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Yemen - Yemen President Takes Marching Orders From U.S. Embassy

By Richard Smallteacher, Wikileaks staff 6 February 2011

New cables released by Wikileaks show that the Yemeni government held 28 Yemeni citizens in prison on behalf of the United States, despite the fact that a Yemeni government investigation showed that “there was no evidence they were involved in terrorist acts.”

The cable (04SANAA3023), dated December 6, 2004, recounts a meeting between Thomas C. Krajeski, then U.S. ambassador to Yemen and Ali Abdullah Saleh, the current president of Yemen who has ruled the country since 1978. Saleh has been a long time supporter of U.S. policy in the Middle East and the cables provide evidence that he takes his marching orders directly from Washington in return for favors.

"We are waiting for information from you," Saleh was quoted as saying, to decide whether or not to release the 28 suspects for the annual Ramadan amnesty.

In return Saleh asked that the U.S. for a series of favors. "Where is the money for the Army, and what about my spare (F-5) parts?" he is quoted as saying. Saleh also asked the ambassador to convey “his strong desire to visit Washington to personally congratulate President Bush on his reelection and meet with newly appointed senior officials” to talk about “important new developments in the region "that can only be discussed face to face."

When the ambassador told Saleh that “any meetings with senior U.S. officials would quickly turn to the subject of Yemen’s huge grey market” in small arms and light weapons “that Yemen needs to gain control over.” "I will do it!" Saleh exclaimed, insisting that he was already "cracking down," according to the cable.

Saleh faces strong opposition in Yemen from a variety of political parties. Like Egypt and Tunisia, his country has seen major protests in the last few weeks, which has forced Saleh to announce that he will step down in 2013.