Cablegate: Embassy Sanaa

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

Cable dated:2005-05-23T14:26:00

1. (S/NF) Ambassador met informally with XXXXXXXXXXXX. XXXXXXXXXXXX said that President Saleh is more interested in enriching his family than in making the strategic choices necessary to lead Yemen into the future. XXXXXXXXXXXX was gloomy about President Saleh’s ability to understand the importance of the issues of controlling SA/LW and intelligence sharing to U.S.-ROYG cooperation, and said Saleh did not comprehend what was necessary to maintain a close relationship with the USG in the long term. End Summary.

2. (S/NF) Echoing what we are increasingly hearing from those ROYG interlocutors closest to the Embassy, XXXXXXXXXXXX said that Saleh is more and more isolated, and less and less responsive to advice from those practical, progressive ROYG insiders XXXXXXXXXXXX. XXXXXXXXXXXX moaned that Saleh “listens to no one,” and is “unrealistically and stupidly confident” that he will always make the right decisions. Saleh, he said, does not think strategically and cares only about enriching his own family, particularly: XXXXXXXXXXXX Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar Commander of Northern Army (considered the second most powerful man in Yemen); XXXXXXXXXXXX

3. (S/NF) Together with Sheikh Abdullah al Ahmar’s clan (speaker of the Parliament and supreme chief the Hashid tribal confederation which includes Saleh’s tribe), all of Yemen’s wealth is being squandered and stolen by Saleh who is increasingly “greedy and paranoid,” especially regarding American intentions, said XXXXXXXXXXXX. XXXXXXXXXXXX are making millions working the diesel smuggling and black market along with Ali Mohsen, using military vehicles and NSB and CSF staff to move the fuel to markets in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. XXXXXXXXXXXX

4. (S/NF) XXXXXXXXXXXX also said that his contacts in Saada, including a leading sheikh (he would not give his name), are all furious with Saleh over the amount of indiscriminate killing and destruction perpetrated by the regular army in the north during last month’s suppression of the al-Houthi rebellion. XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed that the “Believing Youth” were by far the minority of the fighters in Saada, rather he said, most fighters came from tribes allied together against Saleh and the central government. He said Saleh is “extremely concerned” that he could lose control of the tribes in Saada and that this will spread to the al-Jawf and Ma’rib tribes.

5. (S/NF) “Everyone”, according to XXXXXXXXXXXX, has had it with the corruption of Saleh and his family. As an example, XXXXXXXXXXXX cited the outrageous costs of this Sunday’s May 22 celebration of the fifteenth Unity Day being held in Mukalla at a cost, claimed XXXXXXXXXXXX, of more than 300 million USD, most of which will go into the pockets of those government officials arranging the show. (Note: The price tag XXXXXXXXXXXX gave likely includes some of the massive development projects in Mukalla and elsewhere that the government is rushing to complete before May 22. End Note.)

6. (S/NF) Comment: XXXXXXXXXXXX is only one source, and this is not the first time he has given a pessimistic assessment of Saleh and his cronies. XXXXXXXXXXXX. But we are increasingly hearing hints and murmurs from others, including XXXXXXXXXXXX and SXXXXXXXXXXXX (who told Ambassador recently that he “wants out” of politics because the President no longer listens to his advice). Even XXXXXXXXXXXX, who, while most certainly profiting from the corrupt business dealings of XXXXXXXXXXXX and Saleh, claimed that he and a group of young GPC and Islah MP’s intend to band together to force the government to control corruption and enact reforms.

7. (S/NF) Comment Continued. We have heard rumors backing up XXXXXXXXXXXX’s claim of an opposition candidate in 2006. Saleh is worried about a possible political challenge next year from Islah and the new opposition coalition JMP, or even from within the GPC. We may well see another clamp-down on the press and political parties “for security reasons” that will roll back some or much of the progress made in democratic reforms and human rights just in time for this year’s MCC reports. End Comment. Krajeski

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