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U.S. Maintains Mideast Military Presence Worth the RiskAired October 13, 2000 - 1:55 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. leaders tell us they know there are risks in maintaining a presence in the Middle East.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: So why does the United States place its men and women in uniform in potential danger? Here is CNN national correspondent Bob Franken.
BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For decades, Yemen has been a hornet's nest of violence, civil war, intrigue, and widespread hatred of the United States. But still the U.S. Navy decided to accept the danger and use Yemen's port of Aden as a port of call.
KENNETH STEIN, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Aden sits astride an important navigation lane, the navigation lane that allows the United States to move ships in and out of the Red Sea, through the Suez Canal and into the Mediterranean.
FRANKEN: The importance of that can be described in one word: oil. That's why the United States put such a massive presence in harm's way in the Middle East. Oil, without a secure supply, the world economy would wither. And the Middle East is the world's primary oil reservoir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take the oil.
FRANKEN: The United States, after all, organized a international war coalition when Iraq invaded Kuwait, oil rich Kuwait, and threatened oil-richer Saudi Arabia. And the West has been willing to stay in the face of devastating terrorism in the region. 1983, 241 Americans were killed at a U.S. Marine facility in Beirut, Lebanon. 1996, a truck bomb exploded outside the U.S. military's Khobar Towers housing complex in Dahran, Saudi Arabia. Nineteen Americans were killed, 515 wounded.
And in Yemen, violent attacks against Westerners and kidnapping have been a common occurrence. U.S. officials were well aware of the risks in Yemen. But several had the same comment: It goes with the territory.
WILLIAM COHEN, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: The United States is a global power with global responsibilities and as a result, we face global risks.
FRANKEN (on camera): The State Department as recently as February had issued a travel advisory warning of the dangers in Yemen and officials say U.S. government troops and installations were already on heightened alert. Still, they have to investigate, once again, how did this tragedy happen?
Bob Franken, CNN, Atlanta.
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