wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05ADDISABABA3770
2005-11-07 06:17:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Addis Ababa
Cable title:  

ETHIOPIA-ERITREA: UNMEE'S WITHDRAWAL COULD PROMPT

Tags:   PREL  PINS  KPKO  ER  ET  EE  BORDER 
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 ADDIS ABABA 003770 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF DAS YAMAMOTO AND AF/E
ROME PARIS LONDON FOR AFRICA WATCHERS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/04/2015
TAGS: PREL PINS KPKO ER ET EE BORDER
SUBJECT: ETHIOPIA-ERITREA: UNMEE'S WITHDRAWAL COULD PROMPT
ETHIOPIAN INTERVENTION

REF: A. ADDIS ABABA 3747

B. ADDIS ABABA 3725

Classified By: CHARGE D'AFFAIRES VICKI HUDDLESTON. REASON:
1.4 (D).


C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ADDIS ABABA 003770

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF DAS YAMAMOTO AND AF/E
ROME PARIS LONDON FOR AFRICA WATCHERS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/04/2015
TAGS: PREL PINS KPKO ER ET EE BORDER
SUBJECT: ETHIOPIA-ERITREA: UNMEE'S WITHDRAWAL COULD PROMPT
ETHIOPIAN INTERVENTION

REF: A. ADDIS ABABA 3747

B. ADDIS ABABA 3725

Classified By: CHARGE D'AFFAIRES VICKI HUDDLESTON. REASON:
1.4 (D).



1. (C) SUMMARY. UNMEE DSRSG Amb. Azouz Ennifar does not
foresee the imminent outbreak of hostilities between Ethiopia
and Eritrea, and dismisses recent public statements by UN
officials in New York and Asmara as overly alarming. On the
other hand, UNMEE itself could precipitate armed
confrontation, were it to withdraw. Amb. Ennifar warns that
UNMEE's withdrawal would create a vacuum that Ethiopian FM
Seyoum said Ethiopia would fill through re-occupation of the
Temporary Security Zone. PM Meles also implied as much to
Charge, by reminding her that Ethiopia had in the past and
could in the future maintain the security zone without the
UNMEE. However, we assume Eritrea would not accept Ethiopia
replacing UNMEE. Ambassador Ennifar reiterated his request
to the USG to assist with aerial surveillance so that
peace-keepers would not longer be blind to movements of
troops in the TSZ and outside it. Ennifar firmly believes
that a comprehensive economic and political package
acceptable to both governments could resolve the dispute.
Ethiopia's National Security advisor told Charge the same
thing. USG engagement, including the immediate appointment
of an American to serve as UN special envoy, is key to
addressing the stalemate. Ennifar was surprised and
concerned when Charge mentioned a delay in naming the US
envoy. Both Ennifar and Charge agreed that the US envoy was
key to a peaceful resolution and had a fair chance of success
if he approached the issue in a comprehensive manner. The
November 6-8 UNSC mission to the region aims to express
support for UNMEE, but is unlikely to address the parties'
key concerns. END SUMMARY.

-------------- --
UNMEE PULLOUT MAY PROMPT ETHIOPIAN INTERVENTION
-------------- --


2. (C) Recent public statements on Ethiopia-Eritrea from UN

headquarters (e.g., November 2 UN SYG statement expressing
concern about troop movements) are overly alarming, according
to Amb. Azouz Ennifar, Deputy Special Representative of the
UN Secretary-General (DSRSG) for the UN Mission in Ethiopia
and Eritrea (UNMEE). In a November 4 meeting with Charge and
deputy P/E chief, Ennifar asserted that UNMEE SRSG Legwaila
had been blind -sided by such a statement attributed to an
UNMEE spokesman in Asmara. Ennifar said he did not foresee
the imminent outbreak of hostilities, and noted that UN
peace-keepers in Cyprus monitored a peaceful stalemate that
had lasted for years.


3. (C) Ennifar (strictly protect) attributed "alarmist"
reports to UNMEE Force Commander Major General Rajender Singh
trying to safeguard his Indian troops, who had only suffered
a single casualty thus far (from a non-combat-related traffic
accident). He criticized UNMEE's evacuation of dependents,
many of whom had resided in the area for as long as five
years, for creating the impression that the mission was on
the verge of "collapsing." UNMEE needed to be realistic; it
was "ridiculous," he said, that UNMEE and UN headquarters had
discussed "temporary pullout" as an option.


4. (C) Ennifar reiterated concern that continued Eritrean
restrictions on UNMEE could lead India and Jordan to withdraw
their contingents, who comprise the majority of UNMEE forces
in the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ). According to Ennifar,
India's ambassador to Ethiopia had said that if there were no
change within 30 to 60 days, then "we'll pull our people."


5. (C) Ennifar reported that Ethiopian Foreign Minister
Seyoum had informed him that were UNMEE to withdraw, then
Ethiopia would seek to re-occupy the TSZ, as Ethiopia's
previous retreat had been conditioned on UNMEE's
establishment of the TSZ. Charge said that PM Meles had
stated to her that prior to UNMEE, Ethiopia had administer
the TSZ and could do so in the future. Ennifar and Charge
both agreed that such a scenario would not be acceptable to
Eritrea and could lead to confrontation because the TSZ is
entirely composed of land awarded to Eritrea by the boundary
commission.
--------------
INCREASED MILITARY ACTIVITY NEAR BORDER
--------------

6. (C) On the other hand, the UN should not report that the
border situation is stable, Ennifar said. "Major moves are
going on," he noted, especially during nightfall, when the
GSE restricted UNMEE's active monitoring. Potentially
troubling developments on the Eritrean side included:
-- the sighting of several new T-52 tanks, near the port of
Assab, in contrast to older, less serviceable T-52s
previously identified by UNMEE and located between Assab and
the TSZ;
-- the Eritrean military conducting air operations, involving
helicopters, in the TSZ;
-- the frequency of senior Eritrean military commanders
visiting the TSZ; and
-- the GSE's re-conscription of previously discharged
draftees.


7. (C) Ennifar said UNMEE did not have information on the
location of Eritrean troops moving away from the border with
Sudan, but underscored that, as a result of GSE restrictions,
UNMEE could only monitor 40 per cent of the border. He
reiterated UNMEE SRSG Legwaila's October 26 request to the
USG for aerial or satellite surveillance (ref B), noting that
the UN did not need the imagery itself but only the
analysis. (Comment: It would reassure the UNMEE troops if
we could provide them with satellite images and or
information regarding troop deployment. One of the reasons
they are nervous is their inability to ascertain what is
going on in the TSZ.)

--------------
NEED TO PROMOTE MUTUAL ECONOMIC INTERESTS
--------------


8. (C) Although the parties agreed on 85 per cent of the
border, building consensus on demarcation of the remainder
remained difficult, Ennifar said. Eritrea sought the return
of three key areas: Badme, the Sitona triangle, and parts of
its southern border. Ennifar said he wished that PM Meles
would not include the "accepted in principle" April 2002
decision of the Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission (EEBC),
because he believes that in fact were Eritrea to agree to
discussions, Ethiopia would agree to demarcation along
similar lines as the delimitation. Charge pointed out that
she had met with Meles's National Security advisor earlier
that day. He had suggested that a comprehensive package for
normalizing relations was key to a successful resolution of
the border dispute. In this package Badme would be only a
footnote, the bigger issue being economic (septel).


9. (C) Charge said that she believed that the issues of
resettlement, access to the port of Assab, and economic
cooperation were critical to Ethiopia. Ennifar noted that
Ethiopian FM Seyoum had identified access to the Eritrean
port of Assab, not the contested status of Badme, as the
major issue that had to be discussed between landlocked
Ethiopia and its neighbor. Charge said so had Ethiopian
General Zamora. Developing Assab would primarily benefit
Ethiopia, as Eritrea relied on the port of Massawa, Ennifar
said. Ennifar advocated a comprehensive economic development
package involving World Bank assistance, saying the parties
themselves could not supply a solution to the current
stalemate.

--------------
USG ENGAGEMENT IS KEY
--------------


10. (C) Ennifar hailed US plans to name a UN special envoy,
saying that US leadership was key to resolving the
stalemate. Neither the UN nor the AU was playing a
significant role, Ennifar explained. When Charge indicated
that there was a hang-up between the US and the UN in naming
the envoy, he expressed his surprise and considerable concern
and urged that we resolve the problem quickly.
-- UN SYG Annan was considering visiting the region again,
but was not likely to be successful in Asmara, which had
forbidden him from flying directly to Addis Ababa during his
previous visit in July 2004.
-- Japanese PermRep Amb. Kenzo Oshima's visit, on behalf of
the UNSC, would be limited to providing "confidence and
support to UNMEE." Oshima would join Ethiopian FM Seyoum at
a November 7 working lunch in Addis Ababa, and meet with UNSC
ambassadors at Charge's residence, and then meet the
following day with the UNMEE Force Commander and GSE
Commissioner in Asmara. However, Oshima was not scheduled to
meet either PM Meles nor President Isaias.


11. (C) Ennifar said no progress had been made in pushing the
parties to participate in either a war reparations
commission, or a commission to investigate the causes of the
war, both mechanisms established by existing accords between
Ethiopia and Eritrea. He called for modifying the existing
UNMEE mandate to allow the SRSG to play a political (as
opposed to simply administrative) role, consistent with other
UN peace-keeping missions.


12. (C) COMMENT: As the situation on the border becomes more
critical, it also becomes more urgent to name the US envoy to
avoid miscalculations on both sides. END COMMENT.
HUDDLESTON