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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09SANAA430 2009-03-08 14:31:00 SECRET Embassy Sanaa
Cable title:  

A VIEW FROM INSIDE THE SOUTHERN MOVEMENT

Tags:   PGOV PNAT PTER YM 
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RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHYN #0430/01 0671431
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 081431Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY SANAA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1380
INFO RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI 1047
RUEHDO/AMEMBASSY DOHA 0414
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0247
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 1611
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
					  S E C R E T SANAA 000430 

SIPDIS

FOR NEA/ARP: AMACDONALD AND INR: SMOFFAT

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/08/2019
TAGS: PGOV PNAT PTER YM
SUBJECT: A VIEW FROM INSIDE THE SOUTHERN MOVEMENT

REF: SANAA 0306

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



1. (S) SUMMARY. Moving in an increasingly secessionist
direction, the leaders of the Southern Movement continue to
build organizational capacity while beginning to think about
confrontational strategies, according to former southern
General Mohamed Saleh Tammah. The movement, which looks to
southern expatriates for fiscal support and high-profile
leadership, walks a fine line in its relationships with the
Houthis and al-Qaeda, Yemen's other major elements of
internal instability. Although Tammah seems credible, his
motives bear scrutiny. END SUMMARY.

ORGANIZATION AND TACTICS


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





2. (S) In a March 3 meeting with PolOff, General Mohamed
Saleh Tammah, vice president of Hassan Ba'um's National
Conference of the Sons of the South (NCSS), provided the most
detailed explanation to date of the internal development and
offensive tactics of the Southern Movement (reftel). (Note:
The NCSS, which seeks to unite the movement's various
factions under one umbrella, has about 350 core members,
according to Tammah. End Note.) Internally, the movement's
leaders have worked to establish a "shadow government" ready
to take the reins should the south achieve independence.
Externally, the movement's most successful operation to date
was the January closure of roads into Lahj, Abyan and Aden
governorates, which, according to Tammah, induced the ROYG to
release detainees held in connection to demonstrations on
January 13. He said that the movement plans to use road
closures again and has discussed the possibility of ambushing
military convoys if the ROYG were to attempt to expand its
presence in the southern governorates. He added that the
south is flush with small arms and medium-grade weapons that
could be used in an armed conflict with the regime and
asserted that southerners in the Yemeni military would not
fight against their southern brethren.

FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES


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





3. (S) Wealthy expatriate southerners in the U.K. and Saudi
Arabia fund the movement, according to Tammah. The movement
has an office in London and is working to broadcast at least
one new satellite television station, Aden TV, into southern
Yemen to complement existing print and Web-based media.
Tammah said he traveled to the U.S., U.K., Saudi Arabia,
Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to elicit support. He
mentioned three key leaders in connection to the movement:
former People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY) President
Ali Nasser Mohamed, former PDRY Prime Minister Haider Abu
Bakr al-Attas and former Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP)
Hadramout Secretary General Hassan Ba'um. Tammah said that
although their views on the future of the south differ
slightly, Ali Nasser and Attas remain in close contact. When
asked who would be the leader of a potential independent
South Yemen, Tammah immediately answered that Ali Nasser, who
still has a substantial following among current and former
military and civilian officials from the south, would be the
most likely choice. Tammah said Ba'um, who has garnered
popular support across the south as an anti-regime hero, is
in hiding in Yafa and, with his health failing, wants to seek
medical treatment abroad. (Note: London-based separatist
news Web site Aden Press reported that Ba'um, who is known to
suffer from heart problems, underwent an unspecified "minor
surgical procedure" in Yafa in late February. End Note.)

STRANGE BED-FELLOWS? THE SOUTH, AL-QAEDA AND THE HOUTHIS


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



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





4. (S) Tammah provided some insight into the relationship
between the Southern Movement and Yemen's other elements of
domestic instability - the Houthis and al-Qaeda. According
to Tammah, Abdulmalik al-Houthi has called the leaders of the
Southern Movement to suggest cooperative action against the
regime. To date, the movement's leaders have rejected
al-Houthi's offer for fear of losing support from Saudi
Arabia. However, the Southern Movement is poised to take
advantage of renewed fighting in Saada, which would distract
the ROYG and increase the relative strength of the south.
(Comment: Recent flare-ups in Saada point to a sixth round of
fighting as an increasingly likely scenario. End Comment.)
Tammah, a member of the Yafa tribe that spans al-Qaeda
territory in Lahj and Abyan, also described a complex

relationship between the Southern Movement and al-Qaeda. He
expressed concern that the regime could deploy religious
extremists against its domestic opposition as it has in the
past, and worried that the area of al-Ja'ar was overrun by
religious extremists who operated outside the rule of law.
On the other hand, Tammah described the ROYG as a common foe
that in some ways makes the Southern Movement and al-Qaeda
allies. Tammah implied contact between the two sides that
established a status quo of mutual disengagement. He also
described how both al-Qaeda and the Southern Movement have
similar survival tactics, such as permitting supporters to
loot government facilities and sell equipment for cash.

COMMENT


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





5. (S) General Tammah's comments paint the most complete
picture to date of the Southern Movement's recent trajectory.
His comments, however, must be considered in light of an
as-yet-unidentified agenda. Although Tammah seems to be a
credible contact whose information is corroborated by other
sources, his motivation for speaking so openly to U.S.
officials about the Southern Movement's secessionist agenda
remains a significant question. END COMMENT

BIOGRAPHICAL DATA


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





6. (S) Prior to unification, General Mohamed Saleh Tammah
served as the commander of a mechanized battalion in the army
of the former PDRY. From 1990-1994, he was a close advisor
to Minister of Defense Haitham Qasim Taher in the unity
government. When civil war broke out in 1994, Tammah
returned to fight for the south. He lived in the U.S. from
1995 until 2008, during which time he became an American
citizen. Tammah returned to Yemen in late 2008 to
participate in the Southern Movement. He is originally from
Yafa and is a member of the Yafa tribe, which spans parts of
Lahj and Abyan governorates. Tammah speaks Arabic, English
and Russian.
SECHE