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Cablegate: France Urges Comprehensive Approach to Yemen

VZCZCXRO7167
PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHFR #0047/01 0131658
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 131658Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8060
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 000047
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/13/2020
TAGS: PGOV PREL SA YM FR
SUBJECT: FRANCE URGES COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO YEMEN
REF: A. PARIS 25
B. 2009 PARIS 1335
Classified By: Political Counselor Andrew Young, for reasons 1.4 (b), (
d).
1. (C) SUMMARY: The French advocate a comprehensive and
coordinated approach to Yemen and they support the Yemeni
government’s pursuit of a ceasefire linked to broad national
dialogue, according to Jean-Baptiste Faivre, French MFA
Deputy Assistant Secretary-equivalent. Faivre told poloff
January 12 that France has urged Yemeni leaders to ensure
that a program of "round table" national dialogue is broadly
inclusive and wide-ranging, touching on the concerns that
have precipitated the civil war in the north, secession
threats in the south, economic stagnation, and governance
problems. Although not opposed to external mediation as a
means to end the civil war, GOF officials believe Yemeni and
Saudi opposition to mediation will prove impossible to
overcome in the near term. Nonetheless, French officials may
probe their Yemeni and Saudi counterparts to determine how a
mediator might contribute constructively in the future, and
the French would be willing to coordinate their efforts with
the USG. More broadly, Faivre argued, the USG and the
European Union (EU) should adopt a coordinated approach to
the various problems plaguing Yemen. He indicated that the
GOF still awaits word from the British as to the format,
aims, and invitees for the proposed multilateral conference
on Yemen in London at the end of January. In the meantime,
Faivre said the French will continue their on-going efforts
to train and advise Yemeni officials in various ministries,
to provide limited financial support to the government, and
to collaborate with Yemeni counter-terrorism efforts.
Finally, Faivre said the French worry that excessive media
attention to terrorism in Yemen could aggravate the problem
by attracting more terrorists to the country, and urged
discretion in official communications. END SUMMARY.
--------------------------------------------- -
TOWAD A COMPREHENSIVE POLICY APPROACH TO YEMEN
--------------------------------------------- -
2. (C) Jean-Baptiste Faivre said the French currently
support the Yemeni government’s pursuit of a ceasefire in the
civil war up north, followed by national dialogue, rather
than any immediate efforts to bring in an external mediator
(reftel A). He encouraged the USG to join France in urging
Yemeni leaders to ensure that a program of national dialogue
is broadly inclusive and wide-ranging, touching on the
concerns that have precipitated the civil war in the north,
secession threats in the south, economic stagnation, and
governance problems. When they discuss the prospect of
national dialogue with Yemeni officials, Faivre said, the
French repeatedly stress its importance in improving the
image of the government. Although not in any way opposed to
the prospect of external mediation as a means to end the
civil war, GOF officials believe Yemeni and Saudi opposition
to mediation will prove impossible to overcome in the near
term, according to Faivre. Yemeni President Saleh, he said,
has rejected any proposals which could appear to place the
rebels on the same level as the government. Moreover, Faivre
noted, Saleh has bad memories of Qatari mediation attempts
from approximately 12 years ago (NFI), which the Yemenis
reportedly believe afforded the rebels time to regroup.
Nonetheless, he reported that French officials may probe
their Yemeni and Saudi counterparts to determine when and how
a mediator might contribute constructively in the future, and
the French would be willing to coordinate and share
information about any similar efforts made by the USG. "We
are open to all tools," Faivre said, adding that we have
nothing to lose by asking the Yemenis and Saudis to consider
a mediated resolution to the civil war.
3. (C) In the short term, however, Faivre argued, the USG
and the European Union (EU) should adopt a coordinated,
comprehensive approach to the various problems plaguing
Yemen. He indicated that the GOF still awaits word from the
British as to the format, aims, and invitees for the proposed
multilateral conference on Yemen in London at the end of
January. The French have indications the British may want to
transform the conference into a pledging event rather than a
policy discussion. The GOF would like to know what the
planners envisage for follow up, Faivre said, and they have
emphasized to the British the importance of discretion at the
event in order to avoid creating unintended consequences (see
paragraph seven, below).
--------------------------------------------- ----
FRENCH AID FOCUSES ON POLITICS, SECURITY, ECONOMY
--------------------------------------------- ----
PARIS 00000047 002 OF 002
4. (C) In addition to providing political and diplomatic
support for the Yemeni government’s effort to end their civil
war, the French plan to continue their on-going efforts to
train and advise officials in various ministries. They focus
much of their effort in training the Yemeni coast guard,
Faivre reported, including counter-piracy efforts, but they
also work with the police, armed forces, and special forces.
In one notable recent appointment to a Yemeni ministry, the
GOF sent Jean-Bernard Bolvin, the young son of a leading
activist in President Sarkozy’s political party (UMP) and a
former advisor to Deputy Minister Rama Yade, to serve as a
counselor to the Minister of Planning and Cooperation,
Abdulkarim Ismail Al-Arhabi. Bolvin, who began his work in
Yemen the week of January 4, will remain in contact with the
French Embassy in Sanaa, according to Faivre.
5. (C) As to economic aid, the GOF has for several years
listed Yemen as a priority recipient of development support.
The GOF set aside 110 million euros for allocation between
2006 and 2010. As they considered supplementing this grant
with loans, Yemen’s extensive sovereign debt stymied GOF
plans, according to Faivre. In 2009, the French sought to
collaborate with the Kuwaitis in providing financial support
to Yemen (reftel B), but Faivre said that effort has failed.
6. (C) Finally, the French also currently cooperate with the
Yemenis in their counter-terrorism efforts, Faivre reported,
noting that their cooperation is far more limited than ours.
"We are ready to work with you," he asserted. He also said
the French worry are concerned the Yemeni intelligence
services may lack the capacity to meet the increasing demands
they face.
--------------------------------------------- ----
TOO MUCH PUBLIC ATTENTION CREATES RISKS FOR YEMEN
--------------------------------------------- ----
7. (C) Faivre worried that the recent rush of media
attention to Yemen could obscure the true extent of the
terrorist threat currently emanating from the country.
Within the span of a few days, he said, the world press
seemed to declare Yemen the primary front in the war against
terrorism. "We must evaluate the situation as precisely as
possible," he noted, "or we may over- or under-estimate the
true extent of the threat." Faivre said that, according to
GOF sources, several hundred Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists
currently operate in Yemen, and most of them come from
abroad. As we help the Yemenis confront this group, he
warned, we could increase rather than decrease their number
if we draw too much attention to their presence in Yemen.
The media focus on the country risks increasing the country’s
allure to terrorists, who may soon perceive Yemen as a
particularly prestigious destination in which to base
themselves. In addition, the French worry a media fixation
with terrorism in Yemen could offer the government a pretext
to avoid addressing its serious internal problems.
Therefore, he argued, our governments should minimize public
statements about terrorism in Yemen and work to persuade the
British to ensure the London conference remains as discrete
as possible.
8. (C) NOTE: Faivre explained that the EU had planned to
release a declaration supporting a ceasefire and national
dialogue in Yemen before journalists around the world noted
the links between Yemen and the attempted terrorist attack on
Christmas day. He said they will soon release a statement
along those lines. END NOTE.
PEKALA

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