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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
03SANAA593
2003-03-25 10:59:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Sanaa
Cable title:  

TF1Z01: SHIFT IN YEMEN MEDIA COVERAGE AND RISING

Tags:   ASEC  AMGT  PREL  PTER  CASC  YM  DOMESTIC  POLITICS 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SANAA 000593 

SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/23/2013
TAGS: ASEC AMGT PREL PTER CASC YM DOMESTIC POLITICS
SUBJECT: TF1Z01: SHIFT IN YEMEN MEDIA COVERAGE AND RISING
POPULAR ANGER AGAINST THE U.S.

REF: A. SANAA 00576

B. SANAA 00516

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

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SANAA 000593

SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/23/2013
TAGS: ASEC AMGT PREL PTER CASC YM DOMESTIC POLITICS
SUBJECT: TF1Z01: SHIFT IN YEMEN MEDIA COVERAGE AND RISING
POPULAR ANGER AGAINST THE U.S.

REF: A. SANAA 00576

B. SANAA 00516

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


1. (C) Summary: Yemen media coverage of Operation Iraq
Freedom and anti-war protests underwent a noticeable shift in
tone from low-key for several days to more sensationalist
since March 23. Initially, it appears that the ROYG
attempted to down-play media coverage to minimize public
outrage. However, criticism of Yemen's position by the Iraqi
Vice President on March 23 has apparently made the ROYG
anxious to counter accusations of agreeing with the war in
Iraq. Reports coming to us from a variety of sources
indicate that the level of anti-war sentiment among Yemenis
is on the rise. The risk of further protest or other violent
acts remains, although the ROYG has given emphatic assurance
that Amcits will be protected and further violent
demonstrations will not be tolerated. End Summary.

--------------
Low-Key Coverage until March 23
--------------


2. (U) Local Yemen media coverage gave only sterilized media
reports on the demonstrations that took place on March 21 and
the continuing war in Iraq until March 23. Newspapers and
local television and radio presented factual reports of
events, drawing heavily on independent news wire services
such as AP and Reuters for the content of their information.
Even newspapers that are notorious for printing
unsubstantiated and sensational information and are known to
be anti-American, such as Al-Shumu, reported mostly factual
information.


3. (U) During the demonstrations on March 21, Yemen radio and
television did not report on the event until later in the
evening when the two news outlets reported only factual
information (Ref A).

-------------- --------------

Shift in Media Coverage Spurred by Iraqi Statement
-------------- --------------


4. (U) On March 23, al-Jazeera and Yemeni television showed
a live, televised press conference by the Iraqi Vice
President. The Vice President spoke in anger about three
categories of Arab countries: those that overtly support the
aggressors, those that are indifferent and those that are
"failures." The "failure" category included several points
that clearly referred to Yemen without mentioning it
specifically. These included the suppression of public
opinion through the media, the "shooting of demonstrators"
and the forging of security committees to deal with the
situation.


5. (U) On March 24, in contrast to previous media reporting,
the Yemen Times, an independent and usually pro-American
newspaper, showed a large color photo of the slain boy on its
front page with a headline reading "IT'S WAR". Over 80
percent of the newspaper contains negatively slanted articles
and editorials regarding U.S. action in Iraq, the negative
effects of the war on the Yemen economy, worldwide negative
reaction, photos of private citizens injured in Iraq and
continued U.S. assistance to Israel.


6. (U) Al-Thawra, an official daily and usually moderate to
pro-American newspaper, on the afternoon of March 23, printed
photos of U.S. missiles and bombs used by U.S. led forces in
the war in Iraq. One headline carried the rejection to the
U.S. demand to expel Iraqi diplomats from Yemen. The March
24 edition carried an editorial that says "...The flagrant
aggression against Iraq...without any legitimate or legal
justification has made it obvious that its real motives do
not only target that country (Iraq) but all Arab nations are
a target."


7. (U) Yemen TV and radio have also elevated their tone
against the war in Iraq. These reports are much more
frequent.

--------------
Public Reaction Angry
--------------


8. (C) The ROYG efforts until the shift were overshadowed by
programming on al-Jazeera that continued to show violent
images of the war in Iraq and graphic images of the 3/21
demonstration. Al-Jazeera showed film footage of the father
carrying his slain son, both covered in blood. Post believes
that a large portion of the Yemeni population watches
al-Jazeera for its news information.


9. (C) We continue to hear Yemenis expressing disdain for
Saddam and acknowledging the expected benefit of his regime's
removal. At the same time, information received from several
sources indicates that popular opposition to the war is
hardening, and that the risk of violent protest or individual
violent acts remains significant. Al-Jazeera broadcast
images of coalition POWs and KIAs are likely contributing to
this trend. One individual said that many Yemenis are
discussing jihad but more on an individual basis because, in
his words, more individuals are contemplating acts of
violence against the U.S. This correlates with the "lone
wolf" scenario of possible terrorist attacks (Ref B).
HULL