(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of Defense Robert Gates expressed worry regarding Yemen in an interview on This Week, after the middle eastern country’s long-time President, Ali Abdullah Saleh, said he was willing to step down. Widespread protests in Yemen have sapped Saleh’s political support in recent days.
“I think it is a real concern because the most active and, at this point, perhaps the most aggressive branch of al Qaeda -- al Qaeda and the Arabian Peninsula -- operates out of Yemen," Gates told ABC News when asked how dangerous a threat post-Saleh Yemen would be to the United States. "We have had a lot of counterterrorism cooperation from President Saleh and Yemeni Security Services,” he said.
“So if that government collapses or is replaced by one that is dramatically more weak, then I think we'll face some additional challenges out of Yemen. There's no question about it. It's a real problem,” Gates said.
In response to violence in Yemen last week, President Obama released a statement saying, in part, “I strongly condemn the violence that has taken place in Yemen today and call on President Saleh to adhere to his public pledge to allow demonstrations to take place peacefully. Those responsible for today’s violence must be held accountable.”
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