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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
03SANAA576
2003-03-22 14:20:00
SECRET
Embassy Sanaa
Cable title:  

TF1Z01: SANAA VIOLENT DEMONSTRATION 3/21

Tags:   ASEC  AMGT  PREL  PTER  CASC  YM  EAC  COUNTER  TERRORISM 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 SANAA 000576 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR NEA, NEA/ARP, NEA/EX, S/CT, CA, DS/DSS,
DS/IP/NEA, DS/DSS/ITA, DS/ICI/PII, CENTCOM FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/22/2013
TAGS: ASEC AMGT PREL PTER CASC YM EAC COUNTER TERRORISM
SUBJECT: TF1Z01: SANAA VIOLENT DEMONSTRATION 3/21
AFTERMATH; EAC MEETING 3/22

REF: A. SANAA 574

B. SANAA 573

Classified By: Ambassador Edmund J. Hull, for reasons 1.5 (b) and (d).

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 SANAA 000576

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR NEA, NEA/ARP, NEA/EX, S/CT, CA, DS/DSS,
DS/IP/NEA, DS/DSS/ITA, DS/ICI/PII, CENTCOM FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/22/2013
TAGS: ASEC AMGT PREL PTER CASC YM EAC COUNTER TERRORISM
SUBJECT: TF1Z01: SANAA VIOLENT DEMONSTRATION 3/21
AFTERMATH; EAC MEETING 3/22

REF: A. SANAA 574

B. SANAA 573

Classified By: Ambassador Edmund J. Hull, for reasons 1.5 (b) and (d).


1. (S/NF) Begin Summary: As of 1500 local March 22, no
demonstrations are occurring in Sanaa after the violent 3/21
demonstration caused numerous deaths and injuries of
civilians and police (reftels). Security has been further
augmented around the Embassy, with the addition of more
Yemeni security personnel and armored vehicles.

-- President Saleh issued a strong statement the evening of
3/21 condemning the violence and calling the demonstration
illegal. He also inserted a note of solidarity with the U.S.
on preventing terror while continuing to state opposition to
the war in Iraq, supporting Saleh's statement supports post's
expectation that the President is keen to prevent further
unauthorized demonstrations getting out of control.

-- At a 3/22 meeting with MOI Brigadier General Sunaidar, DCM
expressed appreciation for security provided during the
demonstration and condolences for Yemeni deaths and injuries.
Sunaidar said he would participate in questioning those
arrested, and noted that one detained instigator of the 3/21
demonstration is a leading figure in Yemeni's chapter of the
Iraqi Baath Party.

-- Post received further information early 3/22 about the
location of the Yemeni Ambassador's residence in Baghdad
after weeks of requests by the Embassy.

-- EAC met at 1400 to discuss the security situation. Key
offices and personnel represented at the meeting included:
AMB, DCM, POL/ECON, CONS, ADMIN, PD, RSO, ORCA, OMC, SOC
YEMEN, FPD and RMO. End Summary.

--------------
President Saleh's Strong Statement
--------------


2. (U) On Yemeni television and published prominently in
the government daily al-Thawra, President Saleh issued a

statement after his National Defense Council and Higher
Security Committee meeting calling the 3/21 demonstration
illegal and condemning the violence. He also said he would
not allow unauthorized demonstrations and combined sympathy
for the Iraqi and Palestinian peoples with the American
people after 9/11. Text of statement, as translated by FBIS
and Embassy, in paragraph 14.


3. (C) In a message from Saleh, senior Presidential Advisor
Mohamed Sudam told the Ambassador that opposition parties
were responsible for the violence at the demonstration.
Several parties, including the Iraqi Baathis, Nasserites and
al-Haq, were involved and a Baathi leader was the first to
speak at Tahrir Square. Sudam said that Islah party members
were also involved at the beginning of the demonstration, but
"faded away" long before the demonstration moved to the area
near the Embassy and turned violent. He also said the
General Prosecutor will investigate and prosecute those
responsible.

--------------
MinInterior Response
--------------


4. (C) DCM, accompanied by Consul and RSO, met with
Brigadier General Sunaidar, Office Director for the Minister
of Interior 3/22. Sunaidar said he will participate in
questioning those arrested in the demonstrations, starting
afternoon 3/22. They will focus initially on those who spoke
to and stirred up the crowd in order to get the demonstration
moving. Sunaidar indicated they do not have a full list yet
of those arrested, but one of them he identified as a leading
figure in Yemen's relatively small chapter of the Iraqi Baath
party. DCM passed Ambassador's thanks to the Minister and
appreciation for Saleh's statement. DCM inferred, in light
of President's remarks, that the authorities will be
anticipating any further unauthorized demonstrations, and
that they will be prepared to deal with them more quickly.
Sunaidar indicated he did not know of express orders to this
effect, but agreed that indeed it was likely the authorities
will move quickly to head off unauthorized demonstrators.
The list of American citizens in Yemen requested by the MOI
to provide better security was also discussed, and Sunaidar
requested the list in Arabic which Embassy will provide.


5. (C) Sunaidar said that the actions of the security
forces were their "duty" and they were prepared to do it
again. In terms of security enhancements, more personnel and
hardware have been provided and higher restrictions on
movement instituted. He also requested assistance from the
USG in training its riot police on more efficient tactics for
crowd control, including training for personnel and provision
of equipment.


6. (U) Below the President's statement in al-Thawra, an
article quoting a source from the Ministry of Interior was
published. Text of statement, as translated by Embassy, in
paragraph 15.

--------------
After-Midnight MFA Visit:
Finally Providing Baghdad Coordinates
--------------


7. (S/NF) After two months in DIA channels and more than
three weeks through MFA channels, MFA finally responded to
Embassy request for more precise information on the Yemeni
Ambassador's residence in Baghdad. While no one had the GPS
coordinates, the MFA sent someone who knew Baghdad well to
the Embassy at 0115 Saturday 3/22 to find the residence.
After poring over satellite photos for more than 45 minutes,
the location was pinpointed. More follow up will be
conducted if additional maps and photos are obtained.


8. (S/NF) The Yemeni Ambassador to Iraq was recalled and is
in Sanaa, although other Yemeni diplomats remain in the
Baghdad residence. Official Saba news agency reported 3/20
that the Yemeni embassy in Baghdad would remain open to
provide consular services and assistance to Yemenis wishing
to return home.

--------------
Embassy Standing Fast;
EAC Meeting 1400 local March 22
--------------


9. (S) Embassy personnel remained at StandFast and EAC
agreed to maintain StandFast at least through an EAC meeting
on March 23 to assess the situation. All was quiet during
the night, and watchstanders detected no untoward activity
around the perimeter. ORCA reported no new threats.


10. (S) EAC discussed in detail each tripwire that might
warrant a change in Embassy security posture. EAC agreed
that a few tripwires, including killings of Americans,
demonstrations not controlled by ROYG, mosque sermons
inciting anti-Americanism, serious Yemeni casualties in the
suppression of demonstrations and a U.S. attack on an Arab
country, bear close watch. EAC members concurred that no
tripwire has been crossed to date, and that possible
recurrence of violent demonstrations posed greatest present
risk of a wire being tripped. EAC consensus was not to
recommend a request for authorized departure at this time.

--------------
Media Reaction
--------------


11. (U) Official daily al-Thawra ran President Saleh's
statement and the MOI's statement prominently on the front
page. Reporting on the demonstration was placed on page
three and was factual and not inflammatory. The editorial
called for "national responsibility" to "confront any
attempts that might destabilize the internal front."
English-language newspaper Yemen Observer 3/22 did not report
on the demonstration, concentrating on Iraq and the upcoming
parliamentary elections.


12. (U) International television press, including CNN,
al-Jazeera and MBC, reported the demonstration and showed
footage of the 12-year old boy who was killed. In an
interview with its Sanaa-based correspondent, Al Jazeera said
that the security forces showed restraint in responding to
stonethrowers and small arms fire. International written
press reported widely on the violent Sanaa demonstrations,
although usually as a lead for a lengthier article on
demonstrations throughout the region and the world.


13. (C) CNN has run repeated ticker-line reports and other
accounts estimating demonstrators at 30,000. This is a huge
exaggeration of the 5-7,000 marchers and the 6-800 hard core
demonstrators who remained to clash with police once violence
began.

--------------
Text of ROYG Statements
--------------


14. (U) Text of President Saleh statement:

In the name of God, the most beneficent, the merciful. The
holding of this meeting, which includes members of members of
the National Defense Council and the Higher Security
Committee comes in the context of addressing ourselves to
today's incident which took place after Friday prayers. The
incident was accompanied by chaos. The demonstrators headed
for both the northern and Western region in the direction of
the U.S. embassy.

The demonstration, with much regret, resulted in the death of
a number of victims, a child and citizen, and 14 security
personnel, as well as nine civilians were injured.

We regret this painful incident. We are of the view that the
people of Yemen had expressed their views in open and clear
manner in the demonstrations they held last Saturday (15
March). The demonstrations were held in the capital, Sanaa,
provincial and some districts headquarters. The
demonstrations expressed the opinion of the people of Yemen
and their political stand, at the official (government),
people's and party levels.

We expressed our opinion of objecting to the war against
Iraq. We also expressed our view regarding what the Arab
nation of Palestine was facing, ranging from killings,
terrorism and cleansing.

We consider today's incident, as announced through reports by
the security organs, a violation of the law. As for today's
incident we consider it as a shortcoming and a disruption of
national security, despite the fact that government and
people's opinions are in agreement, contrary to other Arab
countries.

There are three considerations upon which we have expressed
our position. We expressed opposition to the war against
Iraq, we condemned the torture and terrorism of the people
of Palestine, and we have condemned the terrorist actions
which are directed against the United States and directed
against the nation of Yemen.

In this country, the constitution, law and order govern us.
Any demonstration by any political group in this country
should adhere to the law and seek permission. Any political
group has the right of expressing its opinion peacefully. But
if it happens that this is unlawful and foolish and if it
harms the security of the nation, it does not aid anyone
except the enemies of the nation and does not aid the
foundation of Yemen.

Regarding the terrible situation in Iraq, this is indeed
frightful and scary. However, we as Yemenis and as Arab
Muslims aren't the only ones that have been harmed or
suffered pain. The whole world is harmed by what has resulted
from this disaster.

We all generally object to the war against Iraq and what the
Palestinian people are facing. We all condemn terrorist
activities against the United States of America and against
our country and against the lands of the Arabs and the
Muslims and what has happened to the Palestinians. This
position is agreed upon, by all of us, even those who have
different views and different politics.

End of Text.


15. (U) Text of al-Thawra article quoting MOI source:

A well placed source in the Ministry of Interior told Saba
news agency that the massive demonstration resulted after
Friday prayers, did not have permission to conduct a
demonstration from the Ministry of Interior, thus breaking
the law. Furthermore, the security forces defended against
the demonstrations through the march that occurred through
the streets of the capital that approached the American
Embassy. The demonstrators were trying to take control of the
Embassy.

Some riotous elements among the demonstrators concealing arms
started to fire randomly, a behavior that prompted the
policemen to fire upward and disperse the crowd with tear gas
and water hoses.

The source added, "14 policemen were injured, three
critically, two demonstrators were killed and nine injured."
The source explained that security authorities managed to
hold some demonstrators suspected of firing their weapons,
committing vandalism acts on cars and other properties
belonging to citizens and they will be brought to court.

And at the end of his presentation, the source encouraged all
of the brotherly citizens to express their ideas peacefully
and far from the acts of hooliganism and to govern themselves
with the order and law that are in the interests of the
country.

End Text of article.
HULL