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Cablegate: Royg Acknowledges U.S. Intel Assistance in Aqap

VZCZCXRO5866
RR RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHDIR
DE RUEHYN #2274/01 3611245
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 271245Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY SANAA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3457
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SANAA 002274

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR NEA/ARP AMACDONALD
NSC OR AJOST

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/26/2019
TAGS: PGOV PREL PTER PINS MOPS PINR YM
SUBJECT: ROYG ACKNOWLEDGES U.S. INTEL ASSISTANCE IN AQAP
STRIKES, MAKES CASE BEFORE PARLIAMENT

REF: A. SANAA 2251
B. SANAA 2250

Classified By: CDA Angie Bryan for reasons 1.4(b) and (d).

1. (C) SUMMARY: Deputy Prime Minister for Defense and
Security Affairs Rashad al-Alimi for the first time publicly
acknowledged U.S. intelligence assistance in the December 17
strikes during a presentation to Parliament on December 23.
Preliminary reports from Post contacts indicate that Alimi's
presentation, which included both a description of al-Qaeda's
growing threat to Yemen going back to 1992 and an explanation
that the civilian casulaties were in fact AQAP family members
living in terrorist training camps, was well received by the
pro-government MPs in attendance. Opposition MPs largely
stayed away from the session because they have been
boycotting Parliament since early December due to an
unrelated dispute with the ROYG over parliamentary elections.
End summary.

Royg makes the case for aqap strikes before parliament
--------------------------------------------- ---------

2. (SBU) After repeated calls in Parliament for the ROYG to
explain the December 17 AQAP strikes, Deputy Prime Minister
for Defense and Security Affairs Rashad al-Alimi described to
MPs the al-Qaeda threat in Yemen during a December 23
presentation. Alimi said that the strikes were carried out
"using intelligence aid from Saudi Arabia and the United
States of America in our fight against terrorism." He pinned
the occurrence of civilian casualties squarely on AQAP's
leadership, saying that "militants" had brought their own
family members to the training camps. Alimi's presentation
before Parliament, which included a history of al-Qaeda's
attacks on Yemeni targets since 1992 and a list of AQAP
operatives killed in the December 17 strikes, was open to the
press and received prominent coverage the following day in
official and independent media outlets. Most of the strikes'
harshest critics -- members of the minority Joint Meeting
Parties (JMP) -- did not attend the presentation due to an
ongoing boycott of Parliament since early December resulting
from a dispute with the ROYG over the last round of
parliamentary elections, according to opposition leader MP
Hamid al-Ahmar. The JMP did send one opposition member,
Islah Party MP Ali Ashal, from Abyan, to press Alimi on the
issue of civilian casualties.

3. (C) For days following the December 17 strikes, Post
contacts who supported the strikes lamented the ROYG's
silence on the issue of civilian casualties. Alimi's
presentation, which included satellite images and photographs
of the training camps, was generally well received by MPs
from the ruling General People's Congress (GPC) party, many
of whom had previously expressed frustration with the
government's tight hold on details of the strike. MP Nabil
Basha told Pol FSN that Alimi's presentation was the subject
of a heated debate over the issue of civilian casulaties,
despite the majority GPC's overall support for aggressive
action against al-Qaeda. On December 26, Parliament anounced
the formation of a 10-member fact-finding commission, chaired
by Deputy Speaker of Parliament Himyar al-Ahmar, to
investigate reports of civilian deaths, according to
government media.

4. (C) MPs pressed Alimi to answer why the strikes had not
been carried out earlier, what measures were in place to
limit collateral damage, and how best to compensate the
civilian victims in Abyan, according to a Finance Ministry
official who witnessed the session. "At long last, the ROYG
addressed the issue of so-called innocent civilians being
killed. Once it understood that these were training camps
and that civilians were relatives of al-Qaeda people,
Parliament respected the government's actions," xxxxx,
told EconOff.xxxxx, told EconOff that the
presentation impressed MPs and would go a long way in helping
future CT operations. "Why did the government wait so long
after the strikes to explain everything?" is a common refrain
heard among Post political contacts, referring to Alimi's

Sanaa 00002274 002 of 002


presentation to Parliament.

Foreign minister asks u.s. To stay quiet on support role
--------------------------------------------- -----------

5. (C) Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi told the Charge on
December 23 that the U.S. should continue to refer inquiries
to the Yemeni Government, highlight the ROYG's indigenous CT
capabilities, and stress that al-Qaeda represents a threat
not only to the West, but also to Yemen's security. Qirbi
also attacked the opposition Islah party and the Southern
Movement for "speaking in defense of al-Qaeda" by
characterizing the strikes as targeting innocent civilians.
Bryan

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