Below is the Wikileaks cable on Somalia
NEW ETHIOPIAN OPTIONS FOR SOMALIA
(C/NF) On Somalia, Meles said that his government “had been reviewing our options,” and will present its recommendations to President Abdullahi Yusuf when he passes through Addis on his return from London. Meles said that he is hoping to withdraw most of our troops, if not all of them, by the summer. Meles was hopeful that additional forces from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) would be on the ground by the time of Ethiopia’s withdrawal, including the remaining Burundian forces and the Nigerian battalion, and that the forces from the TFG that had been trained by Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda would be able to play a greater role in maintaining security. At this point, the Ethiopian forces will withdraw to the Ethiopian side of the border, where they would be ready to respond quickly should something happen, but the combined TFG and AMISOM forces would be responsible for maintaining security. Meles noted that some elements within the TFG were mistakenly counting on an indefinite Ethiopian presence and said that he hoped that Ethiopia’s withdrawal would help those elements within the TFG become more flexible.
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(C/NF) At the same time, Ethiopia will pursue a second track of continuing to reach out to the opposition and helping to make the TFG “more effective.” Noting the complex clan balances in the Mogadishu and Kismaayo areas, Meles said that he was encouraging the TFG to form regional governments in both areas to help bring greater stability and help balance clan sensitivities. Meles said that he was continuing to engage with the Hawiye, particularly the Habir Gedir sub-clan, and that he was pleased that Ahmed Abdisalam Adan (Hawiye/Habir Gedir/Ayr) had been brought into the new TFG Cabinet as one of the Deputy Prime Ministers. In response to a question from A/S Frazer, Meles indicated that it may be possible for the TFG to dismiss Mogadishu Mayor Mohamed Dheere (Hawiye/Abgal). However, Meles seemed to be more concerned regarding the situation in Kismaayo, where the problems were within the Darood clan rather than the Hawiye.
(Comment: While President Yusuf is from the Darood/Mijerteen sub-clan, the Darood presence in Kismaayo is largely from the Darood/Marehan sub-clan. End Comment.)
(C/NF) Meles also noted that his government had been reaching out to the external opposition based in Asmara. Meles opined that the opposition seemed uncomfortable with the current situation and that it was now possible to bring the opposition back into a political process. Saudi Arabia could also play a helpful role in persuading some of the former members of the Council of Islamic Courts to come back into a political process, according to Meles. At the same time, said Meles, there are now divisions within the Shabaab, and “Aweys may no longer be in control” of the movement.
Meles emphasized the importance of isolating the Shabaab, building the capacity of the TFG, and reaching out to the opposition and key stakeholders. Meles said that he had discussed parts of this strategy with TFG Prime Minister Nur “Adde” Hassan Hussein, but that they were waiting to discuss the military components with President Yusuf first given his sensitivities on military arrangement.
(C/NF) A/S Frazer responded that this sounded like a good plan, but one that required lots of work both with AMISOM and the TFG. A/S Frazer noted that Ugandan President Museveni had offered–pending discussions with his officials at home–to deploy an additional two battalions under AMISOM if the U.S. could provide financial support, which we would try to do. Meles responded that this would be very helpful and said that he would speak to Museveni about this possibility. Meles also noted the importance of training an effective Somali police force and that he was hoping to train more Somali police if financial support could be identified.
A/S Frazer responded that we would see if we could identify any funds to support this effort.
US IMPROVING RELATIONS WITH SOMALILAND
(C/NF) Turning to Somaliland, A/S Frazer noted the recent visit of Somaliland President Dahir Rayale Kahin to Washington. While some may interpret this visit as a sign that the U.S. was on the verge of formal recognition, A/S Frazer clarified that the United States was not getting ready to recognize Somaliland, but believed that it was important to engage with them to ensure regional stability. At the same time, A/S Frazer said that the United States would not be opposed to Somaliland independence if it should happen within an AU context. A/S Frazer said that she had raised the issue with AU Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konare, who seemed to be placing unrealistic conditions for addressing the Somaliland issue. The first was that Somaliland negotiate with the government in Mogadishu, either the TFG or its successor, regarding its independence, and the second was that there be a regional consensus on Somaliland’s status, neither of which are likely to happen or result in any clear decisions.
(C/NF) Meles said that Ethiopia’s position on Somaliland was the same as that of the United States, but that the political situation within the AU was not yet ripe for addressing the Somaliland issue. Meles said that he met with Rayale upon his return from Washington and urged him to write to the AU requesting that they identify a timeframe for a discussion on the Somaliland issue. However, Rayale “messed things up” by essentially re-sending his previous letter requesting recognition and membership in the AU, rather than asking for a timeframe for a discussion on Somaliland. Meles said that, if Somaliland had taken the route that he suggested, it would have been likely that the issue could have been addressed soon. However, if the elections for a new AU Chairperson take place during the AU Summit, Meles said that the next chairperson is unlikely to be as positive towards Somaliland as Konare, which will only further delay any discussion of Somaliland.
(C/NF) Meles also noted the complications of the current political situation inside Somaliland with the delays in preparations for the municipal and presidential elections. While avoiding any specifics, Meles said that the clan dynamics in Somaliland were out of balance, but that it was important to convey to Rayale that he could not rely on “outside forces” to tilt the balance in his favor. Even if Ethiopia tried to intervene on Rayale’s behalf, Meles said, the effort would fail.
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