Cablegate: Sanaa Response to Next Steps On U.S. - Middle East

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (U) Summary: As the least developed country in the NEA
region, Yemen is likely to show rapid, tangible results from
well-conceived MEPI-funded programming. The ROYG has welcomed
the initiative warmly and publicly, and Foreign Minister Dr.
Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi will send a letter to Secretary Powell in
the coming days to welcome MEPI and suggest applications for
Yemen. In addition, the imminent return of USAID to Embassy
Sanaa will help to ensure that post has the capacity to
manage MEPI funds and implement expanded programming

2. (U) Embassy Sanaa is dedicated to the Middle East
Partnership Initiative (MEPI) and has made MEPI an important
component of post,s Mission Performance Plan (MPP). In fact,
MEPI funding will be critical in achieving the Mission,s
strategic goals and objectives in the next few years. Post
appreciates the opportunity to provide thoughts as requested
in ref A. End Summary.

MEPI Goals and Objectives

3. (U) Education reform, economic reform, political reform,
digital readiness, and women,s empowerment are very relevant
to Yemen and areas where the ROYG is committed to progress.
The main obstacle to progress, however, is that Yemen has few
resources from which to draw upon in each of these areas and
relies heavily on donor assistance.

In education reform, for example, the emphasis would be on
literacy and availability of basic education more than on
higher education. The objective in E1 referring to promotion
of participatory learning and critical thinking skills is
better situated to some of the wealthier states in the region
than to Yemen.

In economic reform, for example, Yemen is in dire need of
technical assistance to strengthen its commercial legal
systems and banking systems (ER2). Reform of these systems
will not only boost foreign direct investment in Yemen but is
also necessary for Yemen,s accession into the WTO and in
meeting the criteria of the Millennium Challenge Fund.

In political reform, Yemen's nascent democracy needs the
support envisioned under the MEPI goals and objectives,
including strengthened political parties, developed local
councils, increased women's participation, improved election
administration, professionalized media and a reformed
judiciary. With continued support, Yemen,s vibrant democracy
(Yemen has the most active democracy on the Arabian
Peninsula) will be better equipped to face the challenges
that lie ahead.

In digital readiness cross-cut, the Ministry of Education
lacks the resources to institute multi-media, broadcast, and
Internet-based educational programming in the school system
(DR3). As such, there is a general lack of information and
communication technology knowledge. Fundamental skills,
related to digital readiness, must first be developed before
a digital marketplace can effectively take root in Yemen.

In women,s empowerment cross-cut, reducing the drop-out rate
of adolescent girls combined with women,s literacy programs
is an important first step in empowering Yemeni women. In a
country where two-thirds of all women are illiterate, basic
women,s education programs must be the focus rather than
increasing the number of successful female business owners
and office holders as stated in WE1 and WE3.

4. (U) A central theme of the Post,s MPP is "no security
without development, and no development without security."
MEPI funding for visible, high-impact programs will thus
buttress and help sustain progress on fundamental U.S.
counter-terrorism goals in Yemen. The MEPI goals and
objectives provide a good framework for helping Post target
key sectors and regions for rapid tangible results and
maximum impact against the existing support network for
Islamist extremism.
FY 02 Supplemental Notional Program Planning

5. (U) Post would like to enhance its presence in FY 02
programming in region-wide and post-specific programs. For
instance, the Incentives Program for Girls to Stay in School
is extremely relevant to Yemen, with a girl,s illiteracy
rate of 67.5%, and Yemen Government institutions are in great
need of Information Technology assistance.

6. (U) The Yemen political party and tribal council training
program already allocated is vital to Yemen,s democratic
development. In addition, however, parliamentary elections
in April will be the most competitive parliamentary elections
since unification in 1990 and could impact negatively on
Yemen,s political reform efforts. A vigorous domestic and
international election observation effort to increase the
confidence of Yemeni citizens in the election process and
help alleviate possible violence is vital to the
sustainability of democratic progress.

FY ,03 MEPI Proposed Programs

7. Post has developed four program proposals that fit
directly with the MEPI goals and is in the process of
identifying and developing other programs. The four proposed
programs that are being proposed for inclusion in the FY ,03
MEPI program are defined below, with details septels:

Strengthening Education in Rural Areas in Yemen: In-Service
training for primary school teachers and administrators in
selected underserved and disadvantaged governorates. This
program fits directly with the "Education Reform" MEPI goal
and its objective to "Expand access to, and quality of, basic
formal education, particularly for girls."

Eradicating Women,s Illiteracy in Yemen: Providing basic
literacy and life skills courses for adult women in selected
underserved and disadvantaged governorates. This program fits
the "Education Reform" MEPI goal and its objective to "Expand
access to, and quality of, basic formal education,
particularly for girls."

Providing the Internet to Yemeni High Schools and NGOs:
Providing internet classrooms in high schools and access to
internet for (mainly women,s) NGOs. This program fits the
"Digital Readiness" MEPI cross cutting issue; the "Education
Reform" MEPI goal and its objective to "Expand access to, and
quality of, basic formal education, particularly for girls."
See ref B.

Raising Awareness on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): An
activity to encourage the establishment of laws prohibiting
the practice of FGM, and increasing the capacity of a Yemeni
women,s advocacy NGO, the National Women,s Committee (NWC).
This program fits the "Women,s Empowerment" MEPI cross
cutting issue, and more specifically, the goal to "Support
founding, growth and networking of NGOs advocating equality
of women."

Other MEPI Opportunities in Yemen

8. (U) Post has identified other areas in which MEPI can
play a significant role. Strategically targeted MEPI-funded
programming will play a significant role in ensuring
continued and enhanced economic development, political reform
and security, which are vital to Yemen's stability, an
essential ingredient in the global war on terror.

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