Why would a sudden increase in U.S. military aid to the Arabian Peninsula nation of Yemen transform the Middle East's poorest nation into a loyal ally in the war on terror? It's kind of hard to see, given that Yemen harbors a branch of the al-Qaida
terrorist group that has been the avowed enemy of the United States for years and is responsible for devastating attacks that have killed thousands of people. But Gen. David Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command, announced Friday that the United States would more than double its $70 million in annual military support to help the government in Sanaa, Yemen's capital, crack down on militants believed to be setting up headquarters there, according to the Reuters international news service. "We have, it's well known, about $70 million in security assistance last year, Petraeus said at a news conference. "That will more than double this coming year." British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Western support was needed to help Yemen avoid becoming a haven for terrorists, and announced a high-level meeting in London later this month. "The international community must not deny Yemen the support it needs to tackle extremism," Brown said. The al-Qaida in Yemen branch itself has claimed responsibility for this month's aborted attack on a passenger jet and is responsible for the attack on the USS Cole in Aden that killed 17 U.S. sailors in 2000 -- even before the still-hard-to-believe attack by its parent organization that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York.