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Viewing cable 07SANAA473, S) UNMANNED USG AIRCRAFT WASHES ASHORE, OFFICIAL

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07SANAA473 2007-04-02 05:05 2010-12-03 21:09 SECRET Embassy Sanaa
VZCZCXRO1280
PP RUEHDE RUEHDIR
DE RUEHYN #0473 0920535
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 020535Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY SANAA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6625
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHRMDAB/COMUSNAVCENT BAHRAIN
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA
E C R E T SANAA 000473 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/31/2017 
TAGS: PREL MASS YM
SUBJECT: (S) UNMANNED USG AIRCRAFT WASHES ASHORE, OFFICIAL 
MEDIA REPORTS DOWNED IRANIAN "SPY PLANE" 

REF: STATE 32641 

Classified By: CDA NABEEL KHOURY, FOR REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D). 

1. (S) On March 27, Yemeni military officers discovered an 
unmanned USG reconnaissance aircraft (Scan Eagle) that had 
washed ashore on the Arabian Sea coast in the province of 
Hadramaut. The President's Office immediately protested the 
incident to CDA and requested an explanation. Initially 
unaware of any USG operations in the area, Post learned after 
further inquiry that the reconnaissance aircraft belonged to 
the U.S.S. Ashland, which had been patrolling as part of 
CTF-150, 60 nautical miles off the Yemeni coast. The 
aircraft had crashed in international waters on March 17 and 
had not been recovered. 

2. (S) On March 28, CDA spoke with President Saleh (who was 
attending the Arab League summit in Riyadh) via telephone and 
confirmed that the aircraft belonged to the U.S. Navy. He 
assured Saleh that the plane crashed performing routine 
reconnaissance near the ship and had not been operating in 
Yemeni territory. CDA also met separately with Interior 
Minister Rashad Alimi and Ammar Saleh, Deputy Director of the 
National Security Bureau, and presented both with general 
information on the aircraft. 

3. (S) President Saleh expressed doubt as to the plane's 
actual mission, but promised CDA that the ROYG would not 
"turn this into an international incident" and would instruct 
government officials not to comment. On March 29, official 
and pro-government media sources reported that the Yemeni 
military had shot down an Iranian "spy plane" off the coast 
of Hadramaut, after communicating with "multinational forces" 
in the region. Independent daily Al-Ayam (largest 
circulating independent newspaper), quoted an unnamed Yemeni 
military official as confirming that the plane belonged to 
the American government, but would not comment on whether the 
plane was shot down or discovered after crashing. 

4. (S) Comment: President Saleh clearly believes the 
unmanned aircraft had been performing reconnaissance in 
Yemeni territory when it crashed. He could have taken the 
opportunity to score political points by appearing tough in 
public against the United States, but chose instead to blame 
Iran. No doubt focused on the unrest in Saada and our 
support for the transfer of excess armored personnel carriers 
from neighboring countries (reftel), Saleh decided he would 
benefit more from painting Iran as the bad guy in this case. 
End Comment. 
KHOURY