US embassy cable - 08ADDISABABA2941

MORE ETHIOPIAN MFA THOUGHTS ON SOMALIA NEXT STEPS

Identifier: 08ADDISABABA2941
Wikileaks: View 08ADDISABABA2941 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Addis Ababa
Created: 2008-10-27 09:33:00
Classification: SECRET//NOFORN
Tags: PREL MOPS KPKO SO ET
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO5427
PP RUEHDE RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHDS #2941/01 3010933
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 270933Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2517
INFO RUCNSOM/SOMALIA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEPADJ/CJTF HOA PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 ADDIS ABABA 002941 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/23/2010 
TAGS: PREL, MOPS, KPKO, SO, ET 
SUBJECT: MORE ETHIOPIAN MFA THOUGHTS ON SOMALIA NEXT STEPS 
 
REF: A. ADDIS ABABA 2867 
     B. ADDIS ABABA 2848 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR DONALD YAMAMOTO.  REASON: 1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
1.  (S/NF)  Summary.  In response to the Ambassador's 
pushback that Ethiopia not hijack the upcoming Nairobi summit 
with radical "regime change," Ethiopian State Minister for 
Foreign Affairs Dr. Tekeda Alemu told the Ambassador on 
October 21 that the Ethiopian government saw three available 
options to deal with the political instability in Somalia: 
first, maintain the status quo within the Somali Transitional 
Federal Government (TFG), keep TFG President Abdullahi Yusuf, 
and wait for the Djibouti process to work; second, replace 
TFG Prime Minister Hassan Hussein Nur Adde; and third, change 
president, prime minister, and speaker, but keep the existing 
parliament.  Of the three, Tekeda suggested that the most 
workable option might be a "status quo plus" option where the 
intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) ministers, 
at the upcoming summit in Nairobi, would urge Yusuf to work 
with PM Nur Adde towards a post Yusuf transition government 
that would include elements of the opposition Alliance for 
the Reliberation of Somalia (ARS).  Tekeda speculated that a 
post Yusuf era might see the ascendancy of a Hawiye/Haber 
Gedir/Ayr president and a Darood prime minister.  Tekeda also 
said deteriorating Ethio-Sudanese relations were complicating 
Ethiopia's coordination within IGAD on Somalia.  Separately 
on October 24, Ethiopian Special Envoy to Somalia Abdetta 
Dribssa told the Ambassador that Ethiopia's objective at the 
summit was to create political conditions that would allow 
the Ethiopian military to withdraw from Somalia without 
leaving a vacuum.  Abdetta said those conditions may or may 
not include changing the TFG leadership.  Abdetta was also 
concerned that the summit could get "out of hand" as no one 
could control what the TFG parliament would do.  Abdetta said 
the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) force commander 
General Okello was insisting that if the Ethiopian military 
withdrew from Mogadishu, AMISOM wanted to leave in advance of 
the Ethiopians.  Abdetta also reported that progress was 
being made on the establishment of a new Benadir 
Administration.  Embassy Addis Ababa notes that although 
Prime Minister Meles and senior MFA officials have toned down 
their "remove Yusuf" rhetoric over the past week, the 
Ethiopian government remains convinced that a major shake-up 
within the TFG is necessary for any positive political 
progress in Somalia.  End Summary. 
 
Ethiopia's Options on the Way Forward for Somalia 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
2.  (S/NF)  Ethiopian State Minister Tekeda said the 
increasing violence and instability in Mogadishu was derived 
from political instability.  If not addressed, violence will 
increase and allow extremists to add to instability and 
threaten Ethiopia's security.  The Ethiopian government saw 
three options to deal with the political crisis:  (1) 
maintain the status quo:  keep Yusuf and allow the Djibouti 
process to work,  (2) replace PM Nur Adde, or (3) change the 
president, PM, and speaker, but avoid at all cost changing 
the parliament.  Dr. Tekeda said that PM Meles said on 
October 21 that "caution" was critical, that the IGAD summit 
"must not get out of hand,"  and that finding a solution to a 
"post-Yusuf era" was essential without creating more 
instability. 
 
3.  (S/NF)  Dr. Tekeda suggested  that a "status quo plus" 
option might be preferable.  That is to seriously warn Yusuf 
to support PM Nur Adde, work towards a transition (post 
Yusuf), include the ARS in government, and stress the 
importance of international support (money, etc.).  Dr. 
Tekeda said this "status quo plus" was the most "stable" 
among the three options, but assumes that the international 
community will actively help.  However, he acknowledged that 
in the end this option still may not lead to a workable 
solution.  Dr. Tekeda repeated that everything is and must be 
open for discussion at the IGAD summit, but there must be 
careful consultations:  UN Special Representative to Somalia 
Amedou Ould-Abdallah must be "reigned in" and work within the 
IGAD process, the ARS must be part of the solution, Djibouti 
must be the site of future meetings, and the parliamentarians 
must be carefully cultivated, and not alienated, altered, or 
changed.  Tekeda said his government was currently meeting 
with Djiboutian officials who are not happy about the IGAD 
summit to gain their support.  (Note: Ethiopia was opposed to 
 
ADDIS ABAB 00002941  002 OF 004 
 
 
holding the IGAD summit in Nairobi because they distrust the 
motivations of the international community represented there, 
and they view as counterproductive what they perceive as a 
lack of coordination between the international community and 
the NGOs, particularly within the various organs of the 
United Nations. End Note.) 
 
4.  (S/NF)  Tekeda emphasized that a post Yusuf era would be 
designed and implemented by the Somalis themselves.  Dr. 
Tekeda speculated that a Hawiye/Haber Gedir/Ayr clan member 
might be the president, and the prime minister would then 
most likely be a Darood.  But Dr. Tekeda cautioned that 
removing Yusuf could be dangerous and unstable because it was 
not clear how the Majerteen clan would react.  Whatever 
option was selected, Dr. Tekeda stressed that there must be 
consultations with the IGAD group of ministers, and the 
Somalis themselves, and that this would take time. 
 
5.  (S/NF)  Tekeda said deteriorating Ethio-Sudanese 
relations were also a complication to IGAD coordination on 
Somalia.  On October 21, Sudanese officials raided the 
Ethiopian defense attachQ's house in Khartoum, temporarily 
arrested the sister (who has diplomatic immunity), and took 
materials from the house.  Dr. Tekeda said this was being 
handled quietly to avoid losing Sudan at the IGAD summit. 
But Sudan is being more bold, Dr. Tekeda said, in responding 
to EthiopiaQ,s relations with the Sudanese People's 
Liberation Army (SPLA), particularly arms transfers, and was 
trying to use Eritrea to undercut, and keep pressure on 
Ethiopia.  Ethio-Sudanese tensions would continue to 
increase, and be more difficult to manage, Dr. Tekeda 
speculated. 
 
6.  (S/NF)  The Ethiopian government envisions that the IGAD 
summit will include: (1) ministerial meetings (pre-meetings 
have already begun); (2) briefings by envoys; and (3) a 
meeting between ministers and parliamentarians, but the 
modalities have not been set as to who will attend and who 
will speak, and Tekeda assessed that this meeting could be 
the most contentious. 
 
Abdetta: IGAD is About Ethiopian Withdrawal From Somalia 
--------------------------------------------- ----------- 
 
7.  (S/NF)  On October 24 in a separate meeting, Ethiopia's 
Special Envoy to Somalia Abdetta Dribssa told the Ambassador 
and PolOff that Ethiopia's objective for the IGAD summit was 
to obtain "concrete action" from the TFG in order to 
facilitate Ethiopia's withdrawal from Somalia.  He said "all 
the options were bad," and contained inherent risks.  Abdetta 
noted that at IGAD if the TFG could be made to "work" without 
changing the TFG leadership, that was acceptable, but was 
skeptical that this was possible.  Rather, he said, a 
leadership change may be necessary to produce a functional 
government.  Nevertheless, Ethiopia could not continue to 
remain in Somalia for much longer.  He said Ethiopia's 
deployment was too expensive, the TFG was failing, and 
Ethiopia was not getting any help from the international 
community.  He stressed that if the international community 
wanted Ethiopia to remain in Somalia until either the TFG was 
able to stand on its own, or until a fully capable 
international peacekeeping force was deployed, then the 
international community should act to support Ethiopia.  He 
asserted that Ethiopia would withdraw from Somalia within the 
next few months, but it was up to the international community 
to help shape what would be left behind. 
 
8.  (S/NF) Abdetta said personally he was concerned that the 
summit could get out of hand.  He said no one could really 
control the parliament.  He stated that the mood within the 
parliament was for "regime change," and that the ministers 
had enough votes to impeach President Yusuf if they decided 
to do so.  He said Yusuf's signing of the Addis Ababa 
Agreement in August had backfired, and that the anti-Yusuf 
movement within the parliament was gaining strength.  The 
speaker was also a problem, and taking an increasingly 
anti-Yusuf stance. 
 
9.  (S/NF)  Abdetta also criticized Ould-Abdallah for 
spending too much energy negotiating between the TFG and the 
ARS about an Ethiopian withdrawal, which Ethiopia would 
decide on its own, rather than focusing on reconciliation and 
political progress that would establish a functioning TFG. 
He emphasized that Somalia needs a functioning government, 
 
ADDIS ABAB 00002941  003 OF 004 
 
 
not endless rounds of talks that produce nothing, and have no 
impact on the ground.  He noted that Ould-Abdallah was 
planning to have the cease-fire signed during the October 
25-26 Djibouti meetings, and then bring ARS/Djibouti to the 
Nairobi summit to discuss the formation of a unity 
government.  Abdetta added that the TFG itself was not fully 
on board with the Djibouti process, and he questioned how 
that process could continue without a change within the TFG. 
 
AMISOM Does Not Want to Be Left Behind 
-------------------------------------- 
 
10.  (S/NF)  Abdetta said he had improved relations between 
AMISOM and Ethiopia, and that they communicated on a regular 
basis.  He said the force commander, General Okello, told him 
that if the Ethiopians leave Mogadishu, AMISOM wanted to 
leave the city ahead of the Ethiopian military.  Under no 
circumstances did Okello want his forces left behind without 
Ethiopian troops in the area.  Okello also told Abdetta that 
President Yusuf had been attempting to blackmail Okello into 
using AMISOM to surround Bakara Market so that Yusuf's Darood 
militia could loot from the Hawiye merchants.  As blackmail, 
Yusuf was threatening to expose Okello as someone who had 
participated in the looting of the Democratic Republic of the 
Congo during Uganda's previous deployments there.  Okello 
also suggested to Abdetta that Ethiopia be formally brought 
into AMISOM as a peacekeeping partner to establish 
international recognition of Ethiopia's role in stabilizing 
Somalia.  Abdetta opined that Ethiopia might be convinced to 
stay in Somalia longer if the international community 
legitimized Ethiopia's Somalia deployment in such a fashion 
or made Ethiopia part of a future stabilization force. 
 
Update on a New Benadir Administration 
-------------------------------------- 
 
11.  (S/NF)  Since September, the Benadir region has been 
governed by a caretaker administration, but the selection 
process for new regional representatives was underway, 
according to Abdetta.  He said the regional council would be 
made up of 64 members with four members from each district, 
and an as of yet unidentified number of representatives drawn 
from the smaller subclans in the area.   Abdetta said 
President Yusuf appeared to be backing Mohammed Dheere, the 
most recent governor of Benadir, to be elected back into that 
post.  Yusuf fears that if Dheere was not re-instated, Yusuf 
would lose his ties to the Hawiye/Habir Gedir.  Dheere has 
been buying both weapons and votes to secure his 
reinstatement, according to Abdetta.  Although Dheere, on 
October 17, publicly accused PM Nur Adde of conspiring with 
al-Shabaab, Dheere and the Prime Minister met together on 
October 20.  Abdetta declined to discuss the content of the 
meeting.  The top two other candidates for Benadir were Abdul 
Qadr Osoble and Eng Abdi Jino, both of whom Abdetta said were 
worrisome because of their reported ties to extremists within 
the Islamic Courts.  He did not know when the new 
administration would be elected, but he speculated that it 
would be sometime after the IGAD summit. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
12.  (S/NF)  Since the Ambassador began pushing back against 
Ethiopia's plans for radical changes within the TFG, per 
instructions from Washington, both Prime Minister Meles (Ref 
A) and State Minister Tekeda have softened their rhetoric in 
conversations with EmbOffs, particularly towards the removal 
of President Yusuf.  Nevertheless, Meles and Tekeda continue 
to insist that, although "caution" is warranted, "all options 
are on the table," including the replacement of one or all of 
the three top TFG leaders.  The Ethiopian government is 
frustrated with the situation in Somalia, and they want out. 
Meles, Tekeda, and Abdetta, all apparently speaking from the 
same talking points, are instead covering their intentions by 
couching possible leadership changes more carefully in such 
terms as "it is for the Somalis to decide, not us."  Tekeda's 
previous comments (Ref B) were unequivocally clear that they 
have lost all faith in Yusuf and want him replaced.  It is 
also entirely possible that the TFG parliament itself could 
decide to change their leadership with no external 
encouragement.  Whatever happens with the leadership, 
Ethiopia will continue to insist that some elements of the 
ARS, probably including Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, are 
officially brought into the TFG, either during the summit or 
 
ADDIS ABAB 00002941  004 OF 004 
 
 
at some point thereafter.  We assess that the Ethiopian 
government remains convinced that a major shake-up of the TFG 
is needed for political progress, but other than seeking ARS 
inclusion, and looking for a "post Yusuf era," (sooner rather 
than later) we do not yet think they have decided on any 
specific option, and are cautiously feeling their way towards 
the IGAD summit where anything could happen.  End Comment. 
 
 
YAMAMOTO 

Latest source of this page is cablebrowser-2, released 2011-10-04