The Wikileaks cables released on 29 November include the minutes of a meeting between Yemeni President Saleh and other senior Yemeni officials with US General Petraeus in Sanaa, in January 2010.
The main thing to come out of the leaked cable is confirmation that US forces are operating in Yemen, and were responsible for collateral civilian deaths in recent airstrikes.
The leaked cable says, quoting the Yemeni President: "We'll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours," Saleh said, prompting Deputy Prime Minister Alimi to joke that he had just "lied" by telling Parliament that the bombs in Arhab, Abyan, and Shebwa were American-made but deployed by the (Yemeni military).
November 29, 2010
Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk
The attacks that are referred to in the cable were carried out in December 2009, and have allegedly led to over 30 civilian deaths. They were followed by riots in various parts of Yemen, amid allegations that the US supported the Yemeni forces. However, those then-allegations were quickly and forcefully denied by the Yemeni government.
The issue of American support for the Yemeni government is highly sensitive and contentious, given widespread anti-American sentiment in conservative Yemen. One of AQAP’s (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) main rallying cries in Yemen is that the Yemeni government is portrayed as “colluding” with the US in attacking Yemeni civilians. Now that there is confirmation that the US not only supported the Yemeni forces, but in fact carried out the attacks, tremendously undermines the position of the Yemeni regime.
It is noteworthy that Arab media, including Al Jazeera, have refrained from wide coverage of the allegations, and so it is not clear whether the information will be widely available. However, AQAP will almost certainly ensure the information is dissiminated to gather even greater support in Yemen, and further undermine the position of the Yemeni government.