C O N F I D E N T I A L VILNIUS 000084
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/10/2019
TAGS: MARR MOPS PREL LH
SUBJECT: AMBASSADOR AND DEFENSE MINISTER PLAN FOR SECRETARY
Classified By: Senior Adviser Stephen Mull for REASONS 1.4 (B), (C) and (D).
Â¶1. (U) This cable is an action request. Please see paragraph five. Ambassador Seche is authorized to orally convey information in paragraphs 7-9 in delivering this demarche (but asked not to leave points in written form). Post may not/not provide these points in the form of a non-paper.
Â¶2. (S) OBJECTIVE: (a) To obtain ROYG cooperation with CENTCOM efforts to interdict the smuggling of weapons into Gaza, including through authorization of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and helicopter flights over Yemeni territorial waters. (b) To elicit Yemeni agreement to receive an interagency delegation to discuss additional means of cooperation including on enhancement of Yemen's own anti-smuggling capability.
Â¶3. (S) Background: On January 16, 2009, the USG signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Israel on the prevention of supply of arms and related materiel to terrorist groups. We are working on many fronts to implement this MOU, including through interdiction efforts by U.S. military assets in the region. CENTCOM has been tasked with responsibilities pertaining to military implementation of the MOU within its AOR.
Â¶4. (S//NF) We understand a significant volume of arms shipments to Hamas make the short 24-hour transit across the Red Sea from Yemen to Sudan. These shipments usually transit in small groups of flagged and unflagged dhows that use territorial waters, busy harbors, and mangroves to mask their routes and increase their likelihood of evading interception by U.S. or other forces. These intentional tactics, combined with the number of and similarity among vessels, make interdiction difficult once the vessels reach international waters. In a recent case, sparse intelligence and a dhow's use of Yemeni territorial waters allowed a known shipment of arms probably bound for Gaza to transit undetected in international waters past a searching U.S. warship.
Â¶5. (S) Obtaining Yemeni permission to fly Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and helicopters over Yemeni territorial waters would greatly enhance CENTCOM's ability to gain the intelligence required to identify and track the dhows as they enter international waters and increase the probability of successful interdiction. Accomplishing this would not/not require sending UAVs or helicopters into the airspace over Yemen's land territory.
Â¶6. (S/REL ROYG) Action Request: To fully support DoD's intent to disrupt and deter illicit arms smuggling, Embassy Sanaa is requested to approach ROYG at the highest appropriate level to request authorization for CENTCOM to fly Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and helicopters over Yemeni territorial waters in an effort to better track dhows and make successful intercepts once they reach international waters.
Â¶7. (S/REL ROYG) Post is also requested to emphasize the importance of the broader interdiction effort to the USG and propose that the ROYG receive an interagency delegation to discuss means to maximize bilateral cooperation in this regard, including on enhancement of Yemen's own anti-smuggling capability.
Â¶8. (S//NF) Our arms interdiction efforts are focused on preventing shipments intended for Gaza. Nonetheless, Gaza-bound shipments represent only one aspect of the broader regional problem of arms smuggling from and through Yemen. The following points discuss several recipient groups and possible destinations (Gaza, Somalia) of arms smuggled from and through Yemen. Post may use its discretion in framing the scope of this conversation in order to maximize the prospects of a positive response. Post may not/not provide these points in the form of a non-paper.
Â¶9. (S/REL ROYG) Points for Oral Presentation: Arms Smuggling in Yemeni Coastal Waters In the past, we have had extensive discussions with your government about the ability of terrorists and other sub-state actors to acquire small arms/light weapons (SALW) sourced from Yemeni black markets and use them to conduct attacks elsewhere. For example, the Strela-2 (SA-7 GRAIL) manportable air defense systems (MANPADS) used in the 2002 attacks on a civilian airliner in Kenya were sourced in Yemen, as were small arms used to attack the US consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 2004. We welcome the steps your government has taken over the last several years to stem the influx of weapons to the Yemeni black market from external sources, to take illicit weapons off the streets, and to prevent terrorist access to lethal arms. However, we remain extremely concerned that arms smuggling activities originating in and/or transiting Yemen are still providing a destabilizing source of weapons for the region. The large quantities of black market weapons still available in Yemen are being exploited by regional smuggling networks to provide arms to various non-state actors, possibly including al-Qa'ida associated terrorist groups. (S//REL TO USA, YEM) We have specific information that a weapons smuggling network originating in Yemen is supplying weapons to individuals in Africa who are delivering them to various entities there, potentially including al-Qa'ida associated terrorist groups. (S//REL TO USA, YEM) According to recent information, an extremist associated with the al-Rashaydah tribe, Abu-Fu'ad al-Dindari, agreed to negotiate a weapons purchase between representatives of al-Rashaydah tribe in Sudan which is receiving weapons from Yemen through this network and Somalia-based al-Shabaab. (S//REL TO USA, YEM) This network also provides arms that are smuggled into the Gaza Strip. The weapons are transported by boat across the Red Sea to landing points in Sudan. The vessels are met either on shore or a short distance off the coast. Once landed, we assess that the goods are transported north by car through Sudan. (S//REL TO USA, YEM) We have been able to identify a number of the Yemeni members of this network, including several who are affiliated with al-Rashaydah tribe. One of the most prominent is Ibrahim Abu Hayth. Ibrahim owns at least one boat and may operate a fleet of small fishing vessels that are used to run money and weapons across the Red Sea between Yemen and Sudan. (U) This particular network has smuggled a wide variety of weaponry out of Yemen, including rockets, handguns, anti-armor rocket-propelled grenades, and anti-aircraft guns. (S) We have identified this network and some specific information on its activities. We believe, however, that other arms smuggling networks operating from and through Yemen may exist. (U) Yemen's geographical location and large black market weapons stocks, not to mention, the many armed groups active in the region that are seeking additional arms supplies, make it an inviting target for arms brokers and smugglers to exploit. (U) In Yemen and elsewhere in the region, small, privately-owned boats that can be diverted from legitimate commercial trade for smuggling purposes are widely available. The availability of these means of transport makes maritime counter-smuggling operations a potentially key element of any effort to stem this flow of weapons. (U) Such boats can easily transit the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf using the territorial waters of coastal states, including Yemen, in order to minimize the risks of interception in international waters. The large numbers of such boats that sail these waters adds to the challenges in identifying specific vessels engaged in illicit smuggling activities. (S//REL TO USA, YEM) We have, for example, identified Shaqra, Balhar, Al-Mukalla, Ras al-Sharmah, and Al-Ghayda on Yemen's south coast as possibly key smuggling havens or transit areas for weapons intended for Somalia and possibly elsewhere. End Text. CLINTON