near the Movenpick. Yemen's interior ministry had said that the attack carried the "fingerprints of Al-Qaeda."

Yemen has intensified operations against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group's local arm, since December -- the network claimed responsibility for the December 25 attempt to blow up a US airliner over Detroit.

The United States reportedly has supplied Yemen with intelligence and other support for its operations against Al-Qaeda militants.

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