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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09NAIROBI1047 2009-05-26 12:19:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Nairobi
Cable title:  

SOMALIA - CONTRASTS: MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND SEES

Tags:   PGOV MOPS PTER MARR SOCI SO 
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VZCZCXRO2693
OO RUEHDE RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHNR #1047 1461219
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 261219Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9629
INFO RUCNSOM/SOMALIA COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CJTF HOA
					UNCLAS NAIROBI 001047 

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/E

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV MOPS PTER MARR SOCI SO
SUBJECT: SOMALIA - CONTRASTS: MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND SEES
SUICIDE BOMBING AND UN SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE'S PRESS
CONFERENCE IN MOGADISHU

REF: NAIROBI 1037



1. (SBU) Summary: The May 22 - 25 weekend in Mogadishu began
with an unsuccessful counterattack by TFG forces (reftel),
and ended with a surprise visit by UN Special Representative
Ould-Abdallah. Sandwiched in between was a suicide bombing
near the Police Academy that claimed the lives of six
policemen. In a May 26 telephone conversation, TFG President
Sharif told the Ambassador that "things (in Mogadishu) are
better than what they seem, no matter what the press says."
Sharif thanked the USG for its assistance to his government.
End summary.

Logistical Problems
Undercut TFG Counterattack


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





2. (SBU) The May 22 - 25 Memorial Day weekend began in
Mogadishu with an initially successful counterattack by
Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces (reftel) that,
however, lost momentum in an afternoon retreat that saw
virtually all of the TFG's gains erased. According to SRSG
Ould-Abdallah, who paid a surprise visit to Mogadishu May 25,
and spoke with the TFG, as well as the Ugandan and Burundian
force commanders, gains during the counteroffensive were
erased by TFG communication and logistical problems. The SRSG
was told that the inability to supply the TFG forces with
food and water was at the heart of the logistical problems.



3. (SBU) The TFG retreat to its initial positions on May 22
has not been followed by an insurgent attack, which some have
seen as an encouraging sign. The May 24 suicide bombing about
150 meters from the Police Academy, with rumors in Mogadishu
of more such bombings to come, has suggested to some that the
AMISOM-backed TFG's relative stable control of nine Mogadishu
districts had caused its opponent to change tactics. (The
May 24 bombing reportedly killed six policemen and wounded
several others.) The SRSG told the Ambassador May 25,
immediately following his return from Mogadishu, that the
morale of the TFG leadership was "high," but that TFG
security forces were still contending with discipline and
resource problems. In a separate telephone conversation May
26, TFG President Sharif told the Ambassador that "things are
better than what they seem, no matter what the press says."

A More Robust AMISOM


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





4. (SBU) The TFG leadership also told the SRSG that they
would like to see AMISOM's rules of engagement changed to
allow for more aggressive action, and they pushed for rapid
deployment of additional AMISOM troops.



5. (SBU) On the same day as the SRSG's Mogadishu visit,
President Sharif used a press conference to call for
international help in fighting "foreign militants," praised
the May 20 IGAD communique on Somalia as "correct," and
defended the role of AMISOM as African fighters helping a
"fellow African country."



6. (SBU) In their May 26 telephone conversation, the
Ambassador urged President Sharif to carefully consider the
optics of traveling to Libya May 27 while his rival, Hassan
Dahir Aweys, still stocked Mogadishu. A relaxed Sharif
promised to consider the Ambassador's advice, but countered
that staying in Mogadishu might create the impression that
the TFG was worried about the outcome of the struggle with
its opponents.

Comment


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





7. (SBU) The opposition's recourse to a suicide bombing may
indicate that it does not have the strength at this juncture
to attempt a direct assault o the TFG. By the same token,
the TFG's increasing public and private support for a more
robust AMISOM presence and mandate may suggest that the
African troops are becoming more central to its strategy as
the stalemate in Mogadishu continues.
RANNEBERGER