Qaeda leader in Yemen calls for Islamic rule
Yemen's Qaeda leader supports south after violence
The leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula on Wednesday declared his support for the people of southern Yemen and called for Islamic rule in Yemen and vowed to retaliate for what he called the killing of civilians in clashes between police and locals.
"The time for the rule of Islam has come so that you could bask in the justice and tolerance it brings," Abu Basir Nasser al-Wahayshi said in a recording posted on an Islamist website.
"The injustice that befell you, God willing, will not pass without punishment. The killing of Muslims in the streets is a great crime that has no justification."
Wahayshi's remarks coincided with a rare call by the United States embassy in recent weeks for political parties to act to keep Yemen united.
People in the south, home to most of Yemen's oil facilities, have long complained that northerners have abused a unity agreement to grab their resources and discriminate against them.
The time for the rule of Islam has come so that you could bask in the justice and tolerance it brings
Abu Basir Nasser al-Wahayshi, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula
Violence in the south
Demonstrations over army pensions turned violent in Aden in 2007 and job protests in the south degenerated into riots last year. Some southern leaders have openly called for secession.
Three people were killed on Wednesday in a shootout between police and guards of al-Ayam newspaper, one of several newspapers the government has suspended and accused of seeking to divide the country, witnesses said.
The police were trying to arrest the editor of the publication over a case involving a house he owned in the capital Sanaa where a man had been killed, a Yemeni news website reported, citing Aden police officials.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh called on Yemenis earlier this month to hold talks to maintain national unity following a week of clashes in the south between the police and locals.
"As far as we are concerned, Ali Abdullah Saleh is an infidel and an agent ... and today he is using all forms of oppression with the pretext of preserving unity," said Wahayshi.
As far as we are concerned, Ali Abdullah Saleh is an infidel and an agent ... and today he is using all forms of oppression with the pretext of preserving unity
Insecurity in Yemen
Saleh, who took power in the former North Yemen in 1978 and has been president since the union with the south in 1990, has backed U.S. moves to crack down on al-Qaeda after the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. cities.
Yemen, the ancestral land of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, witnessed a number of attacks claimed by the organization in recent years against foreign missions, tourist sites and oil installations.
Neighboring Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, said it fears instability in Yemen could allow it to hold a dialogue to maintain unity in the troubled country, but told them that Western and regional powers oppose secessionist moves.
Insecurity in Yemen has affected international companies developing the oil and gas sector, while attacks on foreigners -- including kidnappings by disgruntled tribesmen -- have hit tourism.