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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05SANAA1377
2005-05-25 14:19:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Sanaa
Cable title:  

AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES SALIF PORT YCG STATION WITH

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  PTER  MARR  PARM  ECON  YM  COM  ENERGY  MARITIME  SECURITY  COUNTER  TERRORISM 
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SANAA 001377 

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/23/2015
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER MARR PARM ECON YM ECON COM ENERGY MARITIME SECURITY COUNTER TERRORISM
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES SALIF PORT YCG STATION WITH
GOVERNOR OF HODEIDAH

Classified By: Ambassador Thomas C. Krajeski for reasons 1.4 b and d.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SANAA 001377

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/23/2015
TAGS: PREL PGOV PTER MARR PARM ECON YM ECON COM ENERGY MARITIME SECURITY COUNTER TERRORISM
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR DISCUSSES SALIF PORT YCG STATION WITH
GOVERNOR OF HODEIDAH

Classified By: Ambassador Thomas C. Krajeski for reasons 1.4 b and d.


1. (C) Summary. After touring Yemen Hunt's Safir oil
platform and the Yemen Coast Guard Command at nearby Salif
Port and hearing briefings from Hunt security and the YCG
Salif Port Commander, Ambassador raised the issue of maritime
security and the vulnerability of the Safir with the Governor
of Hodeidah. Ambassador pressed Governor Shamlan not to
interfere with the construction of the Salif YCG station at
Salif Port, currently stalled due to a commercial dispute.
Governor Shamlan, however, was insistent that this particular
site could not go to the YCG, offering instead other
locations at Salif considered non-viable by the Coast Guard.
Ambassador and the Governor also discussed Hodeidah's plans
for developing ports, fisheries and tourism in the
governorate. End Summary.

--------------
Controversy Over New YCG Station
--------------


2. (C) The Yemen Coast Guard (YCG), in consultation with USCG
Advisor Captain Robert Innes, selected a site in 2004 to
build a new YCG station at the Salif Port, in part to protect
the vulnerable Yemen Hunt Safir oil platform, probably the
most vulnerable high profile American target in the country.
Five months ago construction of the Salif YCG station was
voluntarily halted by the YCG due to a commercial dispute
between a powerful wheat importer and the Municipal Port
Authority.


3. (C) Wheat importer and prominent Hodeidah businessman
Fathi Fahim operates a flour mill and wheat storage facility
on the Salif Port adjacent to the area where the YCG began
construction. Fahim has a 25-year lease from the Port

Municipal Authority for the land where both his facilities
and the unfinished coast guard station are located. The
contract allows for the government to break the lease with
"proper and adequate" compensation. It appears Fahim
appealed to his old school friend Governor Shamlan to force a
halt to the YCG construction. According to the YCG Chief at
Salif, a financial arrangement had already been worked out in
the courts. According to Fahim, he has never received any
compensation from the government.

--------------
Safir Oil Platform
--------------


4. (C) Ambassador toured the Yemen Hunt Safer oil platform
with Hunt's Security Chief. The Safer is a stationary tanker
located 9 kilometers offshore and approximately 35 kilometers
north-northwest from Hodeidah Port. Built in 1976, the tanker
has not moved from its current spot in 18 years. A former
crude oil tanker, the Safir contains 600,000 barrels of crude
oil daily in a stationary single-hull, making it an
attractive and vulnerable target for terrorists. The nearest
Coast Guard station is currently located at Hodeidah port,
several hours away. The planned YCG station at Salif Port is
within 13 kilometers of the Safir.

--------------
Salif Port: Why This Location?
--------------


5. (C) Ambassador toured the disputed plot of land, measuring
7 meters by 12 meters and edged by a protective cove on the
southwestern point of the Salif port area. All told, the
entire station footprint is approximately the size of a
moderately priced residential home. According to Captain
Innes and the YCG, this site is the only location within 50
nautical miles of the Safer that meets all three of the
following criteria: access to water, electricity and roads;
year-round protections from heavy monsoon weather; and,
within 20 minutes response time of the high value asset.

--------------
The Governor Has a 'Master Plan'
--------------


6. (C) Ambassador met for the first time with Hodeidah
Governor Mohammed Saleh Shamlan, a member of President
Saleh's Sanhan Tribe. In addition to discussing a range of
development projects in the governorate, Ambassador raised
the issue of the disputed Salif YCG station's construction.
Ambassador stressed that the USG wanted to see Hodeidah
Governorate develop its ports, tourism and fishing
industries, and that the region's economic prosperity
ultimately depended on port security and the safety of the
Safir platform, through which 30 percent of Yemen's oil
wealth flows each year. Ambassador explained that the focus
of his visit was on the security of the Safir and Salif Port
and asked the Governor for his thoughts on how to move
forward with the YCG station.


7. (C) Shamlan thanked Ambassador for USG cooperation with
the YCG, saying he had noticed the forces' increased presence
and capabilities due to U.S. assistance. The Governor said
he understood the importance of building a Coast Guard
station in the area near the Safir, either on the Island of
Ras Issa or at Salif Port, but was insistent that the chosen
spot conflicted with "our master plan." According to the
Governor, there is a master plan for developing Salif Port
that includes construction of an airport, port enhancements,
and security and customs facilities. (Note: On May 24 Fahim
himself gave the Ambassador a different reason, saying that
he could not give up his claim to the disputed plot as he had
plans to build a sugar silo there. End Note).

8. (C) "We have no objection to a YCG station at Salif," said
the Governor, but was adamant that the current location was a
non-starter. Shamlan invited Ambassador to return to the
area, master plan in hand, and choose any other location for
the YCG. Ambassador pressed that the YCG and MOI had
determined there was no viable alternative, but the Governor
would not budge. (Note: According to USCG Advisor the
Governor has actually offered the YCG a piece of land some 3
kilometers inland. The YCG believes that no master plan
exists, even on paper. End Note). "It is not my intention
to make things inconvenient for the YCG," continued Shamlan,
reiterating that he supported the YCG's efforts to enhance
maritime security in the area. Ambassador replied that an
attack on the port would be "more inconvenient," and urged
that the YCG mission deserved to have the first choice for
its location.


9. (C) Comment. It is clear that the Governor has no
intention of backing down on the YCG's selected site for its
station at Salif, and in fact has little incentive to do so.
Shamlan in known to be close to powerful Hodeidah business
interests, such as Fahim, and likely significantly
supplements his income through these relationships. In
addition, the Governor is not likely to pave the way for an
expansion of the central government's power by handing the
Ministry of Interior's YCG a prime spot in his own backyard.
Although he may be sincere in his offer of another location
at Salif, YCG sources believe that due to income from the
extensive smuggling of consumer goods into Salif Port, the
Governor has no intention of allowing the YCG to set up camp
anywhere near the port facilities. End Comment.
Krajeski