Daniel Berhane

A Leaked US Embassy Cable reveals that Pres. George Bush’s favorite General cautioned PM Meles Zenawi against ‘a rush into conflict’, less than three weeks before Ethiopian troops marched into Somalia. The advise came from General John Abizaid, Commander of  the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) which oversees American military operations in a 27-country region, from the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, to South and Central Asia, covering much of the Middle East, at the time. (Note: In late 2007, United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) tookover Horn of Africa from CENTCOM).

It is to be recalled that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said, during a press conference in January 2007, that General Abizaid told him that ‘you[Ethiopia] are on your own if you go to Somalia’.General John Abizaid - the longest-serving commander of United States Central Command as well as  Afghanistan and Iraq - retired from the Army in May, 2007

In fact, General Abizaid was not the only one to express such skepticism, as a Dec. 08., 2006 Cable of US Embassy Addis Ababa reveals.

The Cable states that:

* Recent U.S. visitors to Ethiopia have advocated a message of caution to Prime Minister Meles and raised potential consequences of Ethiopian deployment of troops in possible military action in Somalia. While Meles has consistently underscored the threat of al-Shabaab and other extremist elements of the Councl Islamic Courts (CIC) to regional stability, and the seemingly inevitable nature of military conflict, Meles recently altered his message and noted to us that his forces will "take their time," carefully analyzing the situation in Somalia. However, he told us that CIC attacks on the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Baidoa would prompt an immediate reaction by Ethiopia in defense of the TFG.

* In five meetings with Prime Minister Meles and separate meetings with Foreign Minister Seyoum and ENDF Chief of Staff General Samora during the week of November 27, the Ambassador and U.S. visitors, including General Abizaid and Senator Feingold, raised the need for Ethiopia to be cautious in taking any action in Somalia.

* General Abizaid articulated that Meles had time on his side and that a rush into conflict would yield immediate victories against "technicals" (foot soldiers), but not enhance security for Ethiopia. Senator Feingold raised potential consequences of any action in Somalia. General Samora noted to us that there was no "massing of troops" by the CIC. The al-Shabaab were operating in small units, along with their foreign supporters, particularly the Eritreans, who have supplied several hundred advisors/trainers, according to the Ethiopian military. The lack of a clear target would make any conventional combat operations potentially difficult. Meles noted that small unit tactics would be effective in neutralizing the CIC extremists and their foreign supporters.

The Cable also shows the Ethiopian officials were still hesitating on the military option and hoping for a IGASOM (IGAD-Somalia) peacekeeping force, just weeks before the launching of the military offensive. The Cable states that:

* In a shift in approach, Meles told us December 6 that military action against al-Shabaab units and other CIC forces would not be immediate. He said he would "take time" to fully analyze the situation in Somalia. He stated, however, that an attack by the CIC against the TFG would elicit an immediate response by Ethiopia and other forces from Somaliland, Puntland and the TFG to keep the TFG from collapsing.

* Prime Minister Meles and Foreign Minister Seyoum have clearly articulated that extremist elements are taking over the CIC through intimidation and threats. As noted in a UN report, support from Eritrean advisors as well as assistance from Iran and Syria are preventing the vast majority of moderates within the CIC from taking a leadership role. If the extremists are not dealt with immediately, both politically and militarily, they will further consolidate their control over the CIC, overthrow the TFG and threaten the security of the neighboring states. Meles said IGASOM is important and expressed his appreciation to the U.S. for coordinating with the EU in getting IGASOM approved by the UNSC. Meles observed that it will take time for IGASOM to become established. He questioned what states would participate, especially facing a hostile CIC which opposes IGASOM. But once IGASOM is operational, he added, it will play a crucial role protecting the TFG, forcing the CIC to negotiate with the TFG in a serious manner and boost hopes for moderates to take over the CIC.

* Meles underscored that to support IGASOM’s formation, it will be necessary for Ethiopia and other troops to take short military actions against the extremist elements of the CIC. This will keep them "off-balance" and send a clear message that the regional states will not tolerate extremists holding any position of authority in the CIC. Once this message has been conveyed, Meles believes that IGASOM will have a better chance to succeed.

After noting that ‘the CIC had issued an assassination list against him and several other TFG leaders’, the Embassy commented on the Cable that: ‘it [the drawing of an assassination list] was a clear indication that the CIC and its foreign supporters seek to overthrow the TFG. While the TFG fully supports IGASOM, Gedi, unlike Meles, was not forthcoming in dialoguing with the CIC’.

The US Embassy in Addis had even a list of recommendations on how to avert the impending Ethiopian military intervention. The Embassy believed:

To support stability in the region and ease Ethiopian anxieties, it will be necessary to take the following actions:
— get an effective IGASOM force up and running quickly to defend the TFG and force the CIC to dialogue seriously;
— Solicit the support of African and Arab leaders to push for moderation by the CIC and advocate a dialogue; (AU Chairman Konare remarked that too many leaders recognized the threat of extremism in Somalia but have been silent. Their voices will be important in supporting the TFG and moderation within the CIC.)
— Support Somaliland and Puntland and their efforts to resist extremism;
— Greater international support for institution-building and dialogue in Somalia;
— Greater international outcry against extremist/terrorist groups and their foreign supporters, particularly those nations cited in the UN report;
— Condemnation of Eritrea for expanding its war against Ethiopia.

Six months earlier, General Abizaid was in Ethiopia to discuss the same issue with the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Chief of the Ethiopian National Defense Forces(ENDF). The meetings with the latter two are presented in two US Embassy Cables, dated June 21 and June 22, 2006. However, there is no Cable detailing the June 19/20 meeting of Meles Zenawi and Gen. Abizaid .

The June 21, 2006 Cable states that:

* Samora [Yenus] expressed his personal view that U.S. policy supporting the warlords had failed. He criticized the U.S. for not consulting with Ethiopia before embarking on this path. He questioned U.S. intentions in Somalia and whether or not senior policy understood Eritrea’s role in the current situation. [Emphasis mine]

* Samora criticized the U.S. for not supporting the TFG, especially after IGAD had decided to support it. He said the U.S. did not support the IGAD decision to send peacekeepers to Somalia. The first force would have consisted of Kenyans, Ethiopians, Djiboutian, Sudanese and Ugandans. He added that even after IGAD modified the force, removing the front line states, to consist only of Sudanese and Ugandans, the U.S. would not support the plan. He stressed the importance of U.S. working together with Ethiopia to resolve the current problem.

Two days later, General Abizaid met the Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs. A Cable, dated June 22, 2006, presents the meeting as follows:

When asked by General Abizaid about the dynamics of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), the Foreign Minister said we need to keep strong lines of communication between the United States and Ethiopia. He said Ethiopia is frustrated that there was no strategic consultation with Ethiopia on Somalia. He stressed that at least consultation should occur. Seyoum added that there does not necessarily need to be agreement, but we should at least talk. Seyoum said the situation in Somalia has backfired.

Concerning Ethiopian intentions in Somalia, Seyoum stated he had brought some "hardliner" UIC representatives to Addis Ababa for discussions on at least two occasions (the last time being June 17-18). He explained how Ethiopia communicated a clear message to stop military expansion, and told the hardliners the forces in Beledweyne need to pack and go back to Mogadishu. If the TFG is attacked, Seyoum said, Ethiopia will intervene regardless of the response from the international community. Seyoum told the General that the UIC response was they would pull back and they would not go to Baidoa. Seyoum said Ethiopia is not over estimating or over exaggerating the threat, however.

The Charge commented there is slow movement on strategic issues and noted differences on how to protect the TFG: an IGAD force, African Union declaration, and/or neighboring countries to send troops. Seyoum responded by saying there is a problem if IGAD is not there and the militants move toward Baidoa. This would result in the dismantling of the TFG, and then there would be no choice but to intervene and fight the UIC. He said Ethiopia is doing the best thing: closely monitoring the situation and reinforcing the border. Having the UIC is okay, says Seyoum, though it is not comfortable. He added that having the UIC in Beledweyne and Baidoa is unacceptable, however. He continued by saying that if fighting occurs and if Ethiopia intervenes, then nothing will stop Ethiopia from going to Mogadishu.

The Minister said the problem currently is the timing, capability and desire of various countries to send troops. Ethiopia has the capability to move quickly. Uganda cannot move without international funding. A declaratory statement would be helpful. Ethiopia does not want undermine the UN by intervening, but it cannot sit back. Washington argues that foreign troops will unite Somalia, but forces have already united under the UIC. We cannot allow Somalia to become a safe haven. [Emphasis mine]

********

Read below the full text of the three Cables.

Note: This is the fifth post of the Ethiopia’s Somalia intervention 2006 series. The series presents about 17 US Embassy Cables from Oct-Dec. 2006 which casts light on the role of US and other parties on the eve of Ethiopia’s Dec. 2006 military operation in Somalia. You can Catch-up with the first post – here (link), the second post – here (link), the third post – here (link), the fourth post here – (link) OR find all the posts in the series – here (link).

****************

Reference ID  – 06ADDISABABA3240
Created – 2006-12-08 11:42
Released – 2011-08-30 01:44
Classification – CONFIDENTIAL
Origin – Embassy Addis Ababa

VZCZCXRO0121
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #3240/01 3421142
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 081142Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3634
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ADDIS ABABA 003240
SIPDIS
SIPDIS
DEPT FOR AF AND AF/E
LONDON, PARIS ROME FOR AFRICA WATCHER
CJTF-HOA FOR POLAD
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/07/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV MOPS KISL KPKO ET SO ER

SUBJECT: ETHIOPIA: MELES ALTERS STANCE ON MILITARY ACTION ON SOMALIA
REF: A. ADDIS 3212
B. ADDIS 3211
C. ADDIS 3162
D. ADDIS 3206
Classified By: AMBASSADOR DONALD YAMAMOTO FOR REASONS 1.4 B AND D

1. (C) Summary: Recent U.S. visitors to Ethiopia have advocated a message of caution to Prime Minister Meles and raised potential consequences of Ethiopian deployment of troops in possible military action in Somalia. While Meles has consistently underscored the threat of al-Shabaab and other extremist elements of the Councl Islamic Courts (CIC) to regional stability, and the seemingly inevitable nature of military conflict, Meles recently altered his message and noted to us that his forces will "take their time," carefully analyzing the situation in Somalia. However, he told us that CIC attacks on the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Baidoa would prompt an immediate reaction by Ethiopia in defense of the TFG.

2. (C) Meles argues that extremist elements are taking control of the CIC and must be dealt with now before they are too strong, potentially destabilitizing the regional states. Meles sees IGASOM as essential in protecting the TFG, moderating the CIC threat, and supporting moderates within the CIC. But he does not see IGASOM as an immediate reality, and thus Ethiopia will need to take short military actions jointly with forces from the TFG, Somaliland and Puntland. This will be necessary, Meles argues, to keep al-Shabaabs and extremist elements "off-balance" until an IGASOM force can be deployed.

3. (C) COMMENT: While the extremist elements of the CIC pose a clear and significant threat to Ethiopia and regional states, Meles faces the equally challenging threat of internal instability from ethnic tensions, local elections next April, and demands for political reform. The next several months will see serious challenges to Meles’ government as he deals simultaneously with the external security threat and internal political situation. End Summary.

A Tale of Caution
——————
4. (C) In five meetings with Prime Minister Meles and separate meetings with Foreign Minister Seyoum and ENDF Chief of Staff General Samora during the week of November 27, the Ambassador and U.S. visitors, including General Abizaid and Senator Feingold, raised the need for Ethiopia to be cautious in taking any action in Somalia. General Abizaid articulated that Meles had time on his side and that a rush into conflict would yield immediate victories against "technicals" (foot soldiers), but not enhance security for Ethiopia. Senator Feingold raised potential consequences of any action in Somalia. General Samora noted to us that there was no "massing of troops" by the CIC. The al-Shabaab were operating in small units, along with their foreign supporters, particularly the Eritreans, who have supplied several hundred advisors/trainers, according to the Ethiopian military. The lack of a clear target would make any conventional combat operations potentially difficult. Meles noted that small unit tactics would be effective in neutralizing the CIC extremists and their foreign supporters.

5. (C) In a shift in approach, Meles told us December 6 that military action against al-Shabaab units and other CIC forces would not be immediate. He said he would "take time" to fully analyze the situation in Somalia. He stated, however, that an attack by the CIC against the TFG would elicit an immediate response by Ethiopia and other forces from Somaliland, Puntland and the TFG to keep the TFG from collapsing.

Self-Defense — Fending off Terrorism
————————————-
6. (C) Prime Minister Meles and Foreign Minister Seyoum have clearly articulated that extremist elements are taking over the CIC through intimidation and threats. As noted in a UN
ADDIS ABAB 00003240 002 OF 003
report, support from Eritrean advisors as well as assistance from Iran and Syria are preventing the vast majority of moderates within the CIC from taking a leadership role. If the extremists are not dealt with immediately, both politically and militarily, they will further consolidate their control over the CIC, overthrow the TFG and threaten the security of the neighboring states. Meles said IGASOM is important and expressed his appreciation to the U.S. for coordinating with the EU in getting IGASOM approved by the UNSC. Meles observed that it will take time for IGASOM to become established. He questioned what states would participate, especially facing a hostile CIC which opposes IGASOM. But once IGASOM is operational, he added, it will play a crucial role protecting the TFG, forcing the CIC to negotiate with the TFG in a serious manner and boost hopes for moderates to take over the CIC.

7. (C) Meles underscored that to support IGASOM’s formation, it will be necessary for Ethiopia and other troops to take short military actions against the extremist elements of the CIC. This will keep them "off-balance" and send a clear message that the regional states will not tolerate extremists holding any position of authority in the CIC. Once this message has been conveyed, Meles believes that IGASOM will have a better chance to succeed.

8. (C) In a separate meeting (Ref A), TFG Prime Minister Gedi told us that the CIC had issued an assassination list against him and several other TFG leaders. It was a clear indication that the CIC and its foreign supporters seek to overthrow the TFG. While the TFG fully supports IGASOM, Gedi, unlike Meles, was not forthcoming in dialoguing with the CIC.

Internal Challenges:
——————-
9. (C) At the same time, Meles faces serious challenges. Ethnic tensions are increasing as reflected by replacements of some Amharic and Oromo military leaders with Tigrayan officers loyal to Meles, and widening the political divide among ethnic groups. Ethiopia heads into local elections in April 2007 with facing uncertain prospects for participation by both opposition candidates and voters. While progress is being made in negotiations over release/pardons of prominent opposition leaders detained since November 2005, participation by opposition parliamentarians in the political process, and forward movement on political reform in the Parliament and media openness, the open dialogue between the government and the opposition has recently stalled.

Comment:
——–
10. (C) The Embassy continues to push the government on reform and work with the opposition in advocating a dialogue between them and the government. We are also supporting efforts to negotiate the release of CUD and associated detainees, and are pushing for greater economic and political reforms. Significant progress has been made, but the focus on the security threat from extremists in Somalia and the involvement of Eritrea and support from other foreign groups are diverting attention from democratic reforms to national security. Working with the government on both tracks will be challenging and faced with many obstacles. To support stability in the region and ease Ethiopian anxieties, it will be necessary to take the following actions:
— get an effective IGASOM force up and running quickly to defend the TFG and force the CIC to dialogue seriously;
— Solicit the support of African and Arab leaders to push for moderation by the CIC and advocate a dialogue; (AU Chairman Konare remarked that too many leaders recognized the threat of extremism in Somalia but have been silent. Their voices will be important in supporting the TFG and moderation within the CIC.)
— Support Somaliland and Puntland and their efforts to resist extremism;
— Greater international support for institution-building and dialogue in Somalia;
— Greater international outcry against extremist/terrorist
ADDIS ABAB 00003240 003 OF 003
groups and their foreign supporters, particularly those nations cited in the UN report;
— Condemnation of Eritrea for expanding its war against Ethiopia. (Senator Feingold questioned why the Administration has been silent on Eritrean human rights violation and military activities to destabilize the region. We suggested to the Senator that Congress can also take a role in highlighting Eritrean misdeeds.) End Comment.
YAMAMOTO
****************

Reference ID – 06ADDISABABA1708
Created – 2006-06-21 15:18
Released – 2011-08-30 01:44
Classification – CONFIDENTIAL
Origin – Embassy Addis Ababa

VZCZCXRO6342
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #1708/01 1721518
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 211518Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1244
INFO RHMFISS/CJTF HOA IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ADDIS ABABA 001708
SIPDIS
SIPDIS
DEPARTMENT FOR AF DAS YAMAMOTO AND AF/E
DJIBOUTI FOR A/S DR. FRAZER
LONDON, PARIS, ROME FOR AFRICA WATCHER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/15/2016
TAGS: PREL PTER MOPS ET SO

SUBJECT: ETHIOPIA: SAMORA REITERATES GOE POLICY ON SOMALIA TO GENERAL ABIZAID
REF: IIR 6 830 0174 06
Classified By: CHARGE VICKI HUDDLESTON FOR REASONS 1.4 (B,D).

1. (C) Summary. LTG Samora Yonus, Chief of General Staff, Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) met with Commander, U.S. Central Command General John Abizaid and the Charge June 19. Topics of discussion included CJTF-HOA presence in Ethiopia, the Somalia situation, Ethiopian military intentions, and the Ethiopia/Eritrea border situation. Yonus said Ethiopia will not accept an attack on the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and if Ethiopia intervenes it will only be to do "good" to break the momentum of the United Islamic Courts (UIC). He added that CJTF-HOA must leave the Ogaden until the ENDF destroys the ONLF. End Summary.

2. (C) Samora reiterated his previously stated position that Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) troops must depart the Ogaden. He said there is nothing to coordinate as the ENDF does not do civil affairs and humanitarian assistance projects. He likes the fact the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) does not attack U.S. forces. However, the last thing he wants is for the ONLF or al ittihad al islamiya (AIAI) to kill an American in the Ogaden. He said CJTF-HOA forces could return once the ENDF clears the ONLF and AIAI in three to four months time. The ONLF and AIAI are destabilizing the region. Samora said the ENDF is having success in its operations. He said the situation in the Ogaden is more delicate now because of the situation in Somalia. Samora said Bilate and Hurso training could continue and it was only the U.S. that raised these locations. He added he alone made the decision concerning the Ogaden due operational considerations. Samora would not consider the long term benefit of keeping U.S. personnel in Gode.

3. (C) Shifting to the situation in Somalia, Samora began by stating the United Islamic Courts (UIC) are not that big or well organized and uses religion. (DATT comment: The Ethiopian head of military intelligence said the opposite that the UIC is well organized with a command and control structure see IIR 6 830 0175 06 Ethiopian intelligence head views on the United Islamic Courts. End Comment.) He said they are not comprised of regular soldiers and clerics comprise the main force. When pressed several times Samora never gave a precise number of UIC fighters. He added warlord Ganyare is selling his arms and ammunition and the funds are deposited in banks in Djibouti.

4. (C) Samora said the Ethiopia has directed the UIC to pull back from Beledweyne. If they do not pull back the ENDF will go in and attack. He noted only 70 UIC fighters took over Beledweyne without a fight. Samora said the ONLF and AIAI use this area to stage their movements into Ethiopia. He added about 640 ONLF and AIAI fighters, the last of the group training in Eritrea, recently arrived in an area outside of Beledweyne.

5. (C) Samora said Ethiopia would not accept an attack on the TFG, referring to Baidoa. He said the UIC does not accept the TFG. He stressed the ENDF had not entered Somalia, but is following the situation seriously. The ENDF continues its preparations and planning for a mission in Somalia. He said attacking in Somalia makes the ENDF Ogaden operations easier. (DATT comment: This would allow the ENDF to eliminate the training and logistics bases the ONLF and AIAI have in Somalia. End Comment.)

6. (C) Samora said the UIC does not have big armaments. They have technicals and perhaps a few armored personnel carriers (APCS). He said they get their funding from Arab countries and weapons and ammunition from Yemen. He said the ENDF knows exactly where the UIC are. He added Ethiopia knows the location of the Eritrean officer who is the coordinating commander.

7. (C) Samora said Ethiopia has two objectives if it intervenes in Somalia — national security and the more difficult and complex mission per the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) decision to protect and defend the TFG. He added the TFG has little military capability and its number of effective fighters fluctuates.
ADDIS ABAB 00001708 002 OF 002

8. (C) Samora responded to a question concerning any requirements the ENDF might have for operations in Somalia. He said the ENDF did not need much more equipment. It would need infantry and helicopters. It would keep its forces on the border. The ENDF over the weekend moved three companies of aghazi commandos to Ferfer and Geladi. He said the U.S. and Ethiopia need to work to coordinate activities, especially concerning peacekeeping forces.

9. (C) Samora said there are foreign fighters in Mogadishu, but not on the front line with the UIC.

10. (C) The chief of general staff is not worried that ENDF inside Somalia would strengthen the UIC. He said it would not strengthen the UIC but it would strengthen the TFG.

11. (C) Samora responded to the question concerning the Ethiopia/Eritrea border situation. He said it was okay with no change in attitude and the issue remains. He said Eritrea’s capability to start a war is changing. He added the rainy season in Eritrea has made the rivers full and that this would be a concern in September. He noted Eritrea wants instability in Ethiopia, hence its training and organizing of various Ethiopian opposition forces. He said Eritrea wants a weak Ethiopia. Samora said the ENDF would not pull forces off the northern front to support its operations in Somalia. He noted that while Ethiopia fought Eritrea previously it had forces in Baidoa. (DATT Comment: He made this point again on 20 June when DATT spoke alone with Samora. End Comment.)

12. (c) On 20 June 2006 DATT had an impromptu ten minute meeting with Samora. Samora believed the meeting on 19 June with General Abizaid been confrontational. DATT said it was a good meeting and Abizaid understood Samora’s position, though there were some differences. He asked how the meeting with Prime Minister Meles had gone. Samora then expressed his personnel view that U.S. policy supporting the warlords had failed. He criticized the U.S. for not consulting with Ethiopia before embarking on this path. He questioned U.S. intentions in Somalia and whether or not senior policy understood Eritrea’s role in the current situation.

13. (c) Samora criticized the U.S. for not supporting the TFG, especially after IGAD had decided to support it. He said the U.S. did not support the IGAD decision to send peacekeepers to Somalia. The first force would have consisted of Kenyans, Ethiopians, Djiboutian, Sudanese and Ugandans. He added that even after IGAD modified the force, removing the front line states, to consist only of Sudanese and Ugandans, the U.S. would not support the plan. He stressed the importance of U.S. working together with Ethiopia to resolve the current problem.
HUDDLESTON

****************

Reference ID – 06ADDISABABA1719
Created – 2006-06-22 11:58
Released – 2011-08-30 01:44
Classification – CONFIDENTIAL
Origin – Embassy Addis Ababa

VZCZCXRO7216
OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #1719/01 1731158
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 221158Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1262
INFO RHMFISS/CJTF HOA IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ADDIS ABABA 001719
SIPDIS
SIPDIS
DEPARTMENT FOR AF DAS YAMAMOTO AND AF/E
DJIBOUTI FOR A/S DR. FRAZER
LONDON, PARIS, ROME FOR AFRICA WATCHER
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/15/2016
TAGS: PREL PTER MOPS ET SO

SUBJECT: ETHIOPIA: FOREIGN MINISTER TELLS ABIZAID ETHIOPIA’S PREPARED RESPOND TO UIC PROVOCATION
Classified By: CHARGE D’AFFAIRES VICKI HUDDLESTON FOR REASONS 1.4 (B,D)

1. (C) Summary. Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin met with Commander, U.S. Central Command General John Abizaid and the Charge June 19 to discuss the GOE’s growing military force along the Somali border and its warning to the UIC that any perceived threat will be met with military action. Seyoum stressed the need to stop the momentum of the UIC and protect the TFG. He said Ethiopia has national security interests on the border and it will respond if provoked by the UIC. He continued by saying that if fighting occurs and if Ethiopia intervenes, then nothing will stop Ethiopia from going to Mogadishu. End Summary.

WILL NOT ALLOW A FUNDAMENTALIST GOVERNMENT TO THREATEN ETHIOPIA
——————————————— ——————
2. (C) When asked by General Abizaid about the dynamics of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), the Foreign Minister said we need to keep strong lines of communication between the United States and Ethiopia. He said Ethiopia is frustrated that there was no strategic consultation with Ethiopia on Somalia. He stressed that at least consultation should occur. Seyoum added that there does not necessarily need to be agreement, but we should at least talk. Seyoum said the situation in Somalia has backfired. The UIC, he noted, rely on sub-clan militias. The Foreign Minister added that, "there are only a few who follow the radical Islamic ideology and Ethiopia knows who they are. These are people who have been in Afghanistan and trained there. These individuals are fully exploiting the current situation in Somalia. They are taking advantage of the total collapse of the state structure. The UIC now provide minimal services such as schools, food, and security. The UIC is now winning at gaining hearts and minds in Somalia."

3. (C) Concerning Ethiopian intentions in Somalia, Seyoum stated he had brought some "hardliner" UIC representatives to Addis Ababa for discussions on at least two occasions (the last time being June 17-18). He explained how Ethiopia communicated a clear message to stop military expansion, and told the hardliners the forces in Beledweyne need to pack and go back to Mogadishu. If the TFG is attacked, Seyoum said, Ethiopia will intervene regardless of the response from the international community. Seyoum told the General that the UIC response was they would pull back and they would not go to Baidoa. Seyoum said Ethiopia is not over estimating or over exaggerating the threat, however. According to the Minister, Ethiopia has under estimated the threat. He added that Somalia is in absolute chaos with between 50,000 to 80,000 armed militia, even if the estimate is only having this figure there is problem. Additionally, the Somalia coast is open thus giving free access to extremists.

4. (C) Abizaid asked Seyoum if Ethiopia is concerned that an Ethiopian military intervention could strengthen the UIC. Seyoum responded Ethiopia could not allow a fundamentalist government that threats the Ogaden. He commented the "useless" warlords are out and this could be a blessing in disguise. He stressed the need to stop the momentum of the UIC as it is moving region to region and especially if it targets the TFG. He noted the UIC is not monolithic and that fractures will likely emerge. He said Ethiopia has national security interests on the border. General Abizaid asked who is helping the UIC. Seyoum replied Eritrea has no money to provide. Seyoum surmised that it is difficult to know, but Libyan and Egyptian support would not be logical. Seyoum thought that wealthy Islamic NGOs out of religious obligation would provide support.

TFG ‘LAME DUCK,’ NEEDS ARMS EMBARGO LIFTED
——————————————
5. (C) The Foreign Minister said the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is a lame duck government because it lacks international support and this support is not coming. He said the TFG has tried its level best to divide the groups
ADDIS ABAB 00001719 002 OF 002
comprising the UIC. According to Seyoum, the TFG sees Somalia under the rule of law, a secular society, and fighting terrorism. But, Seyoum noted, it was unilaterally disarmed due to the UN Security Council arms embargo. Seyoum commented that the TFG must have the ability to establish its own security forces assisted and armed by foreign countries. Seyoum said the UN Security Council report stated the UIC get arms from foreigners. Seyoum stressed the U.S. and Ethiopia need to coordinate efforts to assist institutions and defend them and not allow them to collapse again.

6. (C) The Charge commented there is slow movement on strategic issues and noted differences on how to protect the TFG: an IGAD force, African Union declaration, and/or neighboring countries to send troops. Seyoum responded by saying there is a problem if IGAD is not there and the militants move toward Baidoa. This would result in the dismantling of the TFG, and then there would be no choice but to intervene and fight the UIC. He said Ethiopia is doing the best thing: closely monitoring the situation and reinforcing the border. Having the UIC is okay, says Seyoum, though it is not comfortable. He added that having the UIC in Beledweyne and Baidoa is unacceptable, however. He continued by saying that if fighting occurs and if Ethiopia intervenes, then nothing will stop Ethiopia from going to Mogadishu.

7. (C) The Minister said the problem currently is the timing, capability and desire of various countries to send troops. Ethiopia has the capability to move quickly. Uganda cannot move without international funding. A declaratory statement would be helpful. Ethiopia does not want undermine the UN by intervening, but it cannot sit back. Washington argues that foreign troops will unite Somalia, but forces have already united under the UIC. We cannot allow Somalia to become a safe haven. Qanyare is negotiating to sell his weapons to the UIC and transfer the money to banks in Djibouti.
HUDDLESTON

****************

Go to the Wikileaks archive OR the Ethiopia’s Somalia intervention 2006 series archive for related posts.

Comments

  1. Almost expected a mention of North Korea. This UN report’s claim that Iran & Syria support the fanatical wahabis of al shabab is nothing more than a propaganda ploy designed to push “bad press” for the up-coming targets of empire. The fanatics lifeline runs through the puppet monarchs performing the bidding of their Western masters.

Comments are closed.