Archive | Yemen Leaks

AMBASSADOR BENJAMIN DISCUSSES CT ASSISTANCE, AIRPORT SECURITY WITH SALEH

Posted on 28 December 2010 by hashimilion

S E C R E T SANAA 000221

NOFORN
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/ARP ANDREW MACDONALD, S/CT AMBASSADOR DANIEL
BENJAMIN, DS/ATA JOHN NASON, AND OBO ADAM NAMM
NSC FOR DPNSA BRENNAN
HQ USCENTCOM/CCCC-CIG FOR JSEATON
DHS/TSA FOR TOM WARRICK

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/02/2020
TAGS: PTER PREL PGOV PINR PINS MOPS MASS MCAP ASEC
EAIR, ABLD, SA, UK, YM
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR BENJAMIN DISCUSSES CT ASSISTANCE,
AIRPORT SECURITY WITH SALEH

Classified By: Ambassador Stephen A. Seche for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

¶1. (S/NF) Summary. During a 35-minute meeting on January
31, the Department’s Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism,
Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, congratulated President Saleh on
the success of the London meeting and counter-terrorism (CT)
operations the ROYG has undertaken in recent weeks against
al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) elements, and
described USG interest in increasing airport security and
sharing information on travelers in and out of Yemen. Saleh
agreed to the upcoming Transportation Security
Administration/Anti-Terrorism Assistance (TSA/ATA) visit,
requesting at the same time additional CT support. When
pressed by Ambassador Benjamin about Sa’ada, he indicated
that the ROYG had no intention of agreeing to a ceasefire at
this time. In a separate meeting, Foreign Minister Dr.
Abubakr al-Qirbi agreed on the success of the London meeting,
and suggested that the follow-up meeting in Riyadh would be
important for determining concrete steps. Senior ROYG
security officials expressed support for the Embassy’s
struggle to acquire land and a willingness to act on the
Embassy’s behalf. End Summary.

SALEH ON CT ASSISTANCE, AIRPORT SECURITY, AND SA’ADA
——————————————— ——-

¶2. (S/NF) In a January 31 meeting with President Saleh, the
Department’s Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism, Ambassador
Daniel Benjamin, congratulated Saleh on the success of the
London meeting and suggested that stability in Yemen can be
achieved only through a dual focus on security and
development. He commended Saleh on actions the ROYG has
taken in recent weeks against AQAP elements in Yemen and
assured Saleh that he could count on continued operational
support and intelligence sharing from the U.S. President
Saleh said he was satisfied with counter-terrorism (CT)
assistance to date and with Secretary Clinton’s speech at the
London Conference, but said he “would like to be more
satisfied in the future” and appealed for the acceleration of
additional support, specifically citing helicopters and
vehicles with IED-jamming devices. Describing Americans as
“hot-blooded and hasty when you need us,” but “cold-blooded
and British when we need you,” he asked for a “moderate blood
temperature” and measured approach. (Note: Also present were
Deputy Prime Minister for Defense and Security Rashad
al-Alimi, National Security Bureau Director Ali al-‘Anisi,
and Political Security Organization (PSO) Director Ghalib
Mutahir al-Gamish, with whom Benjamin met separately after
the conversation with the President. End Note.)

¶3. (S/NF) Ambassador Benjamin reiterated the USG desire to
ensure that no international terrorist attack originates
again from Yemen. He said the USG wants to help the ROYG
strengthen screening procedures at all of Yemen’s
international airports, and establish a mechanism for sharing
information on passengers traveling via air to and from Yemen
as well as foreign nationals who have come to Yemen to study
at language or religious institutions. When approached with
the upcoming Transportation Security
Administration/Anti-Terrorism Assistance (TSA/ATA) visit,
Saleh agreed to the idea but deferred to his Supreme Security
Committee (Alimi, et al) on the details. In the follow-on
meeting, Alimi and ‘Anisi both concurred with the upcoming
ATA/TSA visit and expressed support for increasing airport
security. ‘Anisi, however, had reservations about sharing
information on foreign students in Yemen, and complained that
the USG request was too broad. (Comment: According to GRPO
reporting, the ROYG is willing to share information with the
USG on American students in Yemen and would likewise share
information with other embassies about their nationals.
While Western governments would presumably share information
among themselves, this system would still leave intelligence
gaps about non-Western countries such as Nigeria. End
Comment.)

¶4. (S/NF) Citing Saudi Arabia’s decision to suspend its
military operations in Sa’ada and Abdul Malik al-Houthi’s
public acceptance of the ROYG’s conditions for a ceasefire,
Ambassador Benjamin asked Saleh if he saw an end to the
fighting. Saleh dismissed these points, arguing that the
Saudis gave a ceasefire ultimatum to the Houthis, and will
resume fighting in two weeks if the ceasefire is unfulfilled.
He called the Houthis “liars” and declared that they would
violate the six conditions of the ceasefire. He indicated
that the ROYG had no intention of agreeing to a ceasefire at
this time.

¶5. (S/NF) In a visit to Yemen Special Operation Forces
(YSOF) Headquarters, Ambassador Benjamin was treated to a
display of military equipment and briefed by YSOF Chief of
Staff Brigadier General Ahmad Dahan on YSOF activities.
Ambassador Benjamin emphasized common security interests and
congratulated Yemeni forces for their role in recent
operations. Dahan reiterated the request for helicopters and
asked for communications systems and additional training
courses. He lauded Yemeni operations as having a great effect
on AQAP elements, and indicated that the operations were
possible only due to the exchange of intelligence.

FM QIRBI LOOKING FORWARD TO RIYADH
———————————-

¶6. (S/NF) In a separate meeting, Foreign Minister Dr. Abu
Bakr al-Qirbi agreed the London Conference was a success and
expressed hope that the February follow-up meeting in Riyadh
would help determine concrete steps to move forward. Qirbi
agreed that a smaller group, focusing on Gulf Cooperation
Council (GCC) member countries, rather than a broader donor
group, would be more constructive. Qirbi said that the ROYG
wanted to focus on the Top Ten Economic Reform Priorities
over the course of the next year, but would need donor
assistance to accomplish these goals. He expressed support
for discussion at the GCC-hosted meeting of funding for an
extremist rehabilitation center, indicating that an
educational institute with a long-term plan would do much to
counter radicalization and address issues of poverty and
unemployment, particularly in areas where AQAP has a hold.
Qirbi and other ROYG officials expressed support for US
intervention with GCC member countries in an attempt to gain
financial support for a rehabilitation center as an
expression of regional support for Yemen’s stability.

EMBASSY LAND DISPUTE
——————–

¶7. (C) The Supreme Security Committee was familiar with the
Embassy’s struggle to acquire land, and said they were
willing to act on the Embassy’s behalf. Foreign Minister
Qirbi said that he had been in communication with Minister of
Religious Endowments Judge Hamoud Hitar, who indicated the
ROYG’s readiness for the purchase and resolution of a dispute
over ownership. Alimi said that Deputy Foreign Minister
Mohyadeen al-Dhabi was following up and had secured the full
cooperation of the Ministry of Religious Endowments. Alimi
encouraged Ambassador Seche to sign the contract for the
land, professing that he would personally guarantee the
investment. (Comment: In a follow-on conversation on
February 3, Alimi repeated his assurance to the Ambassador
that the ROYG is prepared to provide for the security of the
proposed housing site both during and after construction. He
suggested that the Ambassador meet with ‘Anisi, who President
Saleh has charged with overseeing the process, to discuss
final details of the deal, including our timeframe for
beginning construction. The Ambassador will try to see
‘Anisi next week for this purpose. End Comment.)
SECHE

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SALEH STICKS TO HIS CT GUNS, BUT OFFERS A WAY OUT TO AQAP RANK AND FILE

Posted on 28 December 2010 by hashimilion

S E C R E T SANAA 000045

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/ARP AMACDONALD AND OPS CENTER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/11/2020
TAGS: PTER PGOV YM
SUBJECT: SALEH STICKS TO HIS CT GUNS, BUT OFFERS A WAY OUT
TO AQAP RANK AND FILE

REF: A. SANAA 0014
¶B. 09 SANAA 1299

Classified By: Ambassador Stephen Seche for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

¶1. (S) SUMMARY. After several successful counter-terrorism
operations aimed at uprooting an entrenched al-Qaeda in the
Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), President Saleh announced on
January 9 that he was willing to negotiate with AQAP members
who renounced violence, signaling a return to one of the
tactics Saleh has used previously to control the wide
spectrum of Islamic extremists in Yemen. With a variety of
domestic actors ) from conservative clerics to the political
opposition and the tribes – protesting the ROYG’s recent
strikes against AQAP, Saleh is feeling pressure to shore up
his domestic political base by offering the possibility of a
softer approach to AQAP’s lower-ranking membership. He has
not, however, shied away from his commitment to go after
al-Qaeda’s top leadership, which he understands is unlikely
to either renounce terrorism or agree to negotiate with the
ROYG, especially after a series of sweeping CT operations in
December and January. END SUMMARY.

¶2. (S) During a January 9 interview with Abu Dhabi TV,
President Saleh said that while he was willing to negotiate
with members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) who
were willing to renounce violence, he would continue to
pursue to the best of his abilities those who continued to
engage in terrorism. “Dialogue is the best way ) even with
al-Qaeda, if they set aside their weapons and return to
reason,” he said. Official news outlets, including 26
September, al-Jamhurriya, and al-Mutamar, reprinted the
complete text of the interview on January 10, signaling the
government’s official endorsement of the president’s comment.
(Note: The interview echoes his January 1 editorial in
official al-Thawra newspaper, in which he called for the
Houthis and AQAP to renounce violence and embrace dialogue
with the government as well as his December 14 call for a
National Dialogue to include a variety of societal actors
(Ref A). End Note.)

¶3. (S) xxxxx told PolOff on January 11 he was surprised
at the president’s openness in offering to talk to members of
al-Qaeda, but that the ROYG has a history of dialogue through
the rehabilitation program for “reformed” extremists. (Note:
In the past, Minister of Religious Endowments Judge Hamoud
Hitar ran a now-defunct rehabilitation program for religious
extremists based on dialogue. End Note.) Saleh is known for
negotiating with his domestic opponents, including al-Qaeda.
For years, he has negotiated with, exploited, bribed and
cajoled Islamic extremists in Yemen for his own political
gain (Ref B). Even officials at the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs (MFA), including Head of the North America Department
Adil al-Sunaini, acknowledged that negotiating with AQAP is
an “old government policy.” “Our good president says things
to play the old game and keep everyone under his thumb,”xxxxx
told PolOff on January
¶11. (Comment: Despite a history of negotiating with
al-Qaeda, Saleh’s current offer of dialogue to AQAP members
who renounce violence is unlikely to apply to the group’s
hardened leadership. Instead, the president is likely
appealing to his religious base by offering an “out” to the
organization’s rank and file, who, after a series of punitive
operations against AQAP in December and January, might be
looking for just such an opportunity. End Comment.)

¶4. (S) Saleh’s remarks come after three weeks of public
criticism of the ROYG’s close CT cooperation with the U.S. –
and specifically a December 17 airstrike in Abyan governorate
– from a variety of domestic actors, including religious
clerics, tribal leaders and the political opposition. One of
the most significant challenges has come from the
conservative religious establisment. In a January 8 Friday
sermon, conservative Salafi cleric and powerful Islah member
Abdulmajid al-Zindani railed against Yemen’s CT cooperation
with the U.S., accusing it of wanting to “occupy” Yemen,
according to local press reports. Dubai-based al-Arabiya
reported on January 11 that influential Aden-based Salafi
cleric Ali Mohammed Umar said his followers would fight with
AQAP against any American intervention in Yemen. “The
president’s two pillars of support are the military and the
Salafis. These comments were for the Salafis,” xxxxx said.
xxxxx,
told PolOff on January 11, “Do not give these remarks too
much care. It is just a media statement.” xxxxx pointed out
that the remarks, made in Arabic on a Middle Eastern
satellite TV channel, were intended for domestic – not

Western – consumption. xxxxx, told EmbOff on January 11 thatxxxxx
on the president’s remarks
because they were “not to be taken seriously.”

Comment
——-

¶5. (S) While Saleh’s remarks reflect a need to appease
certain domestic constituencies upset by close cooperation
with the U.S. against AQAP, he has not given any indications
of shying away from future operations against AQAP
leadership. In the same interview, Saleh said that
terrorists are a “danger not just to Yemen,s security but to
international security, especially al-Qaeda.” While the
president likes to keep all options on the table and never
writes off the possibility of negotiations with any political
opponent, his current offer is likely to apply to AQAP’s rank
and file – not its hardened, isolated and hunted leadership.
In Yemen, especially, actions speak louder than words, and
Saleh’s actions have not yet wavered in uprooting al-Qaeda.
End comment.
Seche

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GENERAL PETRAEUS’ MEETING WITH SALEH ON SECURITY ASSISTANCE, AQAP STRIKES

Posted on 28 December 2010 by hashimilion

S E C R E T SANAA 000004

NOFORN

DEPT FOR NEA/FO AND NEA/ARP
NSC FOR DPNSA BRENNAN
HQ USCENTCOM/CCCC-CIG FOR JSEATON

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/04/2019
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER PINR PINS MOPS MASS MCAP SA
AE, UK, ER, DJ, QA, YM
SUBJECT: GENERAL PETRAEUS’ MEETING WITH SALEH ON SECURITY
ASSISTANCE, AQAP STRIKES

REF: 2009 SANAA 1430

Classified By: Ambassador Stephen A. Seche for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

¶1. (S/NF) SUMMARY: Commander of the U.S. Central Command
General David Petraeus congratulated President Saleh on
recent successful operations against AQAP, and informed him
that U.S. security assistance to the ROYG would increase to
USD 150 million in 2010, including USD 45 million to equip
and train a CT-focused aviation regiment under the Yemeni
Special Operations Forces. Saleh requested that the U.S.
provide 12 armed helicopters and train and equip three new
Republican Guard brigades. Saleh rejected the General’s
proposal to have USG personnel armed with direct-feed
intelligence present inside the area of CT operations, but
agreed to a have U.S. fixed-wing bombers circle outside
Yemeni territory ready to engage AQAP targets should
actionable intelligence become available. END SUMMARY.

SALEH: HELICOPTERS, HELICOPTERS, HELICOPTERS
——————————————–

¶2. (S/NF) CENTCOM Commander General David Petraeus,
accompanied by the Ambassador, CENTCOM aides, the Embassy
DATT, and EconOff note taker, congratulated President Saleh
on successful operations against AQAP during a January 2
meeting. The General told Saleh that he had requested USD
150 million in security assistance for 2010, a substantial
increase over the 2009 amount of USD 67 million. Also
present were Minister of Defense MG Muhammed Nasser Ahmad Ali
and Deputy Prime Minister for Defense and Security Affairs
Rashad al-Alimi. Raising a topic that he would manage to
insert into almost every item of discussion during the hour
and half-long meeting, Saleh requested that the U.S. provide
the ROYG with 12 armed helicopters. Possessing such
helicopters would allow the ROYG to take the lead in future
CT operations, “ease” the use of fighter jets and cruise
missiles against terrorist targets, and allow Yemeni Special
Operations Forces to capture terrorist suspects and identify
victims following strikes, according to Saleh. The U.S.
could convince Saudi Arabia and the UAE to supply six
helicopters each if the American “bureaucracy” prevented
quick approval, Saleh suggested. The General responded that
he had already considered the ROYG’s request for helicopters
and was in discussions with Saudi Arabia on the matter. “We
won’t use the helicopters in Sa’ada, I promise. Only against
al-Qaeda,” Saleh told General Petraeus.

¶3. (S/NF) Saleh agreed to General Patraeus’ proposal to
dedicate USD 45 million of 2010 security assistance funds to
help establish and train a YSOF aviation regiment, allowing
YSOF to focus on al-Qaeda targets and leaving Sa’ada air
operations to the Yemeni Air Force. Without giving much
detail, Saleh also requested that the U.S. equip and train
three new Republican Guard brigades, totaling 9,000 soldiers.
“Equipping these brigades would reflect upon our true
partnership,” Saleh said. The General urged Saleh to focus
first on the YSOF aviation regiment.

AQAP STRIKES: CONCERN FOR CIVILIAN CASUALTIES
———————————————

¶4. (S/NF) Saleh praised the December 17 and 24 strikes
against AQAP but said that “mistakes were made” in the
killing of civilians in Abyan. The General responded that
the only civilians killed were the wife and two children of
an AQAP operative at the site, prompting Saleh to plunge into
a lengthy and confusing aside with Deputy Prime Minister
Alimi and Minister of Defense Ali regarding the number of
terrorists versus civilians killed in the strike. (Comment:
Saleh’s conversation on the civilian casualties suggests he
has not been well briefed by his advisors on the strike in
Abyan, a site that the ROYG has been unable to access to
determine with any certainty the level of collateral damage.
End Comment.) AQAP leader Nassr al-Wahishi and extremist
cleric Anwar al-Awlaki may still be alive, Saleh said, but
the December strikes had already caused al-Qaeda operatives
to turn themselves in to authorities and residents in
affected areas to deny refuge to al-Qaeda. Saleh raised the
issue of the Saudi Government and Jawf governorate tribal
sheikh Amin al-Okimi, a subject that is being reported
through other channels.

SHIFTING AIRSTRIKE STRATEGIES
—————————–

¶5. (S/NF) President Obama has approved providing U.S.
intelligence in support of ROYG ground operations against
AQAP targets, General Petraeus informed Saleh. Saleh reacted
coolly, however, to the General’s proposal to place USG
personnel inside the area of operations armed with real-time,
direct feed intelligence from U.S. ISR platforms overhead.
“You cannot enter the operations area and you must stay in
the joint operations center,” Saleh responded. Any U.S.
casualties in strikes against AQAP would harm future efforts,
Saleh asserted. Saleh did not have any objection, however,
to General Petraeus’ proposal to move away from the use of
cruise missiles and instead have U.S. fixed-wing bombers
circle outside Yemeni territory, “out of sight,” and engage
AQAP targets when actionable intelligence became available.
Saleh lamented the use of cruise missiles that are “not very
accurate” and welcomed the use of aircraft-deployed
precision-guided bombs instead. “We’ll continue saying the
bombs are ours, not yours,” Saleh said, prompting Deputy
Prime Minister Alimi to joke that he had just “lied” by
telling Parliament that the bombs in Arhab, Abyan, and Shebwa
were American-made but deployed by the ROYG.

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT IN MIL-MIL RELATIONS
—————————————–

¶6. (S/NF) General Petraeus praised cooperation between the
Embassy and the NSB, YSOF, Yemeni Coast Guard (YCG), and
Counterterrorism Unit (CTU), but singled out relations with
the Yemeni Air Force as problematic. Only four out of 50
planned U.S. Special Operations Forces Command training
missions with the Yemeni Air Force had actually been executed
in the past year, he said. Saleh said he would personally
instruct Minister of Defense to improve the situation. The
General also urged Saleh to stop Yemeni Customs’ habit of
holding up Embassy cargo at the airport, including shipments
destined for the ROYG itself, such as equipment for the CTU.
Saleh laughed and made a vague pledge to have the customs
issue “taken care of.” Saleh complained that the ROYG had
not yet received the necessary training to operate 17 Iraqi
Light Armored Vehicle (ILAVs) provided by the USG in 2008,
saying that YSOF needed the training in order to use the
ILAVs for CT operations. The General said he would look into
having U.S. Special Operations Forces personnel conduct the
training.

¶7. (S/NF) Pointing to the ROYG’s problems in combating
rampant drug and arms smuggling, Saleh told General Petraeus
that U.S. maritime security assistance was insufficient to
cover Yemen’s nearly 2,000 km of coastline. “Why not have
Italy, Germany, Holland, Japan, Saudi, and the UAE each
provide two patrol boats?” Saleh suggested. The General told
Saleh that two fully-equipped 87-foot patrol boats destined
for the Yemeni Coast Guard were under construction and would
arrive in Yemen within a year. Saleh singled out smuggling
from Djibouti as particularly troublesome, claiming that the
ROYG had recently intercepted four containers of
Djibouti-origin TNT. “Tell (Djiboutian President) Ismail
Guelleh that I don’t care if he smuggles whiskey into Yemen
— provided it’s good whiskey ) but not drugs or weapons,”
Saleh joked. Saleh said that smugglers of all stripes are
bribing both Saudi and Yemeni border officials.

SALEH WELCOMES LONDON CONFERENCE
——————————–

¶8. (S/NF) Saleh told the General that he welcomed PM Gordon
Brown’s announcement of the London conference and said that
the cooperation on Yemen between the U.S., EU, Saudi Arabia,
and the UAE would be benefitial. Qatar should not be
involved, however, because “they work with Iran.” In this
regard, Saleh also identified Qatar as one of those nations
working “against Yemen,” along with Iran, Libya, and Eritrea.

¶9. (U) General Petraeus did not have an opportunity to clear
on this cable.

SECHE

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YEMENI TRIBAL LEADER: FOR SALEH, SAUDI INVOLVEMENT IN SA’ADA COMES NOT A MOMENT TOO SOON

Posted on 28 December 2010 by hashimilion

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SANAA 002279

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/ARP ANDREW MACDONALD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/28/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR SA IR YE
SUBJECT: YEMENI TRIBAL LEADER: FOR SALEH, SAUDI INVOLVEMENT
IN SA’ADA COMES NOT A MOMENT TOO SOON

REF: A. RIYADH 1617
¶B. SANAA 2227
¶C. SANAA 1617
¶D. SANAA 1611

Classified By: CDA Angie Bryan for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: President Saleh believes the Saudi
Government’s military actions in Sa’ada will alleviate
mounting domestic political pressure on him to demonstrate
progress against the Houthi rebels, according toxxxxx
with close personal ties to
Saleh and his inner circle. xxxxx told EconOff that Saleh
views Saudi involvement in the war, and the concomitant
increase in direct Saudi budget support to the ROYG, as an
incentive to prolong the ROYG’s campaign in Sa’ada. xxxxx
also claimed that members of the Saudi Special Office for
Yemen Affairs, in contrast to the Saudi Government’s official
support for the ROYG, are privately very skeptical of Saleh’s
claims regarding Iranian assistance for the Houthi rebels.
The long absence from Saudi Arabia of Crown Prince Sultan, a
Saleh skeptic who normally heads the Special Office, has
meant that the Yemen file has largely been in the hands of
King Abdullah, a firm supporter of Saleh, according to xxxxx
End summary.

Saleh relieved by saudi involvement, but still overwhelmed
——————————————— ————-

¶2. (C) In the past month, President Saleh has told a number
of his top advisors that continued direct Saudi involvement
in the Houthi conflict will alleviate domestic political
pressure on the ROYG to produce tangible gains against the
Houthis, according to xxxxx with close
personal ties to Saleh. Saleh also views continued Saudi
involvement as the key to keeping the tap of Saudi budget
support open (Saudi monetary support for ROYG military
operations will be reported septel). The greater financial
incentives attached to direct Saudi participation in the
conflict mean Saleh now has an incentive to prolong the
conflict rather than seek a mediated solution. (Comment:
xxxxx comments on Saleh’s thinking support similar accounts
from other Post contacts reported in REF B. xxxxx speaks
frequently with Saleh, xxxxx. The chummy relationship between
xxxxx that EconOff also attended. End
Comment.)

¶3. (C) Like other Saleh watchers (REF C), xxxxx characterizes
the multitude of threats facing Saleh as qualitatively
different and more threatening to the regime’s stability than
those during any other time in Yemen’s history. “Saleh is
overwhelmed, exhausted by the war, and more and more
intolerant of internal criticism. Saudi involvement comes at
just the right time for him” xxxxx said. Largely
unprecedented criticism of Saleh’s leadership within the
rarified circle of Saleh’s closest advisors has increased in
recent months, even including longtime Saleh loyalists such
as Office of the Presidency aides xxxxx, according to xxxxx
These names add to the growing chorus of Saleh loyalists that have shed their
traditional aversion to disparaging the man they call “The
Boss” (REF D).

Saudis divided on confidence in saleh’s sa’ada claims
——————————————— ——–

¶4. (C) Members of the Saudi Government’s Special Office for
Yemen Affairs, a committee normally headed by Crown Prince
Sultan, are privately skeptical of Saleh’s claims of Iranian
involvement and of his desire to regionalize the Sa’ada
conflict, according to xxxxx told
EconOff on December 14 xxxxx that Saleh was providing false or exaggerated
information on Iranian assistance to the Houthis in order to
enlist direct Saudi involvement and regionalize the conflict.
xxxxx said that xxxxx told him that “we know
Saleh is lying about Iran, but there’s nothing we can do
about it now.”

Sanaa 00002279 002 of 002

¶5. (C) The prolonged absence from Saudi Arabia of Special
Office chairman Crown Prince Sultan (REF A), who xxxxx claims
is also highly skeptical of Saleh, left the Yemen file in the
hands of King Abdullah, who has greater confidence in Saleh’s
motives and leadership abilities. Committee members have
kept their doubts about Saleh’s leadership abilities private
since the departure of Crown Prince Sultan, creating a vacuum
of Yemen policy advice in the Saudi Government that resulted
in the decision to intervene directly in the Houthi conflict,
xxxxx. King Abdullah was much more receptive to
Saleh’s entreaties for direct Saudi involvement than Crown
Prince Sultan ever would have been, xxxxx.

¶6. (C) RIYADH COMMENT: We agree with xxxxx observation that
Saudi support is enabling Saleh to weather increased domestic
political pressure and continue his campaign against the
Houthis. However, xxxxx assumption that King Abdullah’s
“greater confidence” in Saleh is driving this support may be
flawed. We have seen no evidence that the King has any
particular regard for Saleh beyond exasperation that borders
on disgust. Senior Saudi officials make no secret of their
distaste for Saleh, but see him as the “devil they know.”
Aware of his growing weakness, they view their support as
essential to keeping Yemen’s problems contained. Further,
contacts say Second Deputy PM and Minister of Interior Prince
Nayif, widely believed to advocate a tougher approach to the
Yemen problem, has been heavily involved in the Yemen file in
Sultan,s absence. Some suggest that the border actions —
while temporarily propping up Saleh — may be indicative of
Saudi plans to take a harder line towards Yemen in the longer
term. END RIYADH COMMENT.

¶7. (U) Embassy Riyadh has cleared this cable.
Bryan

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OYG ACKNOWLEDGES U.S. INTEL ASSISTANCE IN AQAP STRIKES, MAKES CASE BEFORE PARLIAMENT

Posted on 28 December 2010 by hashimilion

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SANAA 002274

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/ARP AMACDONALD
NSC OR AJOST

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/26/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER PINS MOPS PINR YM
SUBJECT: ROYG ACKNOWLEDGES U.S. INTEL ASSISTANCE IN AQAP
STRIKES, MAKES CASE BEFORE PARLIAMENT

REF: A. SANAA 2251
¶B. SANAA 2250

Classified By: CDA Angie Bryan for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Deputy Prime Minister for Defense and
Security Affairs Rashad al-Alimi for the first time publicly
acknowledged U.S. intelligence assistance in the December 17
strikes during a presentation to Parliament on December 23.
Preliminary reports from Post contacts indicate that Alimi’s
presentation, which included both a description of al-Qaeda’s
growing threat to Yemen going back to 1992 and an explanation
that the civilian casulaties were in fact AQAP family members
living in terrorist training camps, was well received by the
pro-government MPs in attendance. Opposition MPs largely
stayed away from the session because they have been
boycotting Parliament since early December due to an
unrelated dispute with the ROYG over parliamentary elections.
End summary.

Royg makes the case for aqap strikes before parliament
——————————————— ———

¶2. (SBU) After repeated calls in Parliament for the ROYG to
explain the December 17 AQAP strikes, Deputy Prime Minister
for Defense and Security Affairs Rashad al-Alimi described to
MPs the al-Qaeda threat in Yemen during a December 23
presentation. Alimi said that the strikes were carried out
“using intelligence aid from Saudi Arabia and the United
States of America in our fight against terrorism.” He pinned
the occurrence of civilian casualties squarely on AQAP’s
leadership, saying that “militants” had brought their own
family members to the training camps. Alimi’s presentation
before Parliament, which included a history of al-Qaeda’s
attacks on Yemeni targets since 1992 and a list of AQAP
operatives killed in the December 17 strikes, was open to the
press and received prominent coverage the following day in
official and independent media outlets. Most of the strikes’
harshest critics — members of the minority Joint Meeting
Parties (JMP) — did not attend the presentation due to an
ongoing boycott of Parliament since early December resulting
from a dispute with the ROYG over the last round of
parliamentary elections, according to opposition leader MP
Hamid al-Ahmar. The JMP did send one opposition member,
Islah Party MP Ali Ashal, from Abyan, to press Alimi on the
issue of civilian casualties.

¶3. (C) For days following the December 17 strikes, Post
contacts who supported the strikes lamented the ROYG’s
silence on the issue of civilian casualties. Alimi’s
presentation, which included satellite images and photographs
of the training camps, was generally well received by MPs
from the ruling General People’s Congress (GPC) party, many
of whom had previously expressed frustration with the
government’s tight hold on details of the strike. MP Nabil
Basha told Pol FSN that Alimi’s presentation was the subject
of a heated debate over the issue of civilian casulaties,
despite the majority GPC’s overall support for aggressive
action against al-Qaeda. On December 26, Parliament anounced
the formation of a 10-member fact-finding commission, chaired
by Deputy Speaker of Parliament Himyar al-Ahmar, to
investigate reports of civilian deaths, according to
government media.

¶4. (C) MPs pressed Alimi to answer why the strikes had not
been carried out earlier, what measures were in place to
limit collateral damage, and how best to compensate the
civilian victims in Abyan, according to a Finance Ministry
official who witnessed the session. “At long last, the ROYG
addressed the issue of so-called innocent civilians being
killed. Once it understood that these were training camps
and that civilians were relatives of al-Qaeda people,
Parliament respected the government’s actions,” xxxxx,
told EconOff.xxxxx, told EconOff that the
presentation impressed MPs and would go a long way in helping
future CT operations. “Why did the government wait so long
after the strikes to explain everything?” is a common refrain
heard among Post political contacts, referring to Alimi’s

Sanaa 00002274 002 of 002

presentation to Parliament.

Foreign minister asks u.s. To stay quiet on support role
——————————————— ———–

¶5. (C) Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi told the Charge on
December 23 that the U.S. should continue to refer inquiries
to the Yemeni Government, highlight the ROYG’s indigenous CT
capabilities, and stress that al-Qaeda represents a threat
not only to the West, but also to Yemen’s security. Qirbi
also attacked the opposition Islah party and the Southern
Movement for “speaking in defense of al-Qaeda” by
characterizing the strikes as targeting innocent civilians.
Bryan

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ROYG LOOKS AHEAD FOLLOWING CT OPERATIONS, BUT PERHAPS NOT FAR ENOUGH

Posted on 28 December 2010 by hashimilion

S E C R E T SANAA 002251

SIPDIS
NOFORN

DEPT FOR NEA/ARP AMACDONALD AND INR JYAPHE

EO 12958 DECL: 12/21/2019
TAGS PTER, MOPS, MASS, PGOV, PREL, YE
SUBJECT: ROYG LOOKS AHEAD FOLLOWING CT OPERATIONS, BUT
PERHAPS NOT FAR ENOUGH
REF: SANAA 02230

Classified By: Ambassador Stephen Seche for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

¶1. (S/NF) SUMMARY. The ROYG views the December 17 CT operations as a success and a benefit to Yemeni national interests, and appears not overly concerned about unauthorized leaks regarding the U.S. role and negative media attention to civilian deaths. ROYG officials continue to publicly maintain that the operation was conducted entirely by its forces, acknowledging U.S. support strictly in terms of intelligence sharing. Deputy Prime Minister Rashad al-Alimi told the Ambassador on December 20 that any evidence of greater U.S. involvement ) such as fragments of U.S. munitions found at the sites – could be explained away as equipment purchased from the U.S. While the ROYG has touted the operation as a victory in terms of the number of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) members killed or captured, it hasn’t yet decided how, or even if, it should begin to modify its public messaging to address criticism over collateral damage, or the likelihood that the extent of U.S. involvement may become impossible to deny. END SUMMARY.

¶2. (S/NF) In a December 20 meeting with the Ambassador, Deputy Prime Minister for Security and Defense Rashad al-Alimi said that the ROYG, including President Saleh himself, views the December 17 CT operations in Abyan and Arhab as a success, despite negative press reports (septel) and leaks to the U.S. press regarding a U.S. role in the operation. Alimi said he was joined by other ROYG officials in their positive view of the operation against al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and a desire for continued collaboration on CT operations. Referring to an internal ROYG meeting chaired by President Saleh on December 19, Alimi assured the Ambassador that Saleh wants these operations against AQAP to continue “non-stop until we eradicate this disease.”

¶3. (S/NF) Alimi told the Ambassador that Saleh was undisturbed by press reports citing U.S. officials asserting American involvement in the operations, saying that the ROYG “must maintain the status quo” with regard to the official denial of U.S. involvement in order to ensure additional “positive operations” against AQAP. Alimi seemed more concerned with the political opposition and Southern Movement’s use of the Abyan operation as an example of the government’s heavy-handed response to groups the ROYG deems a threat. The Ambassador cautioned Alimi that the ROYG may need to nuance its position regarding U.S. involvement in the event more evidence surfaces, complicating its ability to adhere to the official line that ROYG forces conducted the operations independently. Alimi appeared confident that any evidence of greater U.S. involvement ) such as U.S. munitions found at the sites – could be explained away as equipment purchased from the U.S. However, Alimi informed the Ambassador that senior ROYG officials continue to the discuss media strategy and the public posture of the ROYG.

NOT SO INNOCENT
—————

¶4. (S/NF) According to Alimi, the ROYG has recruited a number of local political and religious leaders to visit the ares affected by the air strikes in Abyan to explain o the people the need for the operation and the dnger that AQAP poses to all Yemenis. The Governr of Abyan was given YR 20 million (approximatel USD 100,000) to disburse to the families of those killed or wounded in the strikes in Maajala, where the AQAP training camp was located. Alimi said that the civilians who died were largely nomadic, Bedouin families who lived in tents near the AQAP training camp and were assisting AQAP with logistical support. Alimi said they were poor people selling food and supplies to the terrorists, but were nonetheless acting in collusion with the terrorists and benefitting financially from AQAP’s presence in the area. He assured the Ambassador that the Governor of Abyan visited the site after the operation and confirmed that there were no villages, houses, or civilian institutions that were damaged, only the training camp, and the encampments of the non-combatant Bedouin population.

COMMENT
——-

¶5. (S/NF) Given that local and international media will continue to look for evidence of a U.S. role in the December
17 strikes against AQAP, the ROYG must think seriously about its public posture and whether its strict adherence to assertions that the strikes were unilateral will undermine public support for legitimate and urgently needed CT operations, should evidence to the contrary surface. Thus far, the ROYG has deployed influential local leaders to the affected area in Abyan to explain the need for the strikes in an effort to quell potential unrest; however, it has not attempted to provide any context for the civilian casualties, which might help to counter overblown claims of ROYG disregard for the local population ) in this particular case, southerners. END COMMENT. SECHE

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YEMEN ABUZZ WITH TALK OF CT OPERATIONS; TTENTION SLOWLY TURNS TO U.S. ROLE

Posted on 28 December 2010 by hashimilion

SECRET SANAA 002250

SIPDIS

FOR NEA/ARP AMACDONALD AND INR JYAPHE
NSC FOR AJOST

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/21/2019
TAGS: PTER PGOV PREL MOPS MASS YM
SUBJECT: YEMEN ABUZZ WITH TALK OF CT OPERATIONS; TTENTION SLOWLY TURNS TO U.S. ROLE

Classified By: Ambassador Stephen Seche for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

¶1. (S) SUMMARY. Yemenis have talked of little else but the
counterterrorism operations against al-Qaeda in the Arabian
Peninsula since news broke of the pre-dawn raids on December
¶17. Official media and ROYG officials have focused on the
successful aspects of the operation, including an alleged 34
terrorists killed and 51 arrested. Independent and
opposition media as well as the opposition Joint Meeting
Parties and members of the Southern Movement have used the
operations ) specifically the deadly airstrikes in Abyan
governorate ) to criticize what they view as the ROYG’s
heavy-handed policies. After a series of stories on U.S.
involvement broke in the U.S. media in the days after the
strikes, local and pan-Arab media have begun to focus on this
aspect of the story. ROYG media reported the conversation
between President Obama and President Saleh and released an
official statement that there was no U.S. military
involvement in the raids. While President Saleh and the ROYG
seem determined to move forward with similar strikes in the
future (septel), still-nascent public support will depend on
the ROYG’s ability to effectively manage the evolving
coverage of the events. END SUMMARY.

Heavy media coverage along partisan lines
—————————————–

¶2. (C) The ROYG made swift work of announcing the preemptive
dawn strikes against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
in Sana’a and Abyan governorates on December 17. But ABC TV
news reports of U.S. intelligence and logistical assistance
to the ROYG were picked up on the same day by Yemen’s
opposition media, and were quickly followed by charges of
scores of civilian deaths due to the “joint” airstrikes in
Abyan by ROYG and U.S. forces. Opposition demonstrators and
media outlets, as well as members of Parliament, have called
for an investigation of the civilian deaths in Abyan due to
the airstrikes. The story, heavily reported in the
international press, of an extensive role by U.S.
counter-terrorism forces in assisting the ROYG will linger as
long as interest in the civilian deaths continues.

¶3. (C) Raids against AQAP at dawn on December 17 in Arhab (a
suburb of Sanaa) and a training camp located in a village in
Abyan’s al-Mahfad district were reported immediately by the
Ministry of Defense Web site 26sep.com and picked up by local
and international media by noon on December 17. Reports of
U.S. logistical and intelligence assistance to ROYG
counter-terrorism forces were reported on ABC TV later the
same day. That TV broadcast was swiftly reported on the
opposition Islah party’s Web site, al-Sahwa, repeating
assertions of U.S. assistance to the ROYG, and citing unnamed
eyewitnesses claiming that 18 children and 41 men and women
were among the civilians killed by airstrikes. Also on
December 17, al-Jazeera aired footage of civilian casualties
and quoted locals as saying that U.S. aircraft were sighted
on overflight surveillance on the eve of the airstrikes in
Abyan. The official media was slow to respond to rapid
coverage critical of the raids by opposition media and to
organized protests in the region, instead focusing its
initial reporting on AQAP leaders killed or captured in the
raids.

Official media defends strikes, denies u.s. Involvement
——————————————— ———-

¶4. (SBU) By December 18, the regional and international
media, led by the report in the New York Times that the U.S.
had given intelligence, firepower and other assistance to the
ROYG in their raids against AQAP, began to cover the question
of U.S. involvement. The sensationalist and often inaccurate
Almenpar.net, the Houthis’ official Web site, and Iran’s
PressTV.net both reported 63 people dead in the raids in
Abyan, including 28 children. On December 19, the ROYG went
on the offensive, reporting on the MOD’s Web site that
operations against AQAP militants were targeted to foil
suicide bombers planning attacks against Yemeni and foreign
installations, that the raids resulted in killing four
suicide bombers and arresting four others, and that the
attack on the training center in Abyan resulted in the deaths
of 24-30 AQAP members. Al-Jazeera, meanwhile, broadcast a
report on December 19 that the number killed in Abyan was
over 60, according to eyewitnesses, and that most of the
deaths were civilians. The satellite channel also showed
video of artillery shells with visible serial numbers and
claimed that “U.S. warplanes or cruise missiles probably
conducted the strike.” On December 21, official media

attempted to get the damaging story of civilian deaths off
the front pages by diverting focus to the war in Sa’ada.

Elites react with reserve, some praise
————————————–

¶5. (S) Gauging public opinion on the December 17 CT strikes
is difficult since the majority of Yemen’s population is
rural and no national polling systems exist. The political
elite as represented by Embassy contacts, however, have
generally reacted with reserve, and some have even offered
praise for “long-overdue” action. In an e-mail to EmbOffs,
xxxxx
congratulated the USG on the successful CT operations, which
he praised as necessary to rid Yemen of terrorist elements.
xxxxx, told PolOff that the strikes were necessary to bring
Abyan back from the edge of extremism. “Al-Qaeda travels
freely throughout Abyan and Shebwa, using their training
camps. They now number in the thousands in these areas,” he
said. Criticism among the elite classes has so far been
limited to loss of civilian life and largely avoided any
criticism of the U.S. xxxxx to PolOff on December
20, “We do not support religious, ideological or political
extremism, but to use military violence that kills innocents
on the pretext of pursuing criminals is wrong.” xxxxx often critical of ROYG
policies – told PolOff on December 18 that he perceived the
operations as successful, but wished the Arhab operation had
netted the “big fish,” AQAP Operational Commander Qassim
al-Rimi, which would have provided a better justification for
any civilian losses.

Opposition hits back, citing civilian deaths
——————————————–

¶6. (S) Members of the opposition Joint Meeting Parties
(JMP), Parliament and the Southern Movement have all used the
airstrikes in Abyan as a means to attack the ROYG for what
the oppositionists call heavy-handed policies. The strike in
Maajala in Abyan’s al-Mahfad district, which locals have
reported killed 49 “civilians” (including 17 women and 23
children), comes on the heels of a critical and widely read
Human Rights Watch report focused on the ROYG’s violent
suppression of political demonstrations in the southern
governorates released on December 15. (Note: Deputy Prime
Minister for Defense and Security Affairs Rashad al-Alimi
told the Ambassador that civilians killed in the airstrikes
were most likely poor Bedouin from the area providing
logistical support to the terrorists and AQAP family members.
End Note.) Non-stop al-Jazeera coverage of the aftermath of
attacks in Abyan has provided fuel for the opposition. On
December 20, Parliament, led by opposition Islah party member
from Abyan Ali al-Ashal, called Alimi and the Minister of
Defense to appear before the legislative body to discuss
reports of civilian deaths in Abyan.

¶7. (S) The JMP immediately seized on reports of civilian
deaths, using the December 17 airstrikes as an excuse not to
participate in President Saleh’s National Dialogue, set to
begin on December 26. The Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP)
called for the ROYG to compensate victims’ families and pay
for treatment of those wounded in the operations. Local
media reported that “thousands” protested in the perpetually
restive southern governorates of Lahj and Abyan, calling for
an investigation into the attacks. Rumors were rampant among
secessionists in southern Yemen that the attack did not
target an AQAP training camp, but rather a civilian
population. xxxxx the airstrikes in Abyan as another occasion to
promote the movement as a better CT partner for the U.S. than
the ROYG. He told PolOff on December 20, “The Saleh regime
is trying to mix up al-Qaeda with the movement. We’re
willing to cooperate with you to avoid killing innocent
people and kick out al-Qaeda.”

Royg frustrated, but willing to stay the course
——————————————— —

¶8. (S) The ROYG has weathered the storm of criticism ) most
of it from the usual suspects ) well, and has restated its
commitment to continue similar operations against AQAP in the
near future. Alimi, speaking for President Saleh, told the
Ambassador on December 20 that his government was determined
to keep hitting AQAP in cooperation with the U.S. (septel).

Political observers in Sana’a have suggested that President
Saleh received a significant morale boost from personal,
congratulatory phone calls from President Obama and Egyptian
President Hosni Mubarak the day of the strikes. A
weary-sounding xxxxx, “The attack is already causing the
government a headache because the JMP is using it as the
reason not to participate in the National Dialogue,” which
will include economic as well as political issues. However,
the ROYG ) often eager to use flack from the opposition as
an excuse not to move forward in controversial CT operations
) has indicated that it is willing to weather the most
recent criticism.

Comment
——-

¶9. (S) The December 17 operations against AQAP have proven a
success and served as a significant distraction in the local
media from the government’s protracted civil war in the north
of the country. In Sana’a at least, many Yemenis seem to
accept the necessity and inevitability of similar CT action
as al-Qaeda’s presence in Yemen’s lawless tribal governorates
has ballooned in recent months. The ROYG, however, must be
more proactive in countering inaccurate opposition stories
and AQAP propaganda regarding the loss of innocent lives in
the Abyan airstrikes, especially if future operations are
already in the works. While the U.S. has escaped the brunt
of criticism to date, continued leaks from Washington and
international media coverage of American involvement could
stir up anti-American resentment in Yemen and test the ROYG’s
professed commitment to going after AQAP. END COMMENT.
Seche

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YEMEN’S COUNTER TERRORISM UNIT STRETCHED THIN BY WAR AGAINST HOUTHIS

Posted on 28 December 2010 by hashimilion

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 SANAA 002230

SIPDIS
NOFORN

DEPT FOR NEA/ARP AMACDONALD AND INR JYAPHE

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/01/2019
TAGS: PTER MOPS PINS MASS PGOV YM
SUBJECT: YEMEN’S COUNTER TERRORISM UNIT STRETCHED THIN BY
WAR AGAINST HOUTHIS

REF: A. SANAA 01995
b. SANAA 02079
c. SANAA 01669

Classified By: Ambassador Stephen Seche for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

¶1. (S/NF) SUMMARY. As the sixth war against the Houthis
continues to squeeze Yemen’s conventional military, the ROYG
has looked to its U.S. and U.K.-funded and trained
counterterrorism forces to provide some relief to battered
army forces. The Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) – trained to
detect small terrorist cells and investigate and prevent
terror attacks on civilian targets – is a poor tactical
choice for use against a long-term domestic insurgency. The
ROYG, desperate to defeat the Houthis at any cost, has
largely ignored USG concerns regarding deployment of the CTU
to Sa’ada. The CTU has been unable to go after genuine
terrorist targets like al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula
(AQAP) while it has been tied down in Sa’ada. CTU
involvement in a ROYG operation against AQAP on the morning
of December 17 is a welcome return to its core mission,
although it remains to be seen if this was any more than a
one-off occurrence. END SUMMARY.

Signs of royg desperation in sa’ada
———————————–

¶2. (C) As the sixth war in Sa’ada, now in its fifth month,
drags on in a tit-for-tat struggle between ROYG military
forces and Houthi rebels, the ROYG has attempted to use its
elite CT forces to provide needed extra muscle.xxxxx,
told PolOff in late November that he felt his forces were
being pulled into the Sa’ada conflict because of the
perception that the CTU is made up of “super-men that can
solve any problem and defeat anybody.” (Note: CTU forces
were initially sent to Sa’ada in July to investigate the
kidnapping of a group of Western aid workers. Post assesses
that the CTU was drawn into the Houthi conflict in early
September. End Note.) Such a misperception of the CTU’s
capabilities and mission was hurting the unit, xxxxx added.
During the U.S.-Yemen Joint Staff Talks hosted in Sana’a
November 8-11, xxxxx publicly impressed upon Brigadier
General Ali Dahan of the Yemen Special Operations Forces
(YSOF), another elite military unit also involved in CT
operations, and other senior Ministry of Defense (MOD)
leadership the severity of the situation in Sa’ada and the
toll it was taking on the CTU. He told Dahan, “You may not
be feeling the hurt of this war, but the CTU is fighting in
Sa’ada and is taking casualties.” (COMMENT: xxxxx was angry
with Dahan for stating that the YSOF was “ready and available
for more training exercises with U.S. forces” while the CTU
was being deployed in Sa’ada. He believes the YSOF should be
doing more in Sa’ada, which would allow the CTU to return to
its primary mission. END COMMENT.)

¶3. (S/NF) Increasingly desperate to defeat the Houthis, the
ROYG continues to insist that fighting the Houthis is a
legitimate component of CT operations, thus justifying the
use of CTU forces in Sa’ada. The National Security Bureau’s
Colonel Akram al-Qassmi told PolOffs on December 9, “The war
against the Houthis is not a distraction from the CT fight.
It is the CT fight.” xxxxx Despite the injection
of CTU forces into the fight three months ago, the Sa’ada war
drags on and, according to CTU leadership, the CTU is taking
“heavy casualties” due to their lack of training for this
type of warfare. At the urging of CTU leadership, the
Supreme Security Council agreed to move all CTU forces (two
platoons) out of Sa’ada on December 9. xxxxx confirmed that
the MOI Regional Commander ordered elements of the CTU,
believed to be one platoon, to remain in Sa’ada until Sa’ada
City is cleared of Houthi fighters.

Ct operations constrained due to sa’ada war
——————————————-

¶4. (S/NF) Following the return of one platoon to Sana’a, the
CTU undertook its first CT operation against AQAP in four
months on the morning of December 17. However, according to
xxxxx deployment to Sa’ada has hurt the CTU’s readiness
capabilities. Ideally, the unit is primed for rapid response
to any CT threat in and around Sana’a within 10 minutes. The

Sanaa 00002230 002 of 002

CTU is broken into four platoons which rotate every two
weeks: one on leave, a second in training, a third on
standby, and a fourth as a Quick Reaction Force (QRF). With
one platoon in Sa’ada, and another on active duty in Sana’a,
the CTU has no surge capacity. xxxxx said that the CTU’s
training and operational cycle has been disrupted by the
Sa’ada war. “Since August, the QRF has been in Sa’ada,
taking heavy casualties because they have been engaged in
heavy fighting. We have only had a chance to send a relief
team twice since the latest conflict started.” He said that
the use of USG-provided armored vehicles and humvees has
“been fundamental in preventing casualties.” (NOTE: Post has
repeatedly questioned ROYG use of U.S. military equipment and
U.S.-trained forces intended to combat AQAP in the war
against the Houthi rebels. END NOTE.)

¶5. (S/NF) The CTU was established just six years ago at the
urging of the USG and has received substantial funding and
training from U.S. special operations forces and British
conventional army trainers. Their training has focused on
detecting and neutralizing the AQAP threat, not fighting a
long-term, domestic insurgency. In particular, the CTU is
predominantly trained for CT “direct action missions” in
which they isolate an AQAP cell and capture its members based
on specific intelligence. Referring to the guerilla warfare
tactics the Houthis have been using against traditional ROYG
military forces, xxxxx U.S. training in
“unconventional warfare” and tactics used by the U.S. forces
in “asymmetric warfare” of the type encountered in the
mountains of Afghanistan, suggesting the CTU expects to
continue to use its forces in Sa’ada.

Comment
——-

¶6. (S/NF) Bogged down in a seemingly unwinnable war that
pits conventional forces against determined rebels, the ROYG
has resorted to using its specialized CT units. Untrained to
fight this type of conflict, the overstretched CTU has
reportedly sustained significant casualties, missed training
opportunities and been derailed from its principal mission:
to combat AQAP. While U.S. concerns over diversion of troops
and equipment have been acknowledged, they have clearly not
resulted in a significant change of ROYG focus from the
Houthis to AQAP. CTU deployment to Sa’ada, while a
distraction, is not a crushing blow to all potential CT
activities, as demonstrated by the December 17 CT operation.
However, it remains to be seen if this indicates a balancing
of priorities between the Houthi conflict and AQAP, or if it
is simply a momentary return to the CTU’s primary mission.
End comment.
Seche

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