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Viewing cable 09SANAA1402, S/NF) PROGRESS ON US-ROYG COOPERATION TO REDUCE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09SANAA1402 2009-08-04 11:11 2010-12-03 21:09 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Sanaa
VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHYN #1402/01 2161158
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 041158Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY SANAA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2444
INFO RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 0236
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 0458
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 1652
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
S E C R E T SANAA 001402

NOFORN
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR NEA/ARP AMACDONALD AND PM/WRA SPICO AND
SCOSTNER

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/04/2019
TAGS: PARM PREL PTER MASS YM
SUBJECT: (S/NF) PROGRESS ON US-ROYG COOPERATION TO REDUCE
MANPADS THREAT

Classified By: Ambassador Stephen Seche for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (S/NF) SUMMARY.  On June 20-22, a PM/WRA delegation
visited Yemen to discuss MANPADS threat reduction efforts
with ROYG officials.  Since 2004, US-ROYG cooperation has
dramatically reduced the availability of MANPADS on the black
market in Yemen. Although the program has likely recovered
the bulk of the illicit MANPADS available on the black
market, several more will likely be collected in the coming
years.  MOD insists that there are no official MANPADS
stocks, and that they have already implemented necessary
stockpile security and inventory controls, but the
intelligence community and the National Security Bureau (NSB)
believe that is not the case.  The USG will offer the MOD,
through NSB interlocutors, payment for destruction of MOD
MANPADS and stockpile security upgrades.  ROYG officials seem
more receptive to a TSA-sponsored MANPADS Assist Visit.  END
SUMMARY.

BACKGROUND
----------

2. (S/NF) After years of uncontrolled weapons imports and the
chaos of the 1994 civil war, MANPADS were widely available on
the illicit arms market in Yemen, making these systems a
critical proliferation threat.  MANPADS that leaked from
official Yemeni stocks were used in al-Qaeda (AQ) operations
in Kenya, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen in 2001 and 2002.  In 2003,
the ROYG began collecting MANPADS from weapons souks
throughout the country, and in 2004 the USG agreed to
compensate the ROYG for the acquisition and destruction of
these and other black market MANPADS.  In February 2005,
US-ROYG cooperation resulted in the destruction of 1,161
MANPADS.

MEETINGS READOUT
----------------

3. (S/NF) On June 20-22, a PM/WRA delegation consisting of
Dennis Hadrick, PM/WRA Program Manager; Santo Polizzi, DHS
liaison; Nils Talbot, PM/WRA technical expert; and Laurie
Freeman, PM/WRA Foreign Affairs Officer, visited Yemen to
discuss US-ROYG cooperation to reduce the threat of MANPADS.
The delegation began with a June 20 meeting at the NSB with
Col. Hefed Al-Jamrah, the NSB official in charge of airport
security in Sana'a.  Polizzi briefed Jamrah on the MANPADS
threat to civilian aviation.  He also offered a MANPADS
Assist Visit (MAV), in which experts from the Transportation
Security Administration (TSA) identify airport
vulnerabilities to MANPADS attacks and recommend ways to
mitigate them.  Following the meeting, the delegation toured
the current airport and the site of the new airport.  During
the tour, several lapses in airport security practices were
observed regarding passenger screening, cargo security, and
Secure Identification Display Area (SIDA) badge and access
procedures.  Polizzi recommended that the TSA Representative
(TSAR) in Amman, Jordan be contacted for follow-on
discussions with airport officials.  NSB officials seemed
receptive to the MAV offer.

4. (S/NF) On June 21, the delegation met with NSB Deputy
Director Ammar Saleh to discuss ongoing efforts to acquire
MANPADS from the black market in Yemen.  Since the program's
inception in August 2004, this program had resulted in the
destruction of 1,161 black market MANPADS in 2005.  Hadrick
thanked the ROYG for its efforts, expressed the USG's
continued interest in supporting the program, and pressed the
ROYG to destroy an additional 102 MANPADS they had collected
since 2005.

5. (S/NF) Ammar Saleh agreed with USG assessments that the
majority of black market MANPADS had been collected in Yemen,
and said that a few more might trickle in with the increase
in price.  (Note: In July 2008, the price for first
generation systems was increased from $7,700 to $15,000. End
Note.)  The small quantity of illicit MANPADS that still
exist outside of state control in Yemen are in the hands of
tribal leaders or AQAP, neither of which is likely to part
with them at any price.  He could not estimate how many
MANPADS Yemeni tribal leaders possess, but he believes that
AQAP has six MANPADS (NFI).  Finally, he expressed skepticism
that the MOD would accept U.S. assistance to destroy its

official MANPADS stocks (an offer on the table since 2005).
He believes MOD would want a more modern air defense system
in return, not cash payment or stockpile security upgrades.
He offered to attempt to broker a cash-for-destruction deal.

6. (S/NF) Accompanied by NSB official Akram al-Qassmi, the
delegation visited a warehouse to view 96 MANPADS collected
between 2005 and May 2009 that were awaiting destruction.
(Note: These systems had already been verified by U.S.
personnel and disabled. End Note.)  The delegation verified
an additional six SA-7s, four SA-7 gripstocks, and six
batteries collected by the NSB since May 2009.  The
delegation disabled the six MANPADS and expended the six
batteries.

7. (S/NF) On their last day, June 22, the delegation
accompanied the Ambassador to a meeting with Minister of
Defense Mohammed Nasser Ahmed.  Ahmed denied that the MOD has
any MANPADS in its official stocks, saying that they had
already been handed over to NSB and destroyed.  (Note: This
is in direct contradiction to NSB,s June 21 assertion that
the MOD had excess stocks of MANPADS, but would part with
them only in exchange for a more modern air defense system.
End Note.) The Minister described the MOD's progress on SA/LW
issues since S/E Bloomfield's July 2008 visit.  He noted that
more than 250 weapons souks had been closed and more than 140
weapons dealers prosecuted.  Furthermore, he remarked that
the MOD has established an inventory system for all Armed
Forces and MOD weapons, all of which are now marked.  He
invited U.S. officials to visit the warehouses to see how the
system works.  Finally, the Minister shared the delegation,s
concerns about the airport,s MANPADS vulnerability, and said
that as a member of the Supreme Security Committee, he would
support a MAV.

NEXT STEPS
----------

8. (S/NF) Post worked with NSB to ensure that all 102
collected MANPADS were destroyed on July 27 (septel).  Post
has requested a meeting with the MOD Chief of Staff to
observe the stockpile security and inventory control system
reportedly in place.  Post will follow up with NSB to find
out whether it will accept a MAV and, if so, identify
possible dates for the assessment.  (Note: Despite
ministerial-level support, the final decision on the MAV will
be made by President Saleh.  End Note.)  Finally, Post will
work with the Department to present a specific offer to the
Yemeni government for assistance with physical security and
stockpile management (PSSM) and destruction and marking of
Yemeni SA/LW.

COMMENT
-------

9. (S/NF) It is hard to know what to believe regarding the
presence or absence of MOD MANPADS.  In a subsequent meeting
on June 27, XXXXXXXXXXXX told PolOffs that the MOD does indeed have
MANPADS, but would never speak of them because they are
considered a state secret.  While MOD realizes their MANPADS
are of little military value, they consider them better than
nothing and would turn them over for destruction only if they
were able to get a modern air defense system in return,
according to XXXXXXXXXXXX.  PolOffs agreed to continue negotiating
the destruction of MOD MANPADS through NSB interlocutors,
since the MOD appears unwilling to discuss the issue with USG
officials directly.  END COMMENT.
SECHE