wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
04DJIBOUTI734 2004-05-23 14:10:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Djibouti
Cable title:  

CJTF HOA COMMANDER'S FAREWELL CALL ON PRESIDENT

Tags:   PREL MARR MOPS ET ER IS DJ 
pdf how-to read a cable
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
					C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 DJIBOUTI 000734 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF AND AF/E

E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/22/2014
TAGS: PREL MARR MOPS ET ER IS DJ
SUBJECT: CJTF HOA COMMANDER'S FAREWELL CALL ON PRESIDENT
GUELLEH

Classified By: AMBASSADOR MARGUERITA D. RAGSDALE.
REASONS 1.4 (B) AND (D).



1. (C) Summary: For President Ismail Omar Guelleh,
Djibouti's participation in the Global War on Terrorism is
"an honor." He wants an end to conflict and hostility in
the Horn of Africa region and is working directly with the
President of the African Union to bring about a face to face
meeting between Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki. During the farewell call
by General Mastin Robeson, Commander of the Combined Joint
Task Force Horn of Africa (CJTF HOA) based at Camp Lemonier
in Djibouti, Guelleh said he hoped Ethiopia would take the
first step. Guelleh also welcomed General Robeson's informal
proposal for billeting and training of Ugandan, Kenyan and
perhaps other platoons, at Camp Lemonier. He told Robeson
that such acts can help facilitate an improved political
climate in the region. Guelleh hailed Robeson as a "pioneer"
who had taken responsibility as Commander of CJTF HOA and
created a good working environment for relations between very
different peoples. Guelleh expects to attend the May 22-23
Tunis Arab League Summit and said the situation in the
Israeli-occupied territories should top the summit's agenda.
End summary.



2. (U) General Mastin Robeson, Commander of the Combined
Joint Task Force Horn of Africa (CJTF HOA) based at Camp
Lemonier in Djibouti, paid a farewell call May 20 on
Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh. General Robeson
was accompanied in the call by CJTF HOA incoming commander,
General Samuel Helland, by Ambassador, and by CJTF HOA
political advisor Lange Schermerhorn. Hassan Said Khaireh,
Director of National Security Services also sat in on the
meeting.



--------------------------


Djibouti and Global War on Terrorism


--------------------------





3. (C) Robeson praised Guelleh as the strongest friend of the
U.S. in the Horn of Africa region and attributed his own
success over the past year to Guelleh's personal support. He
thanked Guelleh as well for the cooperation of Djibouti's
military leadership, specifically General Fathi Ahmed
Hussein, Major General of Djiboutian Armed Forces and General
Zakaria Ibrahim Cheik, Major General for Djiboutian Defense,
and for the opportunity given to CJTF HOA to partner with
them in recent flood relief efforts. Robeson also spoke of
the strong relations that have existed between him and French
forces, especially with their commander, General Gerard Pons.
Camp Lemonier, Robeson continued, was the most visible sign
of friendship between the U.S. and Djibouti. "You never said
no and you have taken care of us," Robeson added. He also
noted that plans are being developed in Washington to expand
Camp Lemonier. Guelleh responded that it was an honor for
Djibouti to have contributed to the war against terrorism and
to fighting what he described as "these criminal gangsters,
especially in this region." He said he had not yet seen the
plan for expansion of the Camp, but would like to and would
study it.



--------------------------


Ethiopia-Eritrea Conflict


--------------------------





4. (C) Robeson raised with Guelleh his just-concluded
farewell trip in the Horn of Africa. He said he had met with
President Isaias in Eritrea and with Prime Minister Meles in
Ethiopia. Guelleh asked Robeson for his views on why Isaias
refused to see General Abizaid during the latter's recent
swing through the region. Robeson responded that Isaias had
described the event as a misunderstanding. He added that
Isaias does appear to demonstrate concern about the growing
hostility between Eritrea and Ethiopia. However, Robeson
said, the two men are quite different.



5. (C) Guelleh acknowledged the tension between the two
states and supported the view that the conflict involves
distinct personalities. Meles and Isaias "were as brothers
previously," Guelleh continued. "Now they are enemies." He
urged caution when talking with both men. "Both are tough,"
Guelleh said, and "there is a need to understand deeply the
best means for their cooperation in order that they can
achieve a better understanding of each other in social,
political and other areas."


6. (C) Guelleh expressed hope that Ethiopia would take the
first step to find a solution to the Ethiopia-Eritrea
conflict and to compromise. "Someone should say that there
are principles that should be applied. Eritrea is saying
implement the decision of the Boundary Commission, then talk.
Ethiopia is saying let us talk first because there is no
guarantee that accepting the Boundary Commission's findings
will make for a permanent peace." From Ethiopia's
perspective, Guelleh said, one needs to see how the border
ruling will affect people on the ground.



7. (C) Robeson replied that he hoped a regionalization of
focus would help heal these kinds of differences. He urged a
NATO-like arrangement for the region that could achieve some
of the same results seen in the aftermath of World War II in
Europe. Guelleh responded positively, saying he believed
that with respect to Eritrea and Ethiopia, a lack of
understanding exists from the top. When two peoples are so
inter-linked, their Heads of State should be obliged to talk.
Guelleh expressed his conviction that if Meles and Isaias
could talk to each other "if only for one hour," they would
be able to resolve their differences. Guelleh told Robeson
that Djibouti is working directly with the Chairman of the
African Union to achieve this outcome.



--------------------------


Looking Towards the Broader Region


--------------------------





8. (C) Robeson noted the initial encouraging signals he had
received in response to CJTF HOA's regional Chiefs of Defense
conference which took place in late April, especially to
proposals for billeting and training an Ugandan and Kenyan
platoon, and perhaps other troops at Camp Lemonier. Guelleh
responded that Djibouti "would be very happy to work with
them." He continued that if responsible working level people
from countries in the region can have good relations with
each other, that would facilitate an improved political
climate in the region.



--------------------------


The Arab League Summit


--------------------------





9. (C) Ambassador raised with Guelleh his planned departure
the following day for Tunis to attend the Arab League Summit.
Guelleh confirmed his attendance and said he hoped the
session would be fruitful. A key item that needs to be
discussed, he stated, is the situation in the
Israeli-occupied territories and the activities of Israeli
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with respect to the Palestinians.
On a positive note, Guelleh said, Israel had apologized for
the most recent outcome of its actions in the Rafah refugee
camp in Gaza. He said it is important to press firmly for a
two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the
Palestinians. Ambassador responded that President Bush has
reiterated on more than one occasion his strong support for
such a solution. She also noted that the U.S. had abstained
in a mid-week vote at the U.N. on a resolution on Israel's
incursion into Gaza.



--------------------------


Change of Command


--------------------------





10. (C) Robeson referred President Guelleh to his successor,
General Helland, and briefed on Helland's achievements during
his long military career. Helland acknowledged Guelleh's
welcoming response. He was pleased to be in Djibouti and
looked forward to working very closely with Guelleh and the
members of his team. Guelleh stated that all in the Horn of
Africa region welcome the presence of America. He described
Robeson as a "pioneer," who had taken responsibility as
Commander of CJTF HOA, and had created "something from
nothing" while developing real relations with components in
the region. The result, Guelleh said, has been the creation
of a good working climate of relations between very different
peoples.



11. (C) General Robeson cleared on this cable prior to his
departure from Djibouti.
RAGSDALE