wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
08SANAA458 2008-03-16 14:39:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Sanaa
Cable title:  


pdf how-to read a cable

DE RUEHYN #0458/01 0761439
R 161439Z MAR 08
					  C O N F I D E N T I A L SANAA 000458 




E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/15/2018

Classified By: Ambassador Stephen A. Seche for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)


1. (C) On a recent trip to the southern city of Aden, the
Ambassador's conversations with his interlocutors confirmed
our perception of a growing divide between the
Sana'a-controlled local government and Aden's citizens. The
most dire compared Yemen's south to an occupied territory,
while others were merely pessimistic about the upcoming 2009
Parliamentary elections. ROYG officials, on the other hand,
said that the south had been treated well and saw recent
unrest in terms of a need for increased respect for the rule
of law. While we did not sense the tension that other
visitors to the region have reported, we saw and heard ample
evidence that southern discontent runs deep and needs to be
addressed. End Summary.

Southern Discomfort


2. (C) During the Ambassador's March 9-11 trip to Aden,
opposition political party figures painted a bleak picture of
the mood in Yemen's south. Insaf Mayo, Islahi MP and Chief
of Islah's Aden Bureau, said the people of the south were "in
despair" and feel "betrayed" by the government in Sana'a. He
predicted that, without strong action by international
partners to protect democracy, "things will get even worse."
Ali al-Mahlati of the opposition Union of Popular Forces
party also placed a share of the responsibility for
difficulties faced by southerners at the international
doorstep. He asked the Ambassador: "Why do you act slowly?
... after two years ... after people being killed left and

3. (C) Hisham Bashraheel, Editor-in-Chief of the influential
independent - and openly critical of the ROYG - daily
Al-Ayyam, said that many in Aden see President Saleh's March
8 speech in Hudaydah as a declaration of war. In it, Saleh
said, "those who do not want this unity can go and drink from
the sea." Al-Ayyam General Manager Basha Bashraheel noted
that southerners, in the past, have always been wary of the
unknown, fearing a possible return to the conditions of the
socialist era but that by 2007 had become unhappy enough to
say, "let's give the unknown a try."

4. (C) The strongest condemnation, however, was reserved for
the ROYG's reaction to 2007's peaceful public demonstrations.
Ali Munnasar, Chief of the Aden Bureau of the opposition
Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP), compared ROYG actions to those
of Israel in the Gaza Strip. Referring to Israeli actions he
said, "whenever there is oppression of peaceful
demonstrations and live ammunition is used against naked
chests, the government has gone down the wrong path. This
regime is going down the same wrong path." Mayo also
criticized the ROYG for killing people participating in
"legal and constitutional" demonstrations. (Note: A number
of people have been killed or injured by government forces
quelling what organizers insist were legal, peaceful
demonstrations. End Note.)

5. (C) Basha Bashraheel claimed that his family had warned
the President since 2006 that he needed to address the
concerns of the south and had counseled him to "let them
express their opinions and vent their anger." He further
predicted that southerners would lose patience before the
planned 2009 Parliamentary elections. When the Ambassador
asked what would happen when patience runs out, he replied
"assassinations of government officials ... government rule
by day and no rules at night ... attacks on gas fields ...
and all the increasing problems blamed by the government on

Government or Occupier?


6. (C) Munnasar, who is currently being pursued by the ROYG
on charges of organizing the 2007 demonstrations, compared
the current relationship between Aden and Sana's to that of
vassal state to its conqueror. Referring to the 1994 war he
said: "The fierce crimes of that war destroyed the beautiful,
willing unity. It was replaced by annexation of the south to
the north." Al-Mahlati said that there had never been a true
partnership between the north and south and then expounded a
litany of high officials in the Adeni and southern
governments who were all northerners. Al-Afif added that
these imposed leaders "were not even good northerners," but
rather, "corrupt ones."

7. (C) Nageeb Yabli, head of the Studies and Research

Division of the Aden Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told
the Ambassador that Adenis called Governor Ahmed al-Kholani
"Bremer," referring to the former head of the Coalition
Provisional Authority in Iraq. Yabli later reinforced the
allusion to the Saleh government as occupier. "Two years
ago, the President hosted a dinner," he told the Ambassador.
"He said to his (northern) guests, 'We gave you land. Why
aren't you building on it? We are here. We are not
leaving.' From this we see he is an occupier," concluded

2009 elections


8. (C) The Ambassador's interlocutors were pessimistic about
the prospect of free and fair Parliamentary elections in

2009. Munnasar told the Ambassador that, absent a resolution
of the ongoing crisis in the south, he did not believe that
the Parliamentary elections could take place on time. Mayo
said that no efforts had been made to repair the flawed
electoral system that favors the ruling party. He added that
the ruling party no longer believes in democracy or the
orderly transfer of power. Mohammed al-Afif of the Nasserite
Party complained that no elections in Yemen since 1997 had
been based on democracy as Americans know it. He further
complained that "99 percent of the election process is
controlled by the regime."

9. (C) Outside of the parties, Hisham Bashraheel commented
that his paper had urged the ROYG to start reforming the
electoral process at an early stage and not to wait until
"the new elections are coming." The ROYG, however, had
waited and now the process would be much harder. Basha
Bashraheel felt even more strongly that the upcoming
elections would not go well. When the Ambassador mentioned
the elections Basha muttered a single word: "disaster."

ROYG Officials Toe the Party Line


10. (C) When asked if he felt that Aden received good
treatment from the central government in Sana'a, Governor
al-Kohlani, a former Governor of Sana'a and a northerner,
said "we enjoy very responsive support that has helped to
solve many problems." When asked about his population's
suspicious view of rule from Sana'a, he said, "we work as one
unified land." Deputy Governor Abdul Karim Shaif went even
further, saying that the President pays particular attention
to the needs of the south for two reasons: 1) because the
region suffered so much under its previous government, and 2)
because he is keen that the citizens not feel repressed.

A Way Forward?


11. (C) When asked how the situation could be corrected, the
Bashraheels urged the formation of federal system and the
local election of governors. Al-Afif called for a national
conference that would allow for increased independence for
local councils. He added that the problems need to be
discussed by all parties in reference to the Yemeni
Constitution as amended in 1994 and the peace and accord
document presented before the 1994 civil war. For his part
the Governor endorsed an increased focus on the "rule of law."



12. (C) As expected, the Ambassador found Adenis, in general,
very unhappy with the ROYG. In spite of the strongly
negative tone of most of the meetings, however, emboffs did
not sense the tension that that other recent visitors have
reported. The interlocutors seemed more resigned than
anxious. Post saw no signs of Adenis taking to the streets,
but, considering the strong (and sometimes lethal) ROYG
response to previous demonstrations, this is not surprising.
Nevertheless, the comments of post's interlocutors confirmed
the perception that there is increasingly a rift between
Adenis and their Sana'a-controlled government. End Comment