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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04SANAA2009
2004-08-21 10:01:00
SECRET
Embassy Sanaa
Cable title:  

YEMEN REQUESTS U.S. ROLE IN MANPADS BUY-BACK REMAIN SECRET

Tags:   PTER  PARM  PREL  PREF  YM  OVIP  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 02 SANAA 002009 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/18/2014
TAGS: PTER PARM PREL PREF YM OVID COUNTER TERRORISM
SUBJECT: YEMEN REQUESTS U.S. ROLE IN MANPADS BUY-BACK
REMAIN SECRET

REF: SANAA 1738

Classified By: Ambassador Krajeski for reasons 1.5 (b) and (d).

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 SANAA 002009

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/18/2014
TAGS: PTER PARM PREL PREF YM OVID COUNTER TERRORISM
SUBJECT: YEMEN REQUESTS U.S. ROLE IN MANPADS BUY-BACK
REMAIN SECRET

REF: SANAA 1738

Classified By: Ambassador Krajeski for reasons 1.5 (b) and (d).


1. (S) Summary. Citing potential backlash from the tribes,
price gouging by the merchants, and opposition from the
street, National Security Bureau Deputy Ammar Saleh asked
that any U.S. provided technical and financial assistance to
buy-back illicit Yemeni MANPADS be kept secret. Ammar also
shared information on ROYG procedures for collecting illicit
weapons, discussed current ROYG official stocks, and proposed
a joint plan to store MANPADS after collection and before
destruction. Ammar stressed that ROYG would not accept an
inspection of its own official MANPAD stock. End Summary.

--------------
The Case of the Missing MANPADS
--------------


2. (S) President Saleh's point-man on illicit MANPADS,
Ammar Saleh, met with DATT and Pol/Econ Chief on August 18.
Saleh discussed the on-going question of the missing 1000
plus MANPADS (Note: In July 2003 EmbOffs viewed 1100 MANPADS
recovered from the illegal market, compared to just 79 in a
July 2004 inspection. End Note). He explained that the
Ministry of Defense (MOD) distributed these systems to its
own forces, adding "they bought them, they own them, they can
do what they like with them." As for the 79 still in the
warehouse, Ammar said these would not be deployed to the army
but sold and destroyed as part of the tabled
buy-back.(Comment: We are not surprised by this largesse as
most of the 79 systems are obsolete. See Reftel. End Comment).

--------------
The Official Stock
--------------


3. (S/NF) As for a serialized current account of official
MANPADS stock, Ammar told us this information was "top
secret" adding, "Why would you want to know?" DATT suggested

SIPDIS
that our interest stemmed from the leakage of official Yemeni
MANPADS into the hands of al-Qa'ida terrorists in Kenya,
Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Saleh agreed that this must be
prevented in the future, claiming that these systems were
smuggled out of Yemen during the chaos of the 1994 civil war.
As for a good estimate of the number of illicit MANPADS in
Yemen,"Impossible!" says Ammar, "We just don't know."

--------------
Please Keep Your Assistance Secret
--------------


4. (S) Saleh requested that the role of the U.S. in
financing the proposed buy-back be kept secret. The arms
merchants, he said, will increase their prices if they know
that U.S. money is behind the program. As for the tribal
Sheikhs -- they may be willing to sell their MANPADS to the
ROYG, but not necessarily to the USG. The opposition Islah
party, he added, would use U.S. participation to rally public
opinion against the President.

-------------- --
The "Big Fish" How the ROYG conducts Buy-Backs
-------------- --


5. (S) Ammar produced a list of 29 names which he described
as the "big fish" Yemeni arms merchants. These individuals
collect illicit weapons of all types and then sell them to
the Ministry of Defense. In addition to MANPADS, the
merchants collect all types of SA/LW and explosives. As for
the price list, "Ammar showed us an old one in Arabic"
adding, "but in truth it depends on which dealers have the
best relationship with MOD officials."

--------------
To Avoid a Bait and Switch
--------------


6. (S) Ammar said he did not want MANPADS collected under the
new U.S.-funded buy-back to be stored in MOD warehouses,
where official and non-official stock may get "mixed-up."
Instead, he proposed that the NSB would buy land near Sanaa,
if the U.S. would be willing to build a storage facility
there -- the purpose being to properly store MANPADS until
they can be destroyed.

--------------
Comment
--------------


7. (S) The meeting with the NSB served as an initial
discussion of our expectations and a first go at coordinating
the A/S visit. A scenesetter will follow to suggest an
itinerary for the visit. We should consider Ammar's
no-inventory assertion as an opening not a final position,
although we can expect our proposal to be met with great
suspicion. We will also have to push back firmly on his
suggestion to rely on arms merchants in the buy-back process.
The idea is to wean the ROYG from old habits, not reinforce
them. End Comment.
KRAJESKI