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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06ADDISABABA1284
2006-05-09 17:39:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Addis Ababa
Cable title:  

DSRSG ENNIFAR DISCUSSES UNMEE DOWNSIZING,

Tags:   PREL  PBTS  MOPS  KPKO  ET  ER 
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VZCZCXRO8705
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #1284/01 1291739
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 091739Z MAY 06
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0440
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 ADDIS ABABA 001284 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/11/2016
TAGS: PREL PBTS MOPS KPKO ET ER
SUBJECT: DSRSG ENNIFAR DISCUSSES UNMEE DOWNSIZING,
ETHIOPIAN-ERITREAN VIEWS OF DEMARCATION

REF: ADDIS ABABA 419

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



1. (C) SUMMARY. UNMEE's outgoing Force Commander now opposes
downsizing the UNMEE to an observer mission with half its
current force strength, reflecting either pessimism that
Ethiopia and Eritrea will proceed with demarcation, or a
desire to preserve the large presence of Indian troops who
now comprise one-third of the mission's military personnel.
UNMEE DSRSG Ennifar underscores that the composition and
quality of troops is more significant than their number,
citing UNMEE's lost of intelligence capacity following
Eritrea's expulsion of U.S. and European MILOBs. Ennifar
reviewed recent meetings between UNMEE SRSG Legwaila and both
President Isaias and Prime Minister Meles: Isaias remains
concerned about the specific role Gen. Fulford would play,
while Meles continues to refer to Ethiopia's five-point peace
plan. DAS Yamamoto highlighted the critical need for
normalization talks, and for parties to send political,
rather than technical, representatives to the next EEBC
meeting in April. END SUMMARY.



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



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


OUTGOING FORCE COMMANDER FORSEES NEED TO REOPEN BORDER POSTS


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



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





2. (C) In March 30 and April 1 meetings with visiting AF DAS
Amb. Donald Yamamoto, AF/E desk officer William Schofield,
Charge, and poloff, United Nations Mission for Ethiopia and
Eritrea (UNMEE) Deputy Special Representative of the UN
Secretary-General (DSRSG) Amb. Azouz Ennifar reported that

SIPDIS
outgoing UNMEE Force Commander Major-General Rajender Singh
had "changed his mind" and now no longer favored downsizing
UNMEE to an observer mission of approximately 1,500 military
personnel (i.e., option 3A outlined in UN SYG report
S-2006-1). According to Ennifar, MG Singh now asserted that
cutting UNMEE's actual force strength by nearly one-half
would not be feasible, as it would not allow UNMEE to monitor
the Ethiopia-Eritrea border adequately or to support
demarcation. Ennifar explained that MG Singh sought
additional UNMEE troops to ensure that no Eritrean troops
violated the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ): Eritrea
continued to impose daily restrictions on UNMEE's freedom of
movement within the TSZ, and UNMEE was only able to monitor
"5 per cent" of the eastern part of the border, Ennifar said.
UNMEE could fulfill its mandate only if such restrictions
were lifted, he said.



3. (C) Ennifar explained that Singh sought to reopen many
outposts previously closed by UNMEE (18 sites were closed in
the TSZ following Eritrea's restriction on helicopter flights
in October 2005). In contrast, Ennifar said, UNMEE's chief

administrative officer (a former Russian military veteran)
believed that reopening such a large number of posts would be
unnecessary, due to the goodwill that would exist were the
parties to agree to demarcation. Ennifar commented that MG
Singh may have changed his position to protect the well-being
of Indian troops. Ennifar added that the new Force
Commander, a Jordanian, may feel differently about downsizing
UNMEE. (NOTE: Contingents from India and Jordan each
comprise nearly one-third of UNMEE's approximately 3,000
total military personnel. END NOTE.) The Ethiopian military
was "pro-UNMEE," Ennifar added, while Ethiopia's civilian
leadership was less supportive of UNMEE's role.



4. (C) DAS Yamamoto observed that the United States favored
downsizing UNMEE to an observer mission of 1,500, but would
likely defer a decision until mid-May. Were the UNSC to
endorse this option, downsizing would require approximately
3-4 months, Ennifar said, in order to identify which troops
would be cut. A force structure of 1,500 military personnel
would be comprised of 600-700 infantry, 300 military
observers (MILOBs), demining, and medical personnel, he said.
Ennifar underscored that quality, not quantity, of troops
mattered most, noting that UNMEE "lost its intelligence
capacity" following Eritrea's December 2005 expulsion of
U.S., European, and Russian staff, due to the departure of
U.S. and European MILOBs.



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


ERITREAN AND ETHIOPIAN CONCERNS


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



ADDIS ABAB 00001284 002 OF 003





5. (C) Both Ethiopia and Eritrea understood the U.S.
initiative represented a "last opportunity," Ennifar said,
adding that neither the AU, UN, or Algeria could be expected
to reprise the active role they previously played when
Witnesses to the 2000 Algiers Accords. Ennifar recommended
waiting until after the April EEBC meeting to determine
whether a visit by the EEBC commissioners to the region would
be helpful, noting that Ethiopia considered EEBC chairman
Lauterpacht "pro-Eritrean."



6. (C) Amb. Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, who would depart April
30 after five years as UNMEE SRSG, had paid a farewell call
on Eritrean President Isaias on March 31, their first meeting
in nearly three years, Ennifar said. According to Ennifar,
Legwaila reported that the meeting was very positive: Isaias
had "absolved" the UN, including UNMEE and UN SYG Annan, of
any wrongdoing, but was "upset" at the United States. While
reportedly "happy" with the Secretary's letter sent to him
immediately before the March 10 meeting of the
Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission (EEBC), Isaias had
sought further information on the EEBC's terms of reference
for General Carlton Fulford, comparing Fulford unfavorably
with former UN special envoy Lloyd Axworthy. Isaias also
indicated that Eritrea would lift restrictions on UNMEE's
freedom of movement only if it were clear that demarcation
would occur, Ennifar said. Ennifar added that Isaias, who
has been in Massawa since January, had also met with
Norwegian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Raymond
Johansen (previously Norway's charge d'affaires in Asmara)
and with a Chinese business delegation.



7. (C) Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin and Minister
of State Tekeda Alemu were "very hard-line" on the border
issue, and less open than Prime Minister Meles, Ennifar said.
Seyoum needed to be convinced that Ethiopia would not be
pushed to accept a decision. Ennifar noted that Meles had
referred to Ethiopia's five-point peace plan in his March 28
address to Parliament, prompting opposition MPs to assert
they accepted the EEBC decision. (NOTE: Full text of Meles'
address was forwarded March 28 to AF/E. END NOTE.) Ennifar
observed that an internal survey conducted by UNMEE had
concluded that fewer Eritreans would be effected by
demarcation than Ethiopians. The port of Assab "was made for
Ethiopia by Ethiopians" and could not be used effectively by
Eritrea; the Netherlands was ready to assist in Assab's
revitalization, Ennifar said. He noted that Ethiopia had not
yet identified liaison officers to work with the EEBC, nor
submitted a security plan for demarcators, although Eritrea
had already done so two year ago.



8. (C) DAS Yamamoto observed that in a three-hour meeting
with the USG delegation, Meles had displayed detailed
knowledge of the border and geographic reference points.
While the EEBC could not change the line of delimitation, the
parties could address its impact, Yamamoto said, noting that
an additional 50,000 residents could be potentially
displaced. The United States had declared in 1999 that the
parties much address land and water rights, he added The
property rights of some 80,000 Eritreans expelled from
Ethiopia had not yet been addressed. The next EEBC meeting
needed to address political, not merely technical issues,
Yamamoto said; attendance by only legal representatives was
not enough. Sanctions, for failure to observe UNSCR 1640,
could not be ruled out. The United States would call another
meeting of the Witnesses to the 2000 Algiers Accords, or help
issue a Witnesses' statement addressing normalization talks,
he said. To avoid having the beginning of demarcation "plant
the seeds of war," both parties needed to discuss the root
causes of war and commit firmly to confidence-building
measures. Isaias had agreed to normalization talks two years
ago but had since recanted; it was unclear what his current
position was.



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


SURVEYS, DEMINING, MUST PRECEDE DEMARCATION


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





9. (C) Ennifar noted that if political will exists to proceed
with demarcation, it would not be completed for at least
another year. He said that according to recent consultations
with UNMEE's Mine Action Coordination Center (MACC), a
minimum of three to six months would be needed prior to

ADDIS ABAB 00001284 003 OF 003


demarcation in order to conduct surveys; demarcation itself
(to include necessary removal of landmines from pillar sites
and access roads, and then planting pillars) would require an
additional nine to twelve months. AF/E Schofield observed
that an assessment/field survey for the east had been
conducted, but not for either the central or western portions
of the border. Ethiopia wanted to begin demarcation in the
east; Eritrea did not, he added. AF/E Schofield agreed that
a security plan was needed, even for the east; evacuation in
extremis was a possible contingency, he added. DAS Yamamoto
observed that once the east was demarcated, Eritrean troops
in the TSZ needed to be disarmed and repatriated, not move to
the central sector. Charge Huddleston highlighted the need
to sensitize and involve village elders, to enable
demarcation.



10. (C) COMMENT: With the imminent departure of SRSG
Legwaila, DSRSG Ennifar will become acting head of the UN
mission until Legwaila's successor arrives. SRSG Legwaila
has previously asserted, on several separate occasions, that
a downsized UNMEE observer mission would be not only viable
but also capable of supporting demarcation, so long as
Eritrea removed its restrictions on UNMEE's freedom of
movement within the TSZ, including allowing the use of
helicopter assets. END COMMENT.



11. (U) DAS Yamamoto cleared this cable.
HUDDLESTON