S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 SANAA 001790
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/22/2015
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER PINR PARMS MARR KDEM KMCA KMPI YM COUNTER TERRORISM
SUBJECT: PRIORITIES FOR WASHINGTON VISIT: SALEH NEEDS TO BE PART OF THE SOLUTION
REF: SANAA 564
Classified By: CDA Nabeel Khoury for reasons 1.5 b and d.
¶1. (S) Summary: Significant progress has been made in our
relationship with Yemen in the past four years. The ROYG has arrested and tried perpetrators of the USS Cole and VM Limburg attacks, shared GWOT-related information, collaborated in the capture of AQ suspects and helped uncover plots against U.S. and other western interests in Yemen. On the economic and political reform front, Yemen has conducted reasonably free and fair Parliamentary and local council elections, taken an active role in regional and international
democratic reform efforts, including BMENA and the Community of Democracies; backed IMF/WB sponsored economic reforms, and
committed to seeking MCC membership. Despite this progress, dealing with the ROYG can be frustrating and difficult. This is all the more true with regard to the crucial issues of fighting corruption and stopping the dangerous trade small arms and light weapons (SA/LW). Solidifying our relationship with Yemen requires progress on both fronts through firm demands and tangible inducements.
SA/LW: Live Up To Your Commitments
¶2. (S/NF) On March 12 President Saleh committed to discontinue issuing end-user certificates (EUCs) to Yemeni arms dealers and declared all old EUCs back to 1990 null and void. Interior Minister Alimi and Military Chief of Staff Qassemi confirmed receipt of written orders from the Presidency canceling old EUCs and directing MOD and MOI that all arms purchases henceforth were to be through ROYG
procurement officials only. We have some indications that Saleh is moving to reign in top Yemeni arms brokers. Other reports, however, reveal attempts by Yemeni dealers to conduct business as usual with supplier nations. We got Saleh’s attention when we stopped a Serbian arms shipment procured by a notorious arms dealer via an MOD issued EUC. We need to continue in this vein. (ref A).
¶3. (S/NF) Saleh has indicated to top advisors in the past that he believes he can pull the wool over the eyes of the USG. In the time leading up to his November trip, we must convince him that this is not the case by making clear that we are monitoring Yemeni SA/LW orders and shipments closely, and that a breach of the President’s promise will affect the tone of the visit and, ultimately, the nature of bilateral relations. Specific steps we can take on SA/LW in the months
leading up to the visit include: Stopping any illicit sales and shipments; continuing pressure on supplier nations not to sell SA/LW to Yemen; linking future USG military assistance to inventory controls and end-user monitoring; calling on Saleh to enforce UN restrictions on weapons trade to Somalia and Sudan; and, conducting joint Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIOs) with the Yemen Coast Guard (YCG).
Deliverables: Expanding Yemen Coast Guard and CSF-CTU
¶4. (S) In return for Saleh’s compliance, we should promise expanded military aid and cooperation. Our most successful CT programs to date, the training and equipping of the Yemen Coast Guard (YCG) and the Central Security Forces Counter Terrorism Unit (CSF-CTU), have been conducted in cooperation with the MOI. Among our deliverables should be continued and enhanced USG assistance to YCG and CSF-CTU via a long-term, sustainable training program funded though FMF. NAVCENT and CJTF HOA are prepared to conduct joint exercises and/or smuggling interdiction operations with the YCG. A joint ops center to monitor movements in the Arabia Sea and the Bab
al-Mandab should be part of that process.
¶5. (S) We have made clear to MOI USG intentions to link further equipment assistance for CSF-CTU with an inventory system designed to prevent the leakage of SA/LW to the gray market. A modern inventory system for all MOD stocks should be both a condition for and a promise of further cooperation and assistance.
Enhanced GWOT Intelligence Sharing and Cooperation
¶6. (S) President Saleh has logged some major CT gains and significantly improved security in Yemen since the post-9/11 forging of the U.S-Yemen GWOT partnership. Recent successes include: the round-up of an emerging al-Qa’ida cell with plans to target the U.S. Ambassador, prosecution and conviction of the USS Cole and M/V Limburg terrorists, and participating in the largest MANPADs destruction program in the region. However, there continue to be frequent and troubling lapses in the ROYG’s CT performance, including the release of extremists and failure to share information.
¶7. (S) Former regime elements tied to the insurgency in Iraq have operational freedom in Yemen. The ROYG must honor legal Iraqi arrest warrants and deny sanctuary to all Iraqi fugitives. For Yemen to be a reliable GWOT partner, it must: provide USG access to detained known or suspected terrorists; participating in the deportation of fugitives; and, enforcing anti-terrorist facilitation to close off the Jihadist
pipeline. The U.S. has programs active in Yemen that can assist the ROYG to improve its abilities to monitor its borders and track known or suspected terrorists. In addition to enhancements to the EXBS and PISCES programs, we are looking at providing fingerprinting and national identity card equipment and training to the MOI, and anti-terrorist financing training to the Yemen Central Bank.
Yemen: Leader in Regional Reform?
¶8. (C) The Yemen’s economy is flailing and serious reforms are needed to attract foreign investment. With dwindling oil reserves, a rapidly depleting water supply, and 3.5 percent anual population growth, Yemen is well behind the curve on crucial economic reforms. The USG is ready to help with MCC, MEPI and USAID assistance but Saleh has to show the political will necessary to move forward. Saleh has asked repeatedly for U.S. aid to compensate his losses in Saada. An anticipated /hoped for increase in ESP can be director to reconstruction efforts in the north.
Government By the Government, For the Government
¶9. (C) Rampant official corruption impedes foreign investment, economic growth, and comprehensive development. Corruption and greed are also closely related to Yemen,s dangerous SA/LW proliferation. MCC provides the opportunity to commit the ROYG to a serious plan to combat endemic corruption. Saleh’s feet must be held to the fire on what has thus far been mere lip service. MCC membership serves as both a carrot and stick in this regard.
¶10. (C) Saleh touts Yemen as a leader in regional reform and has committed to democratization. Domestically, however, he has run-out of reforms he can implement at no political cost to himself. Increasingly anxious about upcoming Presidential elections, and already preoccupied with succession, it is unlikely Saleh will allow a viable opposition candidate to challenge him in 2006. The visit is an opportunity to pressure Saleh not to amend the constitution so he may run again in 2013 by praising him for bringingt Yemen to the point where he can rely on the system in place to produce a legitimate successor. The inducement here might be a public show of support via a greater role in public fora such as the G-8.
¶11. (C) Comment: Progress on SA/LW, information and intelligence sharing, fighting corruption, and democratic reform is essential, even crucial, for U.S. and Yemeni interests. Saleh must be reassured of the tangible benefits from his partnership with the U.S., but must not be allowed to leave Washington thinking that he can maintain U.S. friendship with a business as usual approach to the above issues. End Comment.