A group of influential clerics in Yemen are threatening to declare jihad, or “holy war”, if foreign troops are drafted into the region to battle the spread of Al-Qaeda. “The edict is a clear warning to the United States as it plans to step up its military involvement in the country. The leaders said that a jihad would be called if foreign troops set up bases inside the country, or moved into its territorial waters. ‘If any party insists on aggression, or invades the country, then according to Islam, jihad becomes obligatory,’ said a statement signed by 150 clerics and read out at a news conference in Sanaa, the capital. The stark threat came as Yemeni security officials declared that the country was openly now at war with the terrorists, who are trying to carve out a haven in a country riven by rebellion, secessionism, poverty and tribal loyalties. With some tribes accused of sheltering al-Qaeda — many of whom are Yemeni tribesmen — a security source quoted by the defence ministry’s online newspaper called September 26, warned citizens against hiding any elements of al-Qaeda, and called on them to co-operate with the security apparatus.”