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U.S. Embassy reopens; Yemen assures security

SAN'A, Yemen — Friction emerged Tuesday in the growing alliance with the Yemeni government as the U.S. Embassy ended a two-day closure triggered by a terrorist threat from al-Qaida.

The Yemen government, which sent thousands of troops this week to remote provinces where al-Qaida has set up strongholds, has been angered by suggestions that the state is too weakened to handle the fight against terrorists.

The embassy closure on Sunday became a case in point, rankling some officials who said it gave the appearance that Yemeni security forces could not protect the facilities.

On Tuesday, as the embassy reopened, the Interior Ministry insisted the fight against al-Qaida was under control, saying Yemeni forces "have imposed a security cordon around al-Qaida elements everywhere they are present and... are observing and pursuing them around the clock."

The government also has carried out a series of U.S.-backed strikes against militant hideouts in the past month.

More broadly, the intensified partnership with the U.S. presents dilemmas for Yemen.

The government is concerned that too public an American role in the anti-terrorism campaign could embarrass the government, presenting it as weak before a Yemeni public where mistrust of the United States runs high. It also could bring a backlash from Islamic conservatives who are a major pillar of support for President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Moreover, Yemeni officials appear worried American aid will come with pressure on Saleh to reform his rule in this unstable, divided nation.

The government is deeply sensitive over any hint of meddling in its internal affairs. But at the same time, it is being battered by multiple crises and needs assistance.

It has little control outside the capital, and heavily armed tribes hold sway over large parts of the mountainous, impoverished nation. Many tribes are disgruntled with Saleh, and some have allowed al-Qaida fighters to take refuge. On other fronts, it is battling Shiite rebels in the north and a revived separatist campaign in the once-independent south.

The U.S. Embassy reopened its doors following a two-day closure because of what Washington called an imminent threat of al-Qaida attack.

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