S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 SANAA 003023
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/06/2014
TAGS: PREL PTER MARR PGOV KJUS PINR YM PARMS COUNTER TERRORISM
SUBJECT: YEMENI PRESIDENT SALEH WANTS WASHINGTON TRIP
Classified By: Ambassador Thomas C. Krajeski for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d ).
¶1. (C) Summary. President Saleh convoked Ambassador December
6 to request that he convey Saleh’s strong desire to visit Washington to personally congratulate President Bush on his reelection and meet with newly appointed senior officials. Citing important new developments in the region “that can only be discussed face to face,” Saleh said he also plans to raise U.S. – ROYG CT cooperation. Saleh also discussed USG military assistance, SA/LW in Yemen, and the status of pending security detainee releases. End Summary.
Saleh: I Must Meet the President Face to Face
¶2. (C) President Saleh emphasized his desire to be among the first foreign leaders to personally congratulate President Bush on his reelection, and said he needed to meet with Secretary of State designate Dr. Rice and other newly
appointed senior officials to raise new regional developments that can only be discussed “face to face.” Ambassador promised to convey Saleh’s message to the White House, cautioning that a visit could not be arranged before inauguration and all new cabinet posts had been filled and confirmed. Only then would we be able to discuss the possibility of a Saleh visit to D.C.
¶3. (S) True to form, Saleh launched into a list of what he believes the U.S. owes him. “Where is the money for the Army, and what about my spare (F-5) parts?” Saleh demanded. Ambassador promise to follow up on this matter. (Note: OMC reports difficulties in getting MOD to follow through with the necessary paperwork on parts and equipment in order to spend the 17 million USD in Yemen’s FMF account. End Note.)
¶4. (S) Pointing out that any meetings with senior U.S. officials would quickly turn to the subject of Yemen’s huge grey market in SA/LW, Ambassador told Saleh that Yemen needs to gain control over the huge flow of these weapons in and through the country. Washington is very concerned about this issue and ready to help the ROYG tackle it, added Ambassador. “I will do it!” Saleh exclaimed, insisting that he was
already “cracking down” on the SA/LWs market. The President pointed to the MANPADS buyback program, saying that he had made the hard and “right” decision, over MOD objections, to include in the buyback program all ROYG-recovered MANPADS, including those systems the MOD wanted to retain for its own arsenal.
Ramadan Releases: “We are Waiting for You”
¶5. (S) Saleh raised the 28 security detainees, meant to be released in the Ramadan amnesty, who the ROYG has agreed to continue to hold based on USG objections. Saleh told Ambassador that the 28 were arrested under suspicion of AQ membership, having returned to Yemen from Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan, but that after investigation there was no evidence they were involved in terrorist acts. “We are waiting for information from you,” said Saleh. Ambassador replied that we had already provided all the information currently available. The problem, said Ambassador, is continued ROYG refusal to exchange information. Ambassador reiterated that we have asked repeatedly for the evidence
that led the ROYG to conclude these 28 should be released. Surely there must be case files, transcripts of interviews, investigation notes, pressed Ambassador, yet the ROYG maintains it has no information on these suspects.
Hadi Dulqum: “The Saudis are Crazy for him”
¶6. (S) Saleh stuck to his line that Hadi Dulqum is just a “simple arms dealer.” The Saudis want Dulqum, said the President, “they are crazy for him. What do you expect?” he asked, “if we arrest every arms dealer in the country, we will have hundreds of them in prison.” The USG agrees with the Saudis, said Ambassador, adding that Dulqum’s connections with AQ are too extensive for him to be simply another Yemeni arms dealer. Saleh offered to conduct joint interrogations
of Dulqum with the USG and said he would instruct the PSO to share its files on Dulqum. (Note: This is the third time Saleh has made such a promise. The PSO continues to insist it has no information on Dulqum. End Note.)
¶7. (S) Comment: Saleh gave no indication that the 28 would be released soon, but he is clearly under considerable pressure
to do so. His acute awareness of the Saudi position on Dulqum, (which previously senior ROYG officials have dismissed as not credible) indicates the Saudis have approached him, directly or indirectly, on the matter.
¶8. (C) Comment Continued. Saleh wants to visit Washington and meet with President Bush and senior USG officials annually. To the extent we can offer bilateral meetings with senior officials here in Sanaa, elsewhere in the region, or even D.C., we should consider it, but an official visit to Washington so soon after Sea Island should wait until we have resolved to our satisfaction the prisoner release issue, and have renewed Yemeni commitment on counter-terrorism. End Comment.