President Barack Obama will sign an executive order authorizing the Treasury Department to freeze U.S. assets of people and entities working against a political transition in Yemen, according to a White House official.
The order to be signed today will give the Treasury Department, in consultation with the State Department, authority to take action against those deemed by the U.S. to pose a threat to Yemen’s security, stability or peace, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity before the announcement. The official declined to release the text of the order last night.
The Obama administration’s move is aimed at promoting an orderly transition in the Mideast nation. Abdurabuh Mansur Hadi was elected president of the Arab world’s poorest country in February after Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed in November to relinquish power under a Gulf-brokered peace plan after more than 33 years in office.
The Obama administration’s order comes as the U.S. seeks ways to combat terrorist activity in Yemen. White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan visited on May 13 to discuss “extremist groups” and U.S. assistance with Yemeni officials, according to a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a.
The Washington Post reported the order last night.
Brennan’s visit followed the disruption of a conspiracy by Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to build a potentially undetectable bomb in the month before the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death.
The plot was halted by an “international sting operation” in which Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency, working closely with the CIA, used an informant to pose as a willing suicide bomber, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Brennan has called al-Qaeda a weakened force and said that the U.S. must keep tabs on al-Qaeda’s most active branch in the Yemen area.
Yemen, bordering Saudi Arabia and Oman at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, is struggling to recover from protests that have weakened the central government’s authority and reduced oil production to about half of its 250,000-barrel-a-day capacity.
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