July 4th, 2011
06:33 PM ET

Yemeni opposition general calls for swift transition

Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson sat down for an exclusive interview with the man widely regarded as the most influential in Yemen: General Ali Mohsen Al-Ahmer. General Al-Ahmer broke ranks with President Ali Abdullah Saleh in March. Now his forces are in a stand-off with units loyal to the President. This is a partial transcript of the first television interview General Al-Ahmer has ever given to a western network.

Q. General, the Vice President says that President Saleh can stay in power until a new President is elected and that could take six months, maybe more – is that acceptable?

A. The general public in Yemen are seeking a transfer of power to the vice president – the way it was stipulated in the constitution and the GCC proposal. This is the general demand.

Q. Is that a yes, you’re willing to accept President Saleh staying in power for another 6 months?

A. People have agreed on the transfer of power. People have agreed to give a specific timetable for transfer of power, for the GCC initiative, and all the people in Yemen have agreed on this and the government and the opposition and the ruling party and the signing of the agreement is compulsory. And our friends the Americans and the Europeans and the British and the GCC and Saudi Arabia are guarantors for its implementation. So this is a principle that we must follow because there are agreements that sides have signed and it is compulsory that all sides agree on its specifics not change its points, not adding one letter to it, not decreasing one letter from it.

Q. The vice president has said that he has full power to negotiate and he can sign any document – that the president is out of the country – he’s sick, he’s incapacitated – so why can’t you just do a deal with the vice president? The president’s sick – he’s no part of the equation now …

A. Our brother the vice president is wise. Because he has morals, he’s not saying that openly. In reality, all sides agree on him, and all respect him but in truth he does not act with full authority as president of the Republic of Yemen, but in the future, he will practice his full authority.

Q. Why do you believe that? Because the president at the moment shows no sign of letting go of real power …

A. Because the country right now is living through a complete political stalemate – a constitutional stalemate and the people are watching. The people are waiting to see what will happen – negative reactions might happen but we hope that God will keep us far from civil war and other problems.

Q. The scenario you just described sounds very close to civil war – you’re asking for more international help and support to put pressure on president Saleh. Yet at the same time, you’re saying hopefully this won’t happen and everyone will stay peaceful – I don’t understand, are you close to civil war or aren’t you?

A. We need the intervention of our friends and quickly – because propagandas might take place against the country … It could put the country into a severe security stalemate. The entire region will be affected security wise.

Q. What are you doing to make sure that the dialogue continues and that violence doesn’t break out?

A. Honestly we met with the US Ambassador. We met our British friends and the British Ambassador. We also met with UN representative Omar and we met with the Gulf Ambassadors. We met with our brother the Vice President. And we also met with officials with the ruling party. We also ask for our friends the Americans, to intervene because they are guarantors in this initiative – because it really helps Yemen to ensure a unique, civil, democratic nation, so we can be stable and secure. So these peaceful demands – the people must help with these peaceful demands – whether friends or neighbors – to help Yemen pass to safe waters.

July 4th, 2011
04:24 PM ET

Target Americans: Russia on your radio

Jordan Hostetter doesn’t know it but he’s a target. A young professional living in Washington, D.C., curious about international events, who listens to the radio while driving to work. Just the kind of person Voice of Russia radio is trying to reach.

Changing American hearts and minds about Russia has been Voice of Russia’s mission ever since it first went on the air in 1929, broadcasting from Moscow via short-wave radio. It still does use short wave but with the internet, Facebook and Twitter, that seems like a blast from the past.

Undeterred, VOR is turning to that American classic, morning and evening-drive AM radio, broadcast from a brand-new studio in downtown Washington, D.C. It’s the first time VOR has produced programming directly from the United States rather than broadcasts from Moscow.

July 4th, 2011
04:08 PM ET

CNN exclusive interview with the Director of the NCTC

The National Counterterrorism Center located in Virginia was created to better integrate and analyze intelligence in hopes of preventing another 9/11. For Michael Leiter, who steps down as NCTC director on Friday after four and a half years at the helm, there has been a very personal aspect to the job.

Relics of the 9/11 attacks are on display in the lobby of the National Counterterrorism Center.


July 4th, 2011
11:23 AM ET

Suicide bomber was sold to terror network, Afghanistan says

The Pakistani Taliban recruited and trained a suicide bomber, then sold him to the Haqqani network to carry out an attack in Afghanistan, but he was arrested before pulling off the plan, an official with Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS) said Monday.

The accusation comes amid a growing war of words between Pakistan and Afghanistan, with each side blaming the other for instability and attacks, including cross-border bombardments. Last week Pakistan complained that the Afghan government and NATO were not doing anything to prevent the Taliban from crossing into tribal agencies in the east.

The Afghan NDS source, who did not want to be named for security reasons, said Afghan authorities arrested a man trying to commit a suicide attack in the Jaji Maidan district of Paktia Province in eastern Afghanistan. The bomber, identified as Sheer Hassan Khanjar, is from Miran Shah, Pakistan, and was recruited by Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, the official said.

After three years of training in how to carry out a suicide attack, the would-be bomber was sold to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the NDS source said. Sirajuddin Haqqani is a leader of the Haqqani network, which operates on both sides of the Pakistani-Afghan border. Afghanistan officials believe the Haqqani network was behind last week's deadly siege on a Kabul hotel.

Sheer Hassan, the alleged would-be suicide bomber, told Afghan officials that someone working for Mehsud sold him and others to the Haqqani network.

Pakistan army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said he had no information about claims the Haqqani network may be buying Pakistani suicide bombers from Mehsud and the Pakistani Taliban.

Abbas said the Pakistani government has long acknowledged that militants move back and forth along the border, and Pakistan is doing its part to stop it. "It's difficult to stop militants crossing the border in that region but it's the responsibility of both sides to stop it," Abbas said. "We have more than 900 check posts along the border and that's more than they have on the other side."

Tensions between the two nations have shown no sign of waning despite Afghan President Hamid Karzai's visit to Islamabad last month.

Journalist Fazel Reshad Wardak and CNN's Nick Paton Walsh and Reza Sayah contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Taliban
July 4th, 2011
08:57 AM ET

Troops receive call from new defense secretary

Newly confirmed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta marked his first Fourth of July by making calls to troops serving abroad, the Defense Department said Monday.

Six forward-deployed U.S. service members began their Independence Day with telephone calls from Panetta, who reached out to convey his thanks and support for their service, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Doug Wilson said.

Panetta, who was sworn in as the nation's 23rd defense secretary on Friday, spoke by phone with service members deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and Bahrain. The six individuals, representative of America's men and women in uniform who are away from their families, come from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Army National Guard.

Filed under: Afghanistan • Iraq • Military • Panetta • Secretary of Defense
July 4th, 2011
08:55 AM ET

Security brief – July 4, 2011

Compiled by Tim Lister

Syrian security forces enter Hama after massive protests; two shot dead in Damascus suburb

UK soldier missing in Afghanistan

More Af-Pak border clashes

Pakistani forces launch offensive in tribal agency

Libyan rebel leader's conflicting messages on "internal exile" for Gadhafi

Yemen: Islamists infiltrate Aden as army unit besieged in nearby city

Egypt-Israel pipeline sabotaged again

Bahrain: national dialogue underway – and street protests FULL POST

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Filed under: Security Brief
July 4th, 2011
08:22 AM ET

Iraqi Police Targeted in Multiple Attacks

Two police officers were killed and 7 people wounded when a car bomb targeting a police patrol exploded in Anbar province on Monday, officials said.
On Sunday, four Iraqi police officers were killed when gunmen attacked a checkpoint in the province.
In another attack in western Baghdad Sunday, a roadside bomb targeted another police patrol - killing three officers.
In southern Baghdad, a roadside bomb went off and claimed the life of a civilian. And in eastern Baghdad, a sticky bomb on a car killed two civilians.

July 4th, 2011
08:16 AM ET

Pakistan launches military offensive in tribal region

Pakistan launched a military operation Sunday in the Kurram Agency, officials said.
Thousand of troops are taking part in the operation, said two officials who did not want to be named because they are not authorized to speak to the media.
Kurram is one of seven districts of Pakistan's volatile tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

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Filed under: Pakistan