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05DJIBOUTI59 2005-01-13 14:14:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Djibouti
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					C O N F I D E N T I A L DJIBOUTI 000059 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/11/2015

Classified By: Classified By: Ambassador Marguerita Ragsdale.
For reasons 1.4 (B) and (D)

1. (C) SUMMARY: Sources told the Embassy Political Assistant
that significant changes are expected in the country's top
military commanders after Djibouti's presidential elections
in April 2005. The projected changes include the retirement
and replacement of Djibouti,s only two General Officers.
Subsequently, the shake-up would affect several senior
colonels, including the primary interlocutor for the U.S.
military, Colonel Osman Nour Soubagleh. The current military
hierarchy has been in place since 1993. END SUMMARY

2. (C) Watchers of Djibouti,s military have long awaited the
retirement of Generals Fathi Ahmed Houssein, Chief of
Defense, and Zakaria Chiek Ibrahim, Chief of Staff. Both are
long over due for retirement and it is widely thought that
President Ismail Omar Guelleh will use the opportunity in
creating his new government after the April 05 elections to
ask both Generals to step down. Front runners to replace the
two Generals include (in rank order) Colonel Youssouf Kayad
Guelleh, Deputy Chief of Staff, Colonel Houssein Djama
Ibrahim, Commander of the Rapid Reaction Brigade, Colonel
Osman Nour Soubagleh, Director of International Programs,
Colonel Omar Bouh Goudadeh, Director of Human Resources, and
Lieutenant Colonel Abdourahman Abdi Dembil, Commander of the
Republican Guard and Defense Advisor to the President
(currently in France attending War College).

3. (C) Recently, Post's Political Assistant was told by a
source that Lieutenant Colonel Abdourahman was to be named
Chief of Defense and Colonel Omar Bouh would be named Chief
of Staff. Additionally, Colonels Soubagleh, Kayad, and Djama
would all receive attach positions out of the country;
Soubagleh to the US, Kayad to France, and Djama to Ethiopia.
Such a scenario, if played out, would likely be viewed as an
attempt by President Guelleh to attain greater influence over
the FAD. Col. Kayad is generally regarded as the most
competent manager of the front runners Colonel Soubagleh is
generally considered the best connected to the presidency.
However, both are hampered by sub-clan affiliation. Colonels
Bouh and Djama are connected to President Guelleh by

4. (C) An additional position that could come into play post
election is that of Minister of Defense. The current Minister
of Defense, Ougoureh Kifleh Ahmed, is commonly viewed as
incompetent and ineffective as Minister. However, as an Afar
and leader of the rebellion from 1990-1998, he holds his
position as part of a power sharing agreement that ended the
armed campaign by the Afar. Although formerly a competent
guerrilla fighter, his lack of sophistication and marginal
administrative skills are seen by many senior officers in FAD
as a hindrance to allowing the military from fully profiting
from all the current attention given to them by the American
and French governments. Because he is such a prominent Afar
figure, Ougoureh,s replacement at MoD would most certainly
have to be balanced with the appointment of an Afar to some
other equally important and prestigious position.

5. (C) COMMENT: How retirements and reassignments play out in
the post election period will be most certainly influenced to
some degree by personal attachments, clan affiliation, and
historical loyalties. To the degree that individual
competency plays a role will be a telling barometer of
President Guelleh,s priorities and values. END COMMENT

6. For INR/B:

Soubagleh and Kayad are members of the Oudahgob sub-clan.

Djama has a successful maritime transit company and is
rumored to have recently declined a nomination as Djibouti's
representative to the African Union's Peace and Security
Council on grounds that he was being forced out of Djibouti.
He has a reputation as ill-tempered.

Bouh also owns a brick factory

7. Khartoum minimize considered.