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Cablegate: Media Reaction On the Assassination of Hamas Leader

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 SANAA 000694

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR NEA, NEA/ARP, NEA/PD, NEA/RA, DS/OP/NEA AND
S/CT

CENTCOM FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OIIP KMDR PHUM PTER KISL YM
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION ON THE ASSASSINATION OF HAMAS LEADER
AHMAD YASSIN.

REF: SANAA 468

1. SUMMARY: The assassination of Ahmad Yassin 3/22, the
spiritual leader of the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas,
received widespread reaction at various levels of Yemeni
society including the government, political parties and the
media. Newspapers, including government, opposition and
independent papers, published extensive coverage of the
incident and statements of condemnation by the government
and by political parties. Yemen TV and opposition
statements commented the same day on the assassination
saying that the weak Arab presence in the
Israeli/Palestinian conflict and the U.S. Administration
backing for Israel were responsible for the assassination.
Statements supported resistance and argued that the Israeli
policies are blocking any chances for peace. A statement by
the Committee of Yemeni Scholars (Ulama) held the U.S.
responsible for the assassination and described it as
"Israel's number one supporter." All media outlets covered
as well a demonstration in Sana'a 03/23 in which over 70
thousand people participated. President Ali Abdallah Saleh
addressed the demonstration expressing support to all
Palestinian factions and demanding that the "terrorist
Sharon" should be tried before the International Criminal
Court as a war criminal. Overall, the media condemned the
act, and held the U.S. Administration responsible for the
"Israeli terrorist attacks against the Palestinians." END
SUMMARY

2. Yemen TV broadcast two-hour coverage 3/22 on the Yassin
assassination. The broadcast commented, "such consequences
are a result of the U.S. backing for Israel." Yemen TV
blamed the U.S. for its "shy" reaction to the assassination.
It also broadcast coverage of a protest organized by the
Students Federation at Sana'a University. Reportedly
thousands of students and some University professors took
part in the demonstration. Anti-Israeli and anti-American
slogans were chanted during the protest.

3. Al-Sahwa Net, web site of Islah's Al-Sahwa weekly,
(03/22), published a statement by the major opposition party
in Yemen, the Yemeni Alliance for Reform (Islah), condemning
the assassination. The statement holds Israel and the U.S.
Administration responsible for the assassination and for any
consequences that may occur. It also published separate
statements by the opposition alliance, the Joint Meeting
Parties (JMP), the ruling General People's Congress and the
Yemeni Socialist Party. The JMP statement holds the Arab
regimes responsible for developments in Palestine "due to
their silence to the previous Israeli threats to assassinate
Sheikh Ahmad Yassin over the past months." The statement
called on the international community to shoulder its legal,
humanitarian and political responsibilities "toward the acts
of terror being committed in Palestine with U.S. collusion."

4. The statement by the Yemeni Socialist Party stressed
that "the assassination will only ignite conflicts and
reduce chances for peaceful solutions in the region and
which have already been obstructed by the right-wing
government of Sharon." The ruling General People's Congress
party stressed in its statement that the Yemeni attitude is
firm in supporting the Palestinians "in their legitimate and
fair struggle to restore their rights and establish the
independent state of Palestine on their national soil." The
statement called on the international community "to
interfere and stop the Israeli massacres; to try Sharon as a
war criminal; to impose strict sanctions on the Sharon
government; and to take the initiative to achieve peace in
the Middle East region."

5. Al-Sahwa Net (03/22) reported that a parliamentary
delegation visited the Hamas office in Sana'a and offered
condolences over the death of Yassin. Al-Sahwa Net quoted
the Hamas representative in Yemen, Jamal Eissa, who called
on the people of Yemen to attend a ceremony in solidarity
with Palestine next Thursday, 3/24 in Sana'a.


6. Al-Thawra official daily (03/23) quoted an unnamed
Yemeni government source who condemned in strongly worded
terms the "criminal act committed by the Sharon government."
"This cowardly, dangerous and terrorist Israeli criminal
act," the source added, "is a new affirmation of the state
terrorism being practiced by Israel and its Prime Minister
Sharon against the Palestinian people, and is a hindrance to
all international efforts that aim to establish a fair and
comprehensive solution to the Israeli/Arab conflict." The
source said that the assassination "will only lead to more
violence and resistance." It demanded on behalf of the
government of Yemen that the U.N. and the Quartet "condemn
this heinous and horrible crime and to put a limit to the
Israeli terror policies." The source urged the U.N.
Security Council to send international protection forces to
protect the Palestinians "and to prevent the situation from
deteriorating further." "This Israeli escalation" the
source emphasized "is a natural result of the international
community's neglect to the destructive and extremist Israeli
policies." The source demanded from the international
community to impose sanctions on the Israeli government and
try Sharon as a war criminal.

7. Al-Thawra (03/23) also published two separate statements
by the Parliament and the Shura Council strongly condemning
the assassination. The statement urged all levels of the
Palestinian society, including political leaders and
resistance factions, "to unite and strengthen resistance by
all possible means available." The Parliament called on
Arab and Muslim leaders to "offer all types of moral and
material support to the Palestinian people to help them
continue the resistance and liberate Palestine." The
statement requested from the Arab and Muslim countries that
have "direct or indirect" relations with Israel "to
reconsider such relations." The Parliament holds the U.S.
Administration "fully responsible for the acts of terror
being committed by the Zionist entity against the
Palestinians." It called on the international community and
the Security Council "to take a serious position toward
Zionist terrorism and to prove the credibility of its war
against terrorism." Al-Thawra also quoted the Foreign
Relations Committee in Parliament, which said that "any
peace efforts with Sharon and bloodsuckers in his government
will never see light." "Resistance and Jihad" the FRC added
"is the only option that all Arab and Muslim populations
have to confront the powers of evil which enjoy the support
of the U.S. Administration." The Shura Council statement
said that the Council received the news "with great sorrow
and anger." It said, "all Israel's peace theories are
maneuvers to gain more time to implement its hidden desires
to eliminate and expel the rest of the Palestinians from
Palestine." The statement confirmed that the assassination
is not targeted against Hamas, "but against all the Arab and
Muslim populations." Al-Thawra quoted Speaker of Parliament
Shaikh Al-Ahmar who described the assassination as an
"unforgivable act." He called on the U.S. government to
"prove its credibility and stand by its responsibilities as
a peace sponsor to stop the Zionist crimes." He also called
on the U.S. to "stop supporting Israel with weapons and
money and to stop defending it in all international events."
Al-Thawra also quoted the Hamas representative in Sana'a who
said that the assassination will make Hamas stronger and
more determined to resist the Israeli occupation.

8. Al-Thawra (03/23) published an op-ed titled "What is
After the Assassination?" The article indicated that strong
statements of condemnation and negotiations with Israel will
not stop Israel since Israel "is looking forward to
eliminating all the Arabs." "Israel will not change its
policies and terrorist plans unless the Arabs move toward
solidarity and take practical decisions" Al-Thawra added.
The paper published another op-ed which said that "the peace
process has been buried the day Sheikh Ahmad Yassin was
killed."

9. Aden-based independent daily Al-Ayyam (03/23) published
extensive coverage of the assassination. On the front-page,
a very provoking photo of Sheikh Yassin in the morgue with
his brain scattered was printed. The paper highlighted
regional and international reactions to the assassination.

10. All news websites including the government's official
web site Saba News Agency; the Al-Motamar Net (web site run
by the ruling General People's Congress); the Al-Sahwa Net
(web site of Islah's Al-Sahwa weekly); the independent Al-
Tagheer Net; and the Al-Wahdawi Net reported that a
"massive" demonstration took place in Sana'a today 3/23.
Seventy thousand people were reported by newspapers to have
taken part in the demonstration. The demonstrators handed a
letter to the U.N. Representative in Sana'a requesting the
U.N. to interfere immediately "to stop the Israeli massacres
and try Sharon." Banners were raised during the
demonstration calling on the people to boycott U.S. and
Israeli products and calling on the Arab states "to open the
door for the Arab youth to go on jihad and not to naturalize
relations with Israel." The demonstration was attended by
the President of the Republic who delivered a speech
condemning the assassination of Yassin. President Saleh
requested the U.N. and the international community to try
Sharon before the International Criminal Court as a war
criminal. He described Sharon as "the world's number one
terrorist" and that "no terrorism in the world equals
Sharon's." The President considered the assassination of
Yassin as a "challenge to the upcoming Arab League summit."
He said that the Palestinians are suffering from the Israeli
intransigence "due to the absence of Arab solidarity."
"This is the first message to the Arab nation" the President
added "and the second will be to kill Yasser Arafat." The
President voiced Yemen's support "with all its capabilities"
to all resistance factions including Fath, Hamas, Jihad and
the Public Resistance Movement. The President called on all
the Palestinian factions to "unite and confront the Zionist
intransigence." He noted that the occupation of Iraq is a
Zionist plot. "The occupation of Iraq" the President added
"is a Zionist conspiracy. Whatever reforms Israel is
weaving for the Middle East is an overt challenge to the
Arab nation." "Reforms only come from inside and with an
Arab and Islamic will. Political situations cannot be
reformed from outside either from the Congress or from
elsewhere. And we do not accept foreign pressures whatever
they are" the President added.

11. Al-Thawra (03/24) published another statement by the
Joint Meeting of the Shura Council and Parliament; the
Yemeni Cabinet; the Committee of Yemeni Scholars (Ulama);
and the Yemeni Journalists Syndicate. The statements
condemned very strongly the assassination of Yassin. The
statement by the Shura Council and the Parliament urged the
Palestinians to unite and "enhance resistance by all
possible means." The statement requested all Arab and
Muslim countries that have "direct or indirect relations
with the Zionist entity to reconsider these relations." The
statement charged the U.S. Administration as "fully
responsible for the acts of terror committed by the Zionist
entity against the people of Palestine since it is the
strategic ally of Israel and number one supporter." The
Cabinet called on the international community, the U.N. and
the Quartet to condemn the assassination; "to put a limit to
the Zionist state terrorism and to impose sanctions on
Israel." The Ulama Committee called on the Arab and Muslim
countries to boycott the Israeli products and the products
of companies that support Israel. It called on the Arab and
Muslim states that have economic and diplomatic relations
with Israel "to break" these relations.

12. Anti-American independent Al-Balagh weekly (03/23)
published an op-ed titled "Down with terrorist Sharon . Down
with terrorist Bush." The op-ed blamed the U.S. position
toward Palestine. It criticized Bush's "logic" that
considers "the disabled Hamas leader as a terrorist, while
Sharon for all his crimes, is seen by Bush as a man of
peace." The paper added that Sharon and Bush are "the real
terrorists."

13. COMMENT: While the universal condemnation of the
assassination by both government and opposition forces as
reflected in the above statements seems to reflect the
general public sentiment in the country, the peaceful and
almost toned-down nature of the demonstrations could be an
indication that the Yemeni reaction may remain in the realm
of rhetoric. Additionally, the government's obvious hand in
organizing the largest demonstration seems to suggest that
the authorities were acting preemptively to give the public
a chance to blow off steam and thus avoid more serious
action. The general condemnation of the United States as an
accomplice in the act is not new, neither is it surprising
given the fact that the United States is always blamed for
not restraining Israel.
HULL

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