|05DJIBOUTI804||2005-08-15 05:55:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Djibouti|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
1. (C) Summary: Congressman Donald Payne and delegation met
August 3 with Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mahamoud Ali
Youssouf to discuss regional and bilateral relations.
Youssouf briefed the Congressman on Djibouti's relations with
its neighbors, food security, anti-terrorism efforts,
Somaliland and Somalia. End Summary.
Regional and Bilateral Issues
2. (C) Youssouf told Congressman Payne that the U.S. role in
the Horn of Africa was of the utmost importance. The region
has not experienced global peace in some time. He said when
war and conflict are present, misery and poverty come. The
Horn of Africa could be considered the poorest region in
Africa. Youssouf added that when misery and poverty are the
prevailing conditions, terrorism will exist. He continued
that Somalia is a worrisome place for Djibouti. The region is
trying to establish peace in Somalia. Djibouti tried twice,
Ethiopia tried, Eritrea tried, Kenya tried, and still Somalia
is a worrisome situation. Youssouf said there is also the war
in Ethiopia and Eritrea. This situation has been detrimental
to the economic development of the region as a whole. He said
this contributes to a flux in stability of the region.
Djibouti has established relations with all of its
neighboring countries despite the conflicts.
3. (C) Djibouti is involved in the Global War on Terror. It
has always been Djibouti's policy to avoid involvement in the
regional conflicts, which has allowed it to remain peaceful.
Youssouf said the help and assistance from the U.S. has been
excellent. Djibouti and the U.S. have been negotiating a new
base lease, economic development, and ESF. Djibouti is very
please that USAID reopened and started very valuable projects
in health Education, livestock and FEWSNET. However, Youssouf
said, it is difficult to satisfy human needs and Djibouti
must keep asking for more. Overall, Djibouti is very pleased
with U.S. cooperation.
Food Security in Djibouti
4. (C) In response to Payne's question on food security in
Djibouti and the droughts in the region, Youssouf said the
Horn regularly experiences periodic drought. The most
dramatic was in 1984. It is almost every ten years, it is
something permanent for us. Trying to cope with it means
establishing food stores, but Djibouti is not agricultural
society. It is a very difficult situation. Even with
Ethiopia, a country that is very agriculturally oriented,
there are problems with droughts. Djibouti has a very good
program with the Famine Early Warning System Network
(FEWSNET) but still we need assistance from abroad. There is
a need to have a common policy in the region because all of
our economies are interlinked. Ethiopia does not have access
to the sea and we need Ethiopia for commerce. It would be
good if the U.S. could help on that issue. Payne responded
that at one point in the early 1990's there was a regional
effort called the Horn of Africa Initiative. He commented
perhaps it was time to look into that program again.
Progress of Anti-Terrorism Efforts
5. (C) Youssouf told Payne the American base in Djibouti
provides a large number of jobs for the youth and the
military personnel carry out civil affairs work, which has
given the Americans a very good reputation. They have been
assimilated as friends to the Djiboutians. Youssouf said it
was not easy in the beginning to make the French and the
Americans live together, but they have found common ground in
their efforts to reach the same goals. They both work to
maintain peace and security and the environment now is very
Djibouti's View of Somaliland and Somalia
6. (C) Youssouf said Djibouti does not like to negotiate on
the integrity and territory of Somalia. If we opened hope for
our friends in Somaliland, it might prevent global peace in
Somalia. Still we are friendly, heads of Somaliland come to
Djibouti often and are received as government officials.
Djibouti is not encouraging a secession policy because it is
not in the interest of the region. It conveys the message
that Djibouti supports unity in Somalia. Djibouti will do
everything to establish peace in Somalia. Other Arab
countries are doing the same. However, Somaliland deserves to
be helped. They have worked to stabilize their situation. We
can help socially, but not politically.
7. (C) Payne asked whether the African Union was making any
indication that it would move to recognize Somaliland.
Youssouf said he did not think so, but the AU was trying to
influence countries to change their positions. Even so,
Youssouf said, Africa is not ready to recognize in the near
future. In response to HIRC Staffer Dagne's question on how
long the two sides had been together, Youssouf said for more
than 40 years. Somalia and Somaliland were joined shortly
after they gained independence from their colonials powers.
Somaliland separated after the 1991 fall of Somalia.
8. (C) Dagne asked whether there had been much integration
between the two countries during their union. Dagne commented
that with two different colonials powers, Somaliland seemed
better prepared to govern. He said new countries do better
when there is some form of system to work from. The way
different colonial power governs influences the way countries
self-govern. Youssouf replied the most peculiar thing in
Somalia was the conflict was between the same people. Somalia
is a nation state. The people speak the same language, have
the same history (except for colonial periods), the same
religion. Apart from their colonial histories, they are the
same people. It is difficult to understand how they reached a
state of civil war among the same tribes, it is unprecedented
in Africa. Youssouf continued that the first decade of the
national political system led by Siad Barre is the origin of
the tribal issues in Somalia. Everything was done on a tribal
basis. This was very detrimental to Somalia. Putting aside
tribal differences was not a priority for Siad Barre.
Interference from other forces did not help Somalia get
together. When a country is weak and cannot control its own
position, its destiny is decided by others. Djibouti is
working within the framework of the Intergovernmental
Authority on Development (IGAD) to try to reconcile the two
sides through good will initiatives. There is no concrete
evidence they will go back to Mogadishu.
9. (C) Payne commented it seems like Somaliland gets punished
because Mogadishu cannot get its stuff together. Somaliland
cannot be recognized, but they are penalized. There is no
solution yet to the security situation in Mogadishu. For the
government to be hesitant to go back to its own capital is
dangerous. How long can they govern from another location?
Payne followed by asking whether Djibouti's work on the peace
process in Arta in 2000 had affected its relations with
Ethiopia. Youssouf responded that Ethiopia considers Somalia
a potential danger because three wars have been fought over
the Ogaden. It is a security issue for Ethiopia, they feel
they have a say on the Somalia issue. Ethiopia feels that if
Somalia has a strong central government, claims for the
Ogaden will continue. However, having a Somalia that is
"Balkanized" into several small authorities is not in their
interest either. A collapsed state is not good either.
Ethiopia's policy can be considered as a maneuver to keep the