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2005-12-05 13:44:00
Embassy Nairobi
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DE RUEHNR #5019/01 3391344
O 051344Z DEC 05
						S E C R E T NAIROBI 005019 




E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/05/2025

CLASSIFIED BY: PolCouns Michael J. Fitzpatrick. Reasons: 1.4


S E C R E T NAIROBI 005019




E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/05/2025

CLASSIFIED BY: PolCouns Michael J. Fitzpatrick. Reasons: 1.4


1. (C) As the Department develops new approaches to
Somalia, Post recommends the USG seek a role in bringing
into being -- and sustaining -- a coalition of Somalis that
can rule Somalia and combat the violent Islamists. END

2. (C) Embassy Nairobi welcomes the opportunity to forward
additional material relevant to the December 8 PCC
discussion of Somalia policy.


3. (S) The key factors to consider in formulation of a new
policy towards Somalia are generally well understood:

-- The Al-Qaida terrorist threat in Somalia is numerically
small, with limited resources, but still poses a very
significant danger to US interests. Surrounding, and at
times intertwined with, the AQ threat is a larger circle of
Islamic Somali extremists. For the most part, these
extremists are inwardly focused, i.e. their main concern is
control over souls, territory and resources inside/inside
Somalia. It would not take much, however, for these
extremists to expand their attention to targets outside
Somalia. It is possible that successful USG counter-
terrorism efforts in Somalia will generate a violent
backlash outside Somalia from these groups. Defeating the
terrorist threat in Somalia and bringing an end to this
period in which Somalia has been a safe haven for terrorist
elements must remain the policy priority against which all
other USG action in Somalia is masured.

-- The formation of the Transitional Federal Institutions
(defined as the Presidency, the Cabinet -- government, or
"TFG" -- and the Parliament) in October 2004 was a positive
step forward for Somalia. Stalemate has ensued however,
with the TFG executive under President Yusuf installed in
Jowhar, and the country's most powerful warlords (and key
components of Parliament) sharing control of Mogadishu. At
the present time, some analysts
such as the UN arms Embargo
Monitoring Group believe the two sides are probably closer
to a renewal of open armed conflict than they are to
reconciliation of any sort. Others point out that despite
significant rearming efforts, the two sides are not prepared
for a sustained engagement. There is no doubt however that
this standoff has given jihadist elements new space within
which to maneuver and assert their authority. The jihadists
will oppose the formation of any centralized government they
perceive hostile to their Islamic extremist principles.

-- Pressure is building internationally to support President
Yusuf and the executive against the Mogadishu businessmen,
warlords and parliamentarians. Ethiopia, Italy, Yemen,
Uganda and parts of the African Union have long been
partisans of Yusuf. Kenya has recently joined this chorus.
Now the EU, Sweden, Germany and World Bank are moving
forward with larger-scale support for Yusuf and the TFG
executive. If this campaign rolls on without any US
involvement or mediation, it could embolden Yusuf to make
the wrong choices, igniting conflict and possibly
undermining our CT goals.

-- We cannot remain neutral or on the sidelines if we want
to position ourselves to influence the political and
security dynamic in Somalia. Hence the need for a new
strategy of engagement.


4. (S) Among President Yusuf's many weaknesses is that he
has greater standing outside Somalia than at home, where he
is perceived by most as just another warlord, albeit the one
who emerged on top after a messy but typically Somali
presidential selection process in 2004. Yusuf surely
understands that he cannot impose his "presidential"
authority by military means unless he is amply supported by
international forces. Despite encouragement from Ethiopia,
Italy and some others, it is most unlikely that any
constellation of foreign forces will ever align to give
Yusuf this opportunity. Thus his only hope of eventually
governing as President is probably to combine increased
foreign support and assistance with active diplomacy and
outreach to his rivals. This just might allow him to build
a coalition that unites the business community, rival clans
and achieves some semblance of centralized governance under
his authority. That in turn would position him to take on
the Islamic extremists and jihadists whom, he has always
said, are the main enemy in Somalia. Whether Yusuf has the
vision, patience and political skills to do this is
questionable at best although there are very recent signs
that he sees himself becoming marginalized and may need to
seek accommodation.

5. (S) Chances for success may be slim, but there appears
little alternative to working more closely with both Yusuf
and/and his principal rivals in Mogadishu to try to build a
working coalition government. In so doing, we should keep
in the mind that the complex nature of Somali clan politics
makes it extremely difficult for any outsider to try to pick
"winners" and back them. It is a fact of the Somali clan
structure that it is impossible for any one leader, with or
without the support of the USG or others in the
international community, to prevail over all the others.
Somalia today cannot be dominated by a single individual --
nor can a single individual impose his will on the violent
Islamist extremists in their midst. But together, the clans
can both rule and combat the violent Islamists. Somalia
today can only be ruled by a coalition. While the details
of that coalition are for the Somalis to determine, the USG
must seek a role in bringing it into being -- and keeping it

6. (S) As we do so, we should stay the course in supporting
the governmental process that the Somalis themselves agreed
to -- the TFIs. In doing so, we must place emphasis on the
"transitional" nature of the current structures. Support
for any individual must be clearly cast as support for the
institutional positions held -- as part of the larger TFIs -
- and not as support for a given individual at the expense
of others.


7. (S) In reaching out to Yusuf, we should build from the
September meetings on the margins of the UN General Assembly
in New York between USG officials and Yusuf and his aides to
make clear that our goal is to help consolidate the
authority of the TFG executive, but only as Yusuf reaches
out to engage and partner with his rivals. As a first step,
we should communicate a similar message to both sides of the
TFI divide. This could be done by Ambassador in Nairobi
which, in itself, would be seen by all as a significant
elevation in our level of engagement.

8. (S) In discussions with all key obstructionists, we need
to insist on the primacy of dialogue and coalition building.
Points we might wish to emphasize would include:

-- Our engagement in Somalia is aimed at standing up the
TFIs so that stable governance can return to Somalia.

-- The USG does not offer exclusive backing to any leader,
group or institution. The return of governance to Somalia
depends on Somalia's leaders coming together and cooperating
for the good of the country.

-- The TFIs are sufficiently formed for the various
elements to provide the necessary venues for this

-- We will look for the cabinet to meet, debate, and
present motions to Parliament for action.

-- We will expect the Parliament to meet and debate the
motions, and vote.

-- On the basis of Parliament's decisions, we will
determine our support for the TFIs.

-- We will bring our indirect financial support and voice
to those same actors who have shown their strengths in
conflict resolution and reconciliation in many areas
throughout Somalia, and to whom the USG is already providing
support through multi-donor funded projects.

-- These groups, drawn from civil society, moderate
Islamists, women's groups and business associations, are
already seeking to engage with members of Parliament who
appear to be pulling together in an "alternative center of
gravity" at least somewhat independent of the TFI factions.

-- We will identify those members of Parliament who can
cooperate with each other across the clan and the
Jowhar/Mogadishu divide.

-- We will seek to create this new center of gravity,
through united international attention and carefully applied
resources, to attract a quorum of members to the "cross-
cutting middle".

9. (S) Our increased engagement must be communicated
internationally. We must be clear about what we want, and
what we are willing to support. We must be clear that we
will seek to lead the international community to a united a
position on Somali questions.


10. (S) As we develop a strategy of more active engagement
in Somalia, we should keep in mind that Somaliland, for all
its appeal as a relatively peaceful, partially governed
geographic entity, could become a harmful distraction.
Because it is somewhat easier for foreigners to visit
Somaliland, there is a natural tendency to try to view
Somaliland as a place where we can "engage" and do business.
Often such engagement is seen as a means to influence and
instruct the rest of Somalia on the advantages of following
Somaliland's model.

11. (S) This logic is flawed, we believe. Donor engagement
with Somaliland is not likely to be seen by either Yusuf or
the warlords in Mogadishu as a sufficient incentive to re-
evaluate or change their positions. If international
engagement were to accelerate Somaliland's drive to achieve
independence, forcible resistance from the rest of the
country would result. Such a conflict, we believe, would
give extremists and jihadists even more room to operate,
while further postponing resolution of Somalia's most urgent
program, which is formation of a functioning (and friendly)
government in Mogadishu. Thus any USG involvement in
Somaliland should be carefully calibrated to ensure the
question of Somaliland's independence be postponed for the
time being.


12. (S) As the USG steps up its diplomatic engagement in
Somalia, we must commit commensurate resources. At present,
Somalia is covered by a single mid-level FSO at Embassy
Nairobi. A very small cadre of USAID officers and FSNs
administers our assistance program in Somalia. Embassy
Nairobi has very limited Somali language capabilities (none
at all among Americans present at post). This staffing
level is scarcely sufficient to maintain a watching brief
and comply with mandatory reporting and support
requirements. It is well short of what will be needed to
sustain an engagement strategy. If it is decided to
intensify our diplomatic engagement, step up official travel
to the region in connection with Somalia, possibly stand up
a Somalia country team in Nairobi, prepare an MPP for
Somalia, channel more ESF, FMF and other forms of assistance
to Somalia, etc., it cannot be done within current staffing
levels. Embassy Nairobi will send in more detailed notes on
possible resource solutions in a separate message.


13. (S) An unavoidable constraint on our engagement in
Somalia is the extreme danger of travel to that country.
There is abundant evidence that extremist groups in Somalia
are continually on the lookout for foreign targets of
opportunity inside Somalia, especially Americans.
Somaliland is not an exception to this rule. Any official
American visiting Somalia will immediately be targeted by
one extremist group or another for hostile action. Although
officials of other nationalities have cautiously stepped up
the number of their quick visits to sites in Somalia in
recent months, it is only a matter of time before they take
casualties as well. Embassy Nairobi does not have the
security resources to support a program of frequent visits
to Somalia, nor we would we recommend undertaking such a
program. Fortunately, we have a number of ways of engaging
key Somali actors from Nairobi (and possibly other regional
capitals) without frequent travel into Somalia.