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Cable reference id: #10SANAA4
“All of them, those in power, and those who want the power, would pamper us, if we agreed to overlook their crookedness by wilfully restricting our activities.” — “Refus Global“, Paul-Émile Borduas

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INFO LOG-00 EEB-00 AF-00 AID-00 ACQ-00 INL-00 DOTE-00 PERC-00 PDI-00 DS-00 EAP-00 EUR-00 OIGO-00 FAAE-00 FBIE-00 VCI-00 H-00 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 LAB-01 MOFM-00 MOF-00 M-00 VCIE-00 DCP-00 NSAE-00 ISN-00 NIMA-00 MCC-00 PM-00 GIWI-00 SCT-00 ISNE-00 FMPC-00 SP-00 IRM-00 SSO-00 SS-00 NCTC-00 CBP-00 SCRS-00 PMB-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-00 SAS-00 FA-00 SWCI-00 SANA-00 /001W O 041333Z JAN 10 FM AMEMBASSY SANAA TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3474 INFO AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI IMMEDIATE AMEMBASSY ASMARA IMMEDIATE AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI IMMEDIATE AMEMBASSY DOHA IMMEDIATE AMEMBASSY LONDON IMMEDIATE AMEMBASSY RIYADH IMMEDIATE CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL IMMEDIATE CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE COMSOCCENT MACDILL AFB FL IMMEDIATE DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC IMMEDIATE FBI WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE NCTC WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE SECDEF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
Hide header 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 [External Political Relations], PGOV [Internal Governmental Affairs], PTER [Terrorists and Terrorism], PINR [Intelligence], PINS [National Security], MOPS [Military Operations], MASS [Military Assistance and Sales], MCAP [Military Capabilities], SA [Saudi Arabia], AE [United Arab Emirates], UK [United Kingdom], ER [Eritrea], DJ [Djibouti], QA [Qatar], YM [Yemen] 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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