Protesters shout slogans during a demonstration outside Yemen's President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi's house, to show support for his latest orders to restructure some military units on Monday, in Sanaa August 8, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)
A top White House official on Wednesday praised an anti-Qaeda offensive launched by Yemen's newly elected President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, hailing a "new determination" to combat the group.
"Since President Hadi has assumed the presidency, there is a new determination, a new consistency in terms of what the Yemeni government is doing on counterterrorism," chief counterterrorism advisor John Brennan said in a talk at the Council on Foreign Relations think tank in Washington.
The United States maintained a close relationship with Hadi's predecessor Ali Abdullah Saleh, who resigned in February after 33 years in power, but Brennan said there were "strong disagreements" with the former president.
"There is such a mix of politics and tribes and so many different things ... that at times the Yemeni government before President Hadi would see how certain counterterrorism operations would affect their political equities," he said.
Brennan said Yemeni forces under Hadi had put "unprecedented pressure" on Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) -- widely seen in Washington as the global network's most dangerous franchise.
The United States continues to provide military aid to Yemen, including $159 million this year alone, and carries out aerial drone strikes on suspected Al-Qaeda targets, Brennan said.
"Contrary to conventional wisdom, we see little evidence that these actions are triggering widespread anti-American sentiment or recruits for AQAP," he said.
Brennan added that more than half of the $337 million in total US aid is focused on assistance for the political transition, humanitarian aid and development.