wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy Privacy
Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06ADDISABABA2921
2006-11-02 13:00:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Addis Ababa
Cable title:  

PUNTLAND VICE PRESIDENT URGES SUPPORT FOR SOMALI

Tags:   PREL  PINS  MOPS  MASS  KPKO  ET  ER  SO 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO7497
PP RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #2921/01 3061300
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 021300Z NOV 06 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3117
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 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 002921 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF DAS YAMAMOTO AND AF/E
LONDON, PARIS, ROME FOR AFRICA WATCHER
CJTF-HOA FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/01/2016
TAGS: PREL PINS MOPS MASS KPKO ET ER SO
SUBJECT: PUNTLAND VICE PRESIDENT URGES SUPPORT FOR SOMALI
TFG

REF: A. ADDIS ABABA 2910

B. ADDIS ABABA 2872

C. ADDIS ABABA 2775

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



1. (C) SUMMARY. Puntland Vice President Hassan Dahir Mahamud
blamed Islamic extremists in Somalia's Council of Islamic
Courts (CIC) for fanning Ethio-Somali tensions in order to
destabilize Somalia's Transitional Federal Government. He
claimed that the current (EPRDF) GOE had done much to reduce
Somalis' antipathy toward Ethiopia and pointed to the strong
commercial and cultural ties that now exist between Somalia's
Puntland region and Ethiopia's Somali regional state. The
CIC now posed a direct threat to Puntland and Somaliland, he
said, as well as to southern Somalia: foreign fighters and
Arab financing backed the CIC, while the UNSC arms embargo
hampered international support to the legitimate TFG. In
addition to calling for lifting the arms embargo, Mahamud
recommended the provision of financial assistance and
training to the TFG and Puntland. Strengthening Somali
capacity for administration and self-defense would go further
than Ethiopia acting alone, he said. Mahamud noted that
Puntland had defeated Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys and his
fighters in 1993, and was prepared to do so again, if given
international assistance. Mahamud was pessimistic that talks
between the TFG and CIC would result in any feasible
power-sharing arrangements. END SUMMARY.



2. (C) On October 31, Pol-Econ Counselor and Deputy met with
visiting Puntland Vice President Hassan Dahir Mahamud during
the latter's visit to Addis Ababa. Mahamud was accompanied
by Puntland intelligence officer Mahad Farah Gas.



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



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


CLOSE COMMERCIAL TIES BETWEEN ETHIOPIA AND PUNTLAND


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



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





3. (C) Asked about historical tensions between Ethiopia and
Somalia, Mahamud acknowledged enmity between Siad Barre and
Emperor Haile Selassie, but said that Somali authorities had
always enjoyed a close relationship with Ethiopia's ruling
Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).
He recalled that EPRDF guerrilla leaders had even been
provided with Somali passports when they fought against the
Mengistu regime. He noted that both Mengistu and Somali
dictator Siad Barre had fallen from power within months of
each other, in 1991. Since then, the EPRDF had given Somalis
their own regional state in Ethiopia, headed by their own
regional president and with the right to secession. Mahamud
noted that he had first met Ethiopian Foreign Minister Seyoum
six months earlier in Sudan; he planned to meet with deputy
Foreign Minister Tekeda Alemu and other GOE officials later
in the week.



4. (U) Mahamud cited close cross-border cultural and
commercial ties between Puntland and Ethiopia's Somali
region. Some Darod sub-clans were split along both sides of
the Ethio-Somali border, he added. Citing open traffic along
the 450 km border between Ethiopia and Puntland, Mahamud
explained that he was leading a Puntland government
delegation visiting Addis Ababa to conclude a memorandum of
understanding between Puntland and Jijiga, capital of
Ethiopia's Somali regional state. "We have the port, and
they have the market," he said. While Garowe was its
political capital, Puntland was focusing on developing
infrastructure in its business center, Bossaso: not only
refurbishing its port to handle ships of up to 1,500 tonnage,
but also constructing an airport capable of handling Boeing
747 aircraft.



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



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


U.S. ASSISTANCE NEEDED TO DEFEND AGAINST ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS


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



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





5. (C) Mahamud said it was Hawiye clan Islamicists of the
Council of Islamic Courts (CIC) who sought to fan what had
been fading Ethio-Somali tensions. Islamicists were
instigating a new civil war, especially in southern Somalia,
he said. Puntland considered itself a federal state under
Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and had no

ADDIS ABAB 00002921 002 OF 003


plans for secession; on the contrary, Puntland sought to be
part of a united Somalia, and possibly even an economic union
with other nations in the Horn of Africa. Puntland was now
threatened by clan-based Islamicists and needed to raise a
large military force to defend its population of 2-3 million,
Mahamud said. CIC fighters were now only 90 km from
Galcaiyo. While there would be popular opposition to the CIC
within Puntland, some would seek to ally themselves with the
CIC to for personal gain, he added. Mahamud noted that
Puntland had previous experience in confronting and defeating
CIC leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys. According to Mahamud,
in 1993, Aweys had invaded Bossaso and had even captured
Abdullahi Yusuf (currently TFG president), but Bosaso
residents then repulsed Aweys and his forces, killed 800 of
his fighters, and disarmed and expelled the remainder.



6. (C) Mahamud appealed for financial assistance so Puntland
could purchase weapons and ammunition, "like Eritrea is
doing," and called for the United States to push for lifting
the UNSC arms embargo on Somalia. Ethiopia could push back
the CIC, but could not go far without strong Somali forces,
Mahamud said. As the CIC was already getting weapons, the
arms embargo only weakened the legitimate TFG, he said.
Foreign fighters from Iran, Iraq, Palestine, and Afghanistan
had come to assist the CIC and would not be easy to expel.
The CIC's recent declaration of jihad against Ethiopia
encouraged Arab financing of the Islamic extremists, but
Eritrea's support remained "the most dangerous." Mahamud
asserted that Eritrea supply flights were landing twice daily
in Mogadishu to deliver weapons and trainers, and he
questioned why the United States was not doing more to stop
it. Mahamud said he had had limited engagement with U.S.
authorities; he had not been in contact with any USG
officials in Nairobi, and only occasionally encountered
CJTF-HOA personnel in Bossaso.



7. (C) While there was no need for direct U.S. military
intervention, the USG could do more to help the Transitional
Federal Institutions (TFIs), Mahamud said, especially by
providing financial assistance and training. The TFG
collected no revenue from taxes, he noted. With USD 20-30
million and advisor/trainers, the TFG could form an effective
administration and remove the threat of the CIC, Mahamud
said. To defend transitional institutions, the TFG required
well-equipped armed forces; such armed forces and the police
also needed salaries. The vice-president also recommended
on-the-ground international advisors to the TFG that could
help get quick traction on governance and maintain
accountability for assistance provided. Currently, the EU
provided funds for parliament, but not for developing
Somalia's civil service, he said. Mahamud challenged the
assertion that the CIC was more proficient in administration
that the TFG, noting that disputes between Ayr and Abgal
sub-clans over revenues had recently shut down the port of
Mogadishu; port operations had shifted to El Maan, 4.5 km
north of Mogadishu. The TFG was now nominating
directors-general of ministries in an effort to create a
viable administration, and seeking to implement Prime
Minister Ghedi's six-month plan which called for reducing
national ministries to 31. The TFG was hampered by poor
security conditions and by lack of grassroots organizations:
half of the members of the Transitional Federal Parliament
came from the Diaspora, Mahamud explained, reducing their
effectiveness to date in establishing real links with their
constituents in Somalia. In contrast to the TFG, Puntland
authorities were able to raise some revenue from tax
collection: "We can sustain ourselves; no one helps us," he
said. It would have been preferable for the USG to have
assisted the TFG, Puntland, and Somaliland, than to have
wasted its efforts supporting a coalition of warlords, he
said.



8. (C) "Anyone who is against the Islamicists must support
the TFG," Mahamud declared. Defeat of the TFG would mean the
defeat of Somaliland and Puntland as well, Mahamud warned,
with civil war and a disastrous reprise of the chaos
following 1992 likely to continue. Intelligence officer
Mahad Farah Gas agreed that to avert such disaster, it was
imperative for the international community to back the TFG.
Otherwise, "the whole region will be on fire." The
Government of Yemen was already backing the TFG, Mahamud

ADDIS ABAB 00002921 003 OF 003


said, as Yemeni extremists backed the CIC. In contrast,
Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh had close business
connections with CIC Islamicists, Mahamud said. He predicted
that if the CIC prevailed, they would tolerate Guelleh's
administration for only a limited time before seeking to
destabilize Djibouti as well.



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


ISLAMICISTS' TIES TO ETHIOPIAN INSURGENTS


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





9. (C) CIC leader Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys enjoyed a
long-term relationship with Eritrea, Mahamud said, having
trained fighters in Eritrea who later came to Merka
(southwest of Mogadishu). Aweys also maintained ties with
Ethiopian insurgent groups, including the Ogaden National
Liberation Front (ONLF) and Oromo insurgents. Mahamud
asserted that ONLF rebels did not use Puntland as a base for
operations against Ethiopia. Puntland authorities had an
agreement with the GOE to expel captured ONLF rebels.
Puntland did not arrest them or turn them over to the GOE, he
said, because they were members of the same Darod sub-clan
dominant in Puntland. He remarked that Somaliland in
contrast had extradited ONLF members to Ethiopia, which had
"only created problems" for Somaliland's government. ONLF
leaders were primarily in the diaspora, and the ONLF had
little support in the Ogaden, Mahamud claimed. He noted that
Puntland had sought to mediate between the GOE and ONLF over
the last two years, but that such efforts had not succeeded.
A splinter group operating under the umbrella of the ONLF,
the "Ogaden Islamic Movement," was affiliated with the
extremist al-Ittihad al-Islami (AIAI) and rejected dialogue
with the GOE. The differences over whether to engage with
the GOE had split the ONLF into several factions, Mahamud
added.



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



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


SOMALILAND INDEPENDENCE "ILLOGICAL"; COOPERATION STUCK


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



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





10. (C) Questioned about Puntland's relations with
secessionist Somaliland, Mahamud expressed distrust of
Somaliland, but recognized that its stability was beneficial
for Somalia. Nevertheless, he said, it was "illogical" to
recognize Somaliland's independence, since "a clan cannot be
a nation." He asserted that Somaliland had no distinct
identity until 1960, other than its Isaak-dominated Somali
National Movement (SNM), and said that Somaliland was
currently claiming territory from colonial boundaries that it
had never controlled. Mahamud noted that he himself came
from the disputed region between Puntland and Somaliland.
When asked about potential cooperation between Somaliland and
Puntland against the CIC, the vice-president said that he
favored sharing intelligence and collaborating in other
areas, but claimed Somaliland was unwilling. (Note: GOE
Somali-watcher Fiseha Shawel disputed Mahamud's account,
saying he was one of the barriers to cooperation; see ref A.)




11. (U) BIO-NOTE: Hassan Dahir Mahamud stated that he was an
undergraduate at Leningrad University in the former Soviet
Union and later held a fellowship at Canada's McGill
University. A fluent English speaker, he previously worked
for the UN Development Program (UNDP) in New York, on a
project related to Somalia. A former member of the Somali
Salvation Democratic Front (SSDF), Mahamud opposed the Siad
Barre regime from Ethiopia. He became Puntland Vice
President in 2004. He enjoys drinking Coca Cola and smokes
Benson and Hedges cigarettes with a cigarette holder.
HUDDLESTON