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Cablegate: Security Concerns Prompt Shift of Geographic Focus of Usg

VZCZCXYZ0016
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHYN #2164/01 3321356
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 281356Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY SANAA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8473
INFO RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA PRIORITY
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SANAA 002164

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR NEA
STATE PASS TO AID/ANE/MEA FOR MWARD, DMCLOUD, JWOOD

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KMPI PREL YM
SUBJECT: SECURITY CONCERNS PROMPT SHIFT OF GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS OF USG
DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES IN YEMEN

SUMMARY
-------

1. (U) On November 12, the Ambassador chaired an inter-agency
meeting to discuss future programming of USG development activities
in Yemen. The group concluded that the USG will not expend any new
funds in Sa'ada, Al-Jawf, Amran, Mareb, and Shabwa, where sufficient
USG oversight has not been possible over a 6 to 12 month period in
some locations. On November 26, Ambassador Seche met with the
Deputy Minister of Planning and International Cooperation to convey
this decision. On November 27, USAID/Yemen was informed by the
Deputy Minister that the government will start immediately to
improve security in these areas. He also invited the Ambassador to
travel to these areas in several months to witness first hand the
improvement in security and reconsider the decision to not expend
new funds in these areas. End summary.

USG SHIFT IN GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS
-----------------------------

2. (U) USG agencies (United States Agency for International
Development, Department of Defense (DOD), Middle East Partnership
Initiative (MEPI), and the United States Department of Agriculture
(USDA) invest in a range of development activities throughout Yemen.
The majority of these development activities are implemented in five
remote governorates (Sa'ada, Al-Jawf, Amran, Mareb, and Shabwa)
underserved by the Republic of Yemen Government (ROYG) and
vulnerable to terrorist recruitment and activity. An escalation of
terrorist activity and the deterioration of law enforcement in these
governorates in the past year have increased the danger to USG and
implementing partner personnel and prevented sufficient oversight
and monitoring of development activities.

3. (U)Against this backdrop, on November 12 Ambassador Seche chaired
an inter-agency meeting to discuss future programming of development
activities in Yemen. It was decided that the USG (USAID, MEPI, USDA,
and DOD) will not expend any new funds on projects in the five
governorates previously targeted by USAID: Sa'ada, Al-Jawf, Amran
(with limited exceptions), Mareb, and Shabwa. In Amran governorate,
the USG will continue to invest in activities in Amran city and
Thula south to the border. This decision was made given that, due
to insecurity in these governorates, USG employees have not been
able to travel regularly to these areas over a sustained period of
time to provide sufficient project oversight and monitoring: travel
to Al-Jawf and Sada'h has been off limits for official Americans
since 2006.

4. (U) Ongoing USG projects will continue in these areas. As soon as
security permits regular travel by USG employees over a 6 to 12
month period, the USG will reconsider investing new funds into these
governorates. Until then, USG agencies will focus their efforts and
resources in more secure areas, where they can make an impact and
have sufficient project oversight and monitoring, but not risk the
safety of their staff. Effective immediately, the USG will work with
other donors to identify new governorates in which to support
projects. During the next year, the USG - specifically USAID and
DOD's Civil Affairs team - will work to handover existing projects
in these five governorates to the ROYG. Given USDA projects are
bilaterally approved, any shift in USDA projects will require mutual
approval by the USG and the ROYG.

MEETING WITH ROYG
-----------------

5. (U)On November 26, Ambassador Seche and USAID's Program
Development Specialist met with the ROYG's Deputy Minister for
Planning and International Cooperation Hisham Sharaf Abdullah to
convey this shift in geographic focus for USG programming. The
Ambassador stated that the decision to not expend any new funds in
these locations is driven by his responsibility to ensure the
security and safety of his staff, which is his number one priority
at all times. He added that USG programs in other parts of the
country are unaffected by this decision. The Ambassador emphasized
the ongoing USG commitment to Yemen and the five governorates in
question, and the importance of the US -Yemeni strategic
partnership.

6. (SBU)Deputy Minister Abdullah expressed his understanding of the
decision, agreeing that the safety and security of USG staff and its
partners is priority. He commented that this decision was
understandable, noting that the Dutch have expressed concerns
recently regarding security of their personnel in these five
governorates. He mentioned several new security tactics that will be
implemented to improve the security situation throughout the

country. He explained as an example how security checkpoints will be
reinforced to ensure cities become weapon-free. He indicated that
the ban on firearms in major urban centers is having a positive
impact, and will be expanded in the future. He emphasized that Yemen
is in need of as much donor support as it can get from its friends,
adding that bilateral relations will not be negatively affected by
this decision.

FOLLOW UP
---------

7. (U) On November 27, Deputy Minister Abdullah called USAID/Yemen's
Program Development Specialist to say that he had informed President
Saleh of the November 26 meeting with Ambassador Seche. He stated
that the ROYG will begin immediately to improve security in the five
targeted areas in question. He also invited the Ambassador to travel
to these areas in two to three months to witness firsthand the
improvement in security and be convinced that the USG should start
new activities in these targeted areas.

SECHE

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