Cablegate: A/S Burns in Yemen: Mepi and Development Programs

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

080652Z Oct 03




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (u) Summary: During his October 3-4 visit to Yemen,
Assistant Secretary Burns experienced first-hand how
development programs complement and support Post's
counter-terrorism goals. Meetings with President Saleh and
FM Qirbi reported in septels. A/S Burns received
comprehensive briefings from the Embassy development team
(USAID, Pol/Econ, Public Diplomacy, Agriculture) in
preparation for on-site visits. At the Supreme Committee for
Elections and Referenda, the Chairman and MEPI-funded
implementors NDI and IFES discussed the close cooperation
that resulted in a forty percent increase in women's voter
registration, excellent election day administration and the
most peaceful election ever despite some acknowledged flaws.
Burns visited a local NGO train-the-trainers workshop for the
MEPI-funded project to eradicate women's illiteracy. He also
saw the Sailah municipal drainage project in central Sanaa
that provides improved flood control and sanitation.
American Institute for Yemen Studies (AIYS) briefed the A/S
on the plans for the new MEPI-funded building that will
increase cultural and academic exchanges and understanding
between Yemen and the U.S. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- -------
Embassy Sanaa Development Team -- Practical Focus on
the Most Troubled Governorates
--------------------------------------------- -------

2. (u) Embassy Sanaa's Development Team briefed A/S Burns
on Post's efforts to effectively tap all available funding
(AID, MEPI, monetized food aid) and expertise to create
complementary and effective USG programs. USAID highlighted
the team's strategy for both short-term high-impact projects
and long-term development in four main sectors -- health,
education, private sector development (primarily through
agriculture) and democracy and governance. Health programs
in Marib were highlighted to illustrate the team's emphasis
on fostering development primarily in five remote and tribal
governorates where services and government control are
lacking, an important complement to Post's counter-terrorism

MEPI/Elections 2003:
Excellent Cooperation between SCER, NDI, IFES

3. (u) The Supreme Committee for Elections and Referenda
(SCER) hosted A/S Burns, the National Democratic Institute
(NDI) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems
(IFES) for a discussion on the April 2003 parliamentary
elections and MEPI-funded assistance. SCER Chairman Khalid
Ash Sharif welcomed A/S Burns and thanked him for the
assistance provided through the Middle East Partnership
Initiative (MEPI) to NDI and IFES, which he praised as
instrumental to the success of the election. Ash Sharif
detailed the technical preparations for voter registration
and election day, showing materials such as IFES-assisted
voter registration books that helped increase women's
registration by 40% -- making women 42% of the electorate.
He noted vital NDI's role; agreeing with NDI Director Robin
Madrid that the cooperation helped the SCER act as a bridge
between government and the opposition parties to alleviate
suspicion and dampen the potential for violence.

4. (u) A/S Burns said it was important for the United States
to support Yemen's goals in economic development and
democratic reform through partnership. He noted that "Yemen
was out ahead of other societies in the region on many
democratic reforms" but that there were "more challenges on
the road ahead." Burns said the U.S. was proud to have found
practical ways to encourage democratic reform through NDI and
IFES and pledged to seek more resources through MEPI and
other avenues to continue providing support. Ash Sharif
welcomed continued cooperation, noting that the current and
future programs outlined by NDI and IFES Director Enrique
Saltos during the meeting would be very important to Yemen's
continued democratic development.

Eradicating Illiteracy

5. (u) A/S Burns visited SOUL's (Women and Children's
Development Association) two U.S.-sponsored workshops. As
part of the $2 million MEPI-funded eradication of women's
illiteracy project implemented by CARE, SOUL hosted a
train-the-trainers workshop for CARE workers to conduct
baseline surveys and assessments. CARE contracted SOUL to
conduct evaluation and training for the project, which is
designed to provide basic education to women who have been
left behind by the educational system. A/S Burns was also
briefed on SOUL's training of local NGO capacity, which was
funded through Democracy Small Grants.

Sailah Project

6. (u) During transits between meetings, A/S Burns was shown
the Sailah municipal drainage and flood control project,
funded primarily via more than $15 million dollars of USG
monetized food aid assistance over the last several years.
The Sailah project is a channel through central Sana'a that
has been instrumental in controlling flooding and the flow of
water during the rainy season. It has drastically improved
the health and sanitation situation in the city.

American Institute for Yemen Studies

7. (u) A/S Burns met with American Institute for Yemen
Studies (AIYS) Director Chris Edens to discuss support for
on-going research and fellowships, renovations of cultural
sites, and efforts to increase U.S.-Yemen understanding
through the exchange of research and ideas. The A/S and
Edens discussed AIYS's ability, as a non-governmental entity
separate from the U.S. Embassy, to engage in non-traditional
diplomacy efforts. AIYS has been forced to move to six
different locations over the past 25 years. It currently has
$500,000 in MEPI funding to purchase a building and compound
for its offices and hostel facilities. Both the A/S and
Edens agreed that having a permanent location would provide
the security and infrastructure for AIYS to expand its
capacity to promote interests beyond economic development and

Burns Meets Embassy Staff

8. (u) A/S Burns spoke to all Embassy staff about U.S.-Yemen
cooperation on security and development, Iraq and the
Israeli-Palestinian situation. The Ambassador hosted an
in-house barbecue that provided an excellent opportunity for
the Embassy's junior officers to meet A/S Burns.

9. (u) This cable was cleared by NEA A/S Burns.

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