US embassy cable - 90MOGADISHU1773

SOMALIS UNDULY GLOOMY OVER NEW CABINET

Identifier: 90MOGADISHU1773
Wikileaks: View 90MOGADISHU1773 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Mogadishu
Created: 1990-02-21 09:44:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PREL PINS PINR SO
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
P 210944Z FEB 90
FM AMEMBASSY MOGADISHU
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6980
INFO AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY BONN PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY NAIROBI PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY ROME PRIORITY
USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY
USCINCCENT MACDILL AFB FL//POLAD//CCJ2/CCJ4/7-S/CCJ5//
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOGADISHU 01773 
 
DEPT FOR INR/B 
 
E.O. 12356:  DECL: OADR 
TAGS:  PGOV, PREL, PINS, PINR, SO 
SUBJECT:  SOMALIS UNDULY GLOOMY OVER NEW CABINET 
 
REF:  MOGADISHU 1691 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
- 
2.  SUMMARY:  SEVERAL SOMALI FRIENDS CONFIDED DISAPPOINT- 
MENT TO US OVER THE WEEKEND ABOUT THE MAKEUP OF 
PRESIDENT SIAD'S NEW GOVERNMENT.  THEY GENERALLY 
CONSIDERED THE LINEUP POLITICALLY WEAK (THOUGH 
TECHNICALLY STRONGER) AND OF LITTLE VALUE TO THE POLITICAL 
REFORM PROCESS.  I'VE TOLD THEM THEY ARE TOO PESSIMISTIC, 
THAT I PERCEIVE A POLITICAL COMPROMISE NEUTRALIZING SOME 
IMPORTANT OPPONENTS OF REFORM AND LEAVING PRESIDENT SIAD 
FREE TO MOVE AHEAD -- IF HE WILL ONLY DO SO.  END 
SUMMARY. 
 
- 
POLITICALLY WEAK CABINET 
------------------------ 
 
3.  ABDULKADIR ADAN ABDULLAH, SON OF SOMALIA'S FIRST 
PRESIDENT AND SOMETIME POLITICAL PRISONER, SHOWED UP 
EARLY FOR OUR FAREWELL FUNCTION FOR DEPARTING ITALIAN 
AMBASSADOR FEBRUARY 17.  BEFORE OTHER GUESTS ARRIVED, 
ABDULKADIR COMMENTED THAT THE NEW LIST OF APPOINTMENTS 
LEFT PRESIDENT SIAD IN UNCHALLENGED CONTROL OF THE 
GOVERNMENT.  PRACTICALLY NONE OF THE NEW MINISTERS COULD 
CLAIM TO REPRESENT ANY POLITICAL OR TRIBAL FACTION, 
ABDULKADIR REMARKED.  ALL OF THEM WOULD BE VIEWED AS BEING 
ENTIRELY IN SIAD'S POCKET. 
 
- 
4.  PARTICULARLY TROUBLESOME TO ABDULKADIR WAS THE 
CHANGED SITUATION IN THE MILITARY AND AT THE DEFENSE 
MINISTRY, AS A RESULT OF GENERAL MORGAN'S SHIFT TO THE 
PUBLIC WORKS MINISTRY.  THIS, SAID ABDULKADIR, LEFT THE 
PRESIDENT'S SON GENERAL MASLAH IN UNCHALLENGED CONTROL 
OF THE ENTIRE MILITARY ESTABLISHMENT (SINCE DEFMIN 
"MATAN" , A CIVILIAN, IS CONSIDERED INCONSEQUENTIAL). 
ABDULKADIR COMMENTED THAT MORGAN'S PRESENCE IN THE DEFENSE 
MINISTRY HAD REPRESENTED SOME CONSTRAINT ON MASLAH, AND 
HE CLAIMED THAT TENSION HAD BEEN GROWING BETWEEN THE TWO. 
BUT MORGAN HAD, IN EFFECT, BEEN BOUGHT OFF BY BEING 
GIVEN THE LUCRATIVE PUBLIC WORKS PORTFOLIO IN EXCHANGE 
FOR SURRENDERING HIS MILITARY ROLE. 
 
- 
LITTLE IMPULSE TO REFORM 
------------------------ 
 
5.  ABDURRAHMAN OSMAN "SHUKEH" ALSO ARRIVED AT OUR 
LUNCHEON IN A MOOD IF DISAPPOINTMENT OVER THE CABINET 
ANNOUNCEMENT.  SHUKEH (WHO HAD HIMSELF DECLINED AN 
APPOINTMENT) WARNED THAT THIS CABINET WAS LIKELY TO DO 
LITTLE TO LEAD THE COUNTRY THROUGH CONSTITUTIONAL REVISIONS 
AND INTO MULTIPARTY ELECTIONS THIS YEAR.  HE SAID THE 
PRESIDENT HAD MISSED AN OPPORTUNITY TO GARNER SUPPORT FOR 
THE REFORM PROCESS WHICH HE COULD HAVE WON BY NAMING 
FIGURES TO THE NEW CABINET WHO COULD SPEAK FOR PARTICULAR 
INTEREST GROUPS IN THE COUNTRY.  INSTEAD, HE CHOSE TO 
NAME TECHNOCRATS AND PERSONS HE COULD EASILY MANIPULATE 
HIMSELF.  SHUKEH, WHO IS A FORMER MINISTER OF EDUCATION 
AND NOW SECRETARY OF THE PEOPLE'S ASSEMBLY, WAS NOT 
HOPEFUL THAT SIAD WOULD WIN MUCH CREDIBILITY AMONG 
SOMALIS WITH HIS NEW APPOINTMENTS NOR ACHIEVE THE POLITICAL 
CONSENSUS NEEDED FOR FUNDAMENTAL REFORMS. 
 
- 
A COMPROMISE BETWEEN RIVAL FAMILY GROUPS 
---------------------------------------- 
 
6.  EARLIER IN THE DAY, NURTA HAJI HASSAN, A LAWYER AND 
DEPUTY STATE COUNSEL AT THE PRESIDENCY, DROPPED BY THE 
RESIDENCE TO CHAT WITH MY WIFE.  SHE WATCHED MUCH OF THE 
SELECTION PROCESS FROM THE INSIDE OF VILLA SOMALIA OVER 
THE PAST 40 DAYS AND DESCRIBED THE OUTCOME AS A PAINFUL 
COMPROMISE BETWEEN OLD GUARD SUPPORTERS OF PRIME MINISTER 
SAMANTAR (INCLUDING THE PRESIDENT'S WIFE KHADIJA) AND 
MAREHAN-FIRST ELEMENTS OF THE FAMILY CONNECTED WITH FORMER 
FOREIGN MINISTER JAMA BARRE.  THE COMPROMISE CONSISTED 
ESSENTIALLY OF EXCLUDING OLD GUARD MEMBERS SULEIMAN 
ABDALLAH (EX-INTERIOR MINISTER), KULMIE AFRAH (EX-PUBLIC 
WORKS), AND MOHAMED SHEIKH OSMAN (EX-FINMIN) ON ONE SIDE; 
AND EXCLUDING JAMA BARRE HIMSELF ON THE OTHER SIDE, WHILE 
ADDING HIS PAL ABDULKADIR HAJI MQHAMED AS INTERIOR 
MINISTER. 
 
- 
7.  NURTA WAS NOT ENTIRELY NEGATIVE ABOUT THE RESULTS, 
AS SHE SAID IT MADE WAY FOR A NUMBER OF TECHNOCRATS AND 
CAPABLE YOUNGER MEN TO BE GIVEN PORTFOLIOS.  SOME OF THESE 
HAD PROVEN TO BE COMPETENT BUREAUCRATS AT THE DIRGEN OR 
EVEN VICE MINISTER LEVEL; OTHERS BROUGHT EXCELLENT 
CREDENTIALS FROM FOREIGN TRAINING TO THEIR JOBS. 
NEVERTHELESS, NURTA CONCEDED THAT THE CABINET WAS 
POLITICALLY A VERY WEAK ONE THAT COULD NOT BE EXPECTED TO 
SOLVE ANY OF THE COUNTRY'S DEEPER PROBLEMS. 
 
- 
BETTER ON THE INSIDE THAN THE OUTSIDE 
------------------------------------- 
 
8.  THE WIFE OF ISAAK POLITBURO MEMBER AHMED MOHAMOUD 
FARAH TOLD MRS. CRIGLER THAT HER HUSBAND IS NOT EXACTLY 
PROUD TO BE APPOINTED TO WHAT EVERYONE KNOWS WILL BE A 
PURELY CEREMONIAL POST AS DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER.  SHE 
SAID ISAAKS ARE NOT FOOLED BY HAVING ONE OF THEIR NUMBER 
ASSIGNED THE NUMBER TWO CABINET SLOT, BUT THEY CONSIDER 
IT USEFUL TO HAVE SOMEONE ON THE INSIDE KEEPING TRACK OF 
THINGS AND EXERCISING AT LEAST SOME MODERATING INFLUENCE 
ON THE PRESIDENT. 
 
- 
MAYBE OUR FRIENDS ARE TOO PESSIMISTIC 
------------------------------------- 
 
9.   SOMALIS LOVE TO LOOK ON THE DARK SIDE OF THINGS, AND 
THEY ESPECIALLY ENJOY READING NEGATIVE SIGNALS INTO 
WHATEVER THE PRESIDENT ATTEMPTS TO DO THESE DAYS.  I'VE 
TRIED TO SUGGEST THAT THERE IS A BRIGHTER SIDE TO THE 
NEW CABINET LIST: SPECIFICALLY, THAT IT INDEED DOES 
REPRESENT A COMPROMISE -- PERHAPS A VERY SIGNIFICANT ONE -- 
BETWEEN THE TWO MOST POWERFUL COMPETING GROUPS AT VILLA 
SOMALIA.  PERHAPS IN THE PROCESS THEY HAVE NEUTRALIZED 
EACH OTHER, LEAVING THE WAY OPEN FOR PRESIDENT SIAD 
HIMSELF TO SEIZE THE INITIATIVE AND REGAIN SOME MEASURE 
OF PERSONAL LEADERSHIP.  IF HE IS TRULY SERIOUS ABOUT 
REFORMS AND RECONCILIATION, THIS MAY BE OPPORTUNITY TO MOVE 
FORWARD DRAMATICALLY. 
 
- 
10.  THE REAL QUESTIONS REMAIN UNANSWERED: IS SIAD PREPARED 
TO SEIZE THE INITIATIVE AND BEGIN CAMPAIGNING SERIOUSLY FOR 
THE POLITICAL REFORMS THE COUNTRY NEEDS AND HE HAS 
PROMISED TO ACCEPT?  AND IF SO, IS HE PHYSICALLY AND 
MENTALLY CAPABLE OF EXERCISING THE KIND OF LEADERSHIP 
NEEDED TO ACHIEVE SUCH BASIC REFORMS?  UP TO NOW, HE HAS 
HAD TO BE DRAGGED KICKING AND SCREAMING BY OTHERS INTO 
THE REFORM PROCESS.  NOW THE WAY SEEMS OPEN, IF HE WILL 
TAKE ADVANTAGE, TO MOVE ON TO THE OFFENSIVE AND TAKE CHARGE 
OF THE REFORM PROCESS IN A POSITIVE SPIRIT.  UNLESS HE 
DOES SO, THERE WILL BE NO REFORMS -- AND SIAD HAS GOT TO 
RECOGNIZE THIS.  MY HOPE IS THAT OUR INTERLOCUTORS WILL 
FIND A WAY TO GET THIS MESSAGE BACK TO THE PRESIDENT AND 
PERSUADE HIM TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS NEW OPPORTUNITY TO 
SALVAGE HIS FAMILY AND TRIBAL INTERESTS, HIS REPUTATION, 
AND HIS OWN SKIN. 
 
CRIGLER 

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