Thousands march against Yemen’s leader
SANAA, Yemen — Tens of thousands of protesters Thursday staged unprecedented demonstrations against Yemen’s autocratic president, a key U.S. ally in battling Islamic militants, as unrest inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia spread further in the Arab world.
The West is particularly concerned about instability in Yemen, home of the terrorist network al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. U.S. counterterrorism officials are worried that Yemeni security forces will be more focused on protecting the government, allowing al-Qaida to take advantage of any diminished scrutiny.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in office for more than three decades, announced Wednesday he would not seek re-election in 2013 and would not seek to pass power to his son. Saleh’s pledge was seen as an attempt to defuse growing calls for his ouster.
At least 12 die in explosions in Turkish capital
ANKARA, Turkey — Two separate explosions in an industrial district of the Turkish capital killed at least 12 people on Thursday and injured dozens of others, authorities said.
A powerful explosion collapsed two stories of a factory, leaving at least six people dead and injuring 34 others, Interior Minister Besir Atalay said. Hours later, another explosion shook a paint workshop in the same industrial zone, killing six more people, said Ankara’s mayor Melih Gokcek.
The cause of the explosions was under investigation, authorities said. Gokcek, however, told CNN-Turk television that the factory blast was likely sparked by oxygen tanks. He did not give details.
Lawmakers warn administration of cuts in Iraq aid
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration needs to make a compelling case for investing billions more taxpayer dollars in Iraq as the nearly 8-year-old conflict recedes from the public’s mind and the remaining 50,000 U.S. troops leave by year’s end, top Senate Republicans and Democrats warned military and diplomatic officials on Thursday.
Amid fresh Republican promises to slash spending, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee cautioned U.S. Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey and Gen. Lloyd Austin, the U.S. commander, of the intense pressure to cut dollars for Iraq.
— From wire reports