DE RUEHDS #0286/01 0370754
P 060754Z FEB 08 ZDK





E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/01/2018 

Classified By: Ambassador Donald Yamamoto for Reasons: 1.4 (B) and (D). 

¶1.  (C/NF)  SUMMARY.  On January 31, Assistant Secretary 
Frazer met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in a 
broad ranging 100 minute discussion on Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, 
Somaliland, and the Eritrean border.  Also in attendance were 
Ambassador Yamamoto, Ambassador Courville, Sudan S/E 
Williamson, AF/SPG Director Lauren Landis, and notetakers. 
A/S Frazer opened by noting that Kenya is in a dangerous 
position, but that both President Kibaki and Raila Odinga 
have the potential to reach a settlement.  Meles assessed 
that both sides were playing hardball and that the 
international community should place greater pressure on the 
opposition to reign in the violence.  Meles said the key 
challenge in Sudan was to manage the North-South tension to 
avoid a meltdown in 2011.  Regarding Somalia, Meles said that 
his government had developed a three track approach to be 
presented to President Yusuf on Yusuf's return from London. 
First, Meles said he hoped Ethiopian troops would withdraw 
from Somalia by summer to be replaced by African Union and 
newly trained Transitional Federal Government (TFG) forces. 
Second, his government would reach out to the opposition 
within Somalia, and third, his government would reach out to 
the external opposition.  On Somaliland, A/S Frazer and Meles 
agreed that they were not opposed to formal recognition, but 
that the African Union should take the lead.  Meles said that 
Ethiopia would not drop out of the Algiers Peace Accord 
process and that sufficient changes had been made in UNSC 
resolution 1798, but he added that the Eritrea-Ethiopia 
Boundary Commission's (EEBC) "virtual demarcation" decision 
should not be supported by the UN.  Lastly, Meles said the 
United Nation's Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) could 
move in its entirety to Ethiopia if UNMEE was forced out of 
Eritrea.  END SUMMARY. 


¶2.  (C/NF)  The meeting opened with an hour-long tour 
d'horizon on the repercussions of the Kenyan elections. 
Assistant Secretary Frazer began the discussion by noting 
that Kenya is a dangerous situation, and not just as a local 
or national problem, but also an international concern in 
light of the terrorist presence in Kenya that might seek to 
exploit the situation for their benefit.  A/S Frazer said 
that she thinks both Kibaki and Odinga have the potential to 
be reasonable and reach a settlement.  A/S Frazer noted that 
the impact of the violence includes the loss of foreign 
business and investment, as well as the loss of the U.S. 
Peace Corps presence. 

¶3.  (C/NF) Meles said that he feels that both sides are 
playing hardball, and agreed that the situation is very 
dangerous.   Meles said he was not sure what happened with 
the elections, but feels that Kibaki had been more 
accommodating in the beginning and has hardened his position 
as the situation has developed. A/S Frazer responded that the 
hardening of Kibaki,s position is because of the 
post-election violence.  Kibaki saw Odinga as responsible for 
the violence and felt that he could not trust Odinga, which 
caused him to harden his position.  However, A/S Frazer said 
that Kibaki may be in a better position to bring stability to 
the situation.  Kibaki has the power of the state behind him 
and is the only decision-maker on his side, while Odinga is 
one of five making the decisions.  Odinga is probably the 
most reasonable of the five, but he is constrained by the 
hard-liners within his coalition.  For example, William Ruto 
presents one face to the international community, but then 
turns and uses the radio to incite violence. 

¶4.  (C/NF) Meles opined that the opposition has been given a 
free ride; all the pressure has been on President Kibaki, not 
the opposition, even though they are responsible for most of 
the violence. This is giving the wrong message to the 
opposition.  Kibaki,s government, even if it has not made 
good decisions, has not incited violence.  A/S Frazer noted 
that it is difficult to have leverage over the opposition, 
since the natural leverage of a government is over another 
government, rather than an opposition group.  The United 

ADDIS ABAB 00000286  002 OF 005 

States is advocating a message of accountability on all 
sides, both government and opposition.  A/S Frazer noted that 
some Kikuyu politicians are beginning to use the Mungiki 
militia to retaliate against the violence carried out by the 

¶5.  (C/NF) Meles noted that the opposition used the 
perception that the government had stolen the election to 
incite violence, but the main violence and victims of attacks 
were in the rural areas, not the capital.  Meles said that 
"none of us spoke strongly enough against the ethnic 
cleansing" that was taking place in the rural areas.  Now the 
"Kikuyu establishment" is using militias, such as the 
Mungiki, to retaliate in a "payback period."  It has to be 
made clear to the Kikuyu establishment that ethnic cleansing 
is unacceptable as a response to the violence and that they 
cannot "fight fire with fire" or use militias to fight on 
their behalf. 

¶6.  (C/NF) A/S Frazer responded that the U.S. message is the 
same: ethnic cleansing is unacceptable and all sides must be 
held accountable for the violence.  However, A/S Frazer noted 
that this is difficult because Odinga is an excellent 
communicator and very good at playing the victim and the 
media love the concept of the "good guy" versus the "bad 
guy."  A/S Frazer said that she feels that the situation must 
be resolved quickly, particularly before the U.S. Congress 
and UN Security Council come back into session and begin to 
focus on Kenya, when the challenge will be to fight a battle 
against overreaction.  A/S Frazer emphasized that the U.S. 
focus is on the process led by former UN Secretary-General 
Kofi Annan and that the United States will follow Annan,s 
direction.  Following Annan,s lead will also help keep the 
U.S. Congress from overreacting to the situation.  The key is 
a negotiated political agreement, which will then influence 
the international response. 

¶7.  (C/NF) A/S Frazer said that it appears that Kibaki is 
trying to consolidate power, while Odinga wants to 
internationalize the conflict and maintain a state of crisis. 
 There is a danger that the situation could lead to civil 
war.  A/S Frazer noted that Secretary Rice had recently 
spoken with Annan, and Annan mentioned that he had suggested 
to Kibaki that he bring the military out in a limited way, 
but that Kibaki demurred based on concerns regarding ethnic 
divisions within the military.  If the ethnic divisions 
become more pronounced because of the violence, A/S Frazer 
expressed her concern that it could lead to a coup d,etat. 
The Kikuyu response could lead to civil war, as many Kikuyu 
fundamentally don't believe that the election was stolen and 
are incensed by the violence that the opposition is 

¶8.  (C/NF) Unfortunately, Meles responded, the international 
reaction thus far does not inspire moderation.  The EU 
response of cutting off assistance gives the message that 
Kibaki is the "bad guy" and does not push Odinga or his group 
to moderate their positions.  While the military may not 
quit, they will not be monolithically behind Kibaki, which is 
why some Kikuyu are turning to the militia instead.  The 
"single-minded focus on Kibaki" is not productive for a 
peaceful settlement and will only entrench hard-liners on 
both sides.  Meles said that a more balanced approach is 
needed to encourage a peaceful process. 

¶9.  (C/NF) A/S Frazer said that she personally believes that 
Kibaki could change the dynamics single-handedly overnight 
with a public address that is not defensive but a true 
"Mandela moment."  Until this point, Kibaki has been "stage 
managing" his presidency, but needs to be more substantive in 
his messages to the people.  Kibaki must also control his 
supporters, some of whom have tried to undermine his positive 
efforts towards compromise.  A/S Frazer noted that the 
opposition prefers the term coalition to government of 
national unity, which they already tried in the past and did 
not work.  A/S Frazer also opined that the government could 
improve the situation by lifting the restrictions on the 
media and asked the media to behave responsibly, which could 
have the effect of making the opposition look very small in 

ADDIS ABAB 00000286  003 OF 005 

¶10.  (C/NF) Meles agreed that Kibaki is not violent by 
nature, but has only been going after the foot soldiers, not 
the organizers of the violence on the Kikuyu side.  Meles 
believes this is because Kibaki can only rely on a "100 
percent Kikuyu institution" that includes the "bosses" that 
have organized the Kikuyu-led violence.  This puts Kibaki 
into a dangerous situation if he reaches out to the 
opposition without guarantees that they will respond 
positively.  A/S Frazer responded by noting that Odinga,s 
heart is not in violence and would be likely to accept a 
compromise.  However, it is not clear what kind of deal he 
might agree to take. But by reaching out, A/S Frazer said, 
Kibaki could place the media pressure on Odinga to agree, 
rather than keep it on himself. 

¶11.  (C/NF) Meles said that it would be helpful for the 
United States, in coordination with the EU, to speak to both 
the opposition and key Kikuyu figures in clear terms 
regarding accountability for the violence.  Meles said that 
he planned to meet with Kibaki at the AU Summit during an 
IGAD meeting on the margins of the Summit.  Meles emphasized 
Ethiopia's direct stake in the situation in Kenya and that 
Ethiopia "cannot sit idly by" or afford further instability 
in Kenya that could impact the broader region.  While "we 
should not pour oil on fire, we must understand where Kibaki 
is coming from, and that he has to be seen to defend Kikuyu 
interests" and keep his Kikuyu base.  Meles promised to 
follow-up via Ambassador Yamamoto following the IGAD meeting. 

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

¶12.  (C/NF)  Meles said that the key challenge in Sudan was 
to manage the tension between the North and South through 
2011 to avoid a meltdown.  Meles was sympathetic to the 
ongoing situation in Sudan, both Darfur and implementation of 
the CPA, but said he thought that the CPA was the more 
complicated issue. He admitted that Ethiopia's primary 
concern was the CPA, particularly given its shared border 
with Sudan, which touches both North and South.  A/S Frazer 
relayed that recent negative rhetoric towards the US from the 
ruling National Congress Party (NCP) is unhelpful, 
specifically talk of declaring the Charge d'Affaires persona 
non grata.  Meles agreed it was unhelpful, but pointed out 
that the government in Khartoum is "not a one man show" and 
he did not think these threats were serious.  Frazer 
continued that she was also extremely concerned about 
information that the Government of Sudan is considering 
kicking out the vital Pacific Architects and Engineers 
contractors responsible for building the peacekeeper building 
camps; without which UNAMID would be crippled.  Meles opined 
that the NCP was posturing a bit and that they would not push 
too far. 


¶13.  (C/NF) On Somalia, Meles said that his government "had 
been reviewing our options," and will present its 
recommendations to President Abdullahi Yusuf when he passes 
through Addis on his return from London.  Meles said that he 
is hoping to withdraw most of our troops, if not all of them, 
by the summer.  Meles was hopeful that additional forces from 
the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) would be on the 
ground by the time of Ethiopia's withdrawal, including the 
remaining Burundian forces and the Nigerian battalion, and 
that the forces from the TFG that had been trained by 
Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda would be able to play 
a greater role in maintaining security.  At this point, the 
Ethiopian forces will withdraw to the Ethiopian side of the 
border, where they would be ready to respond quickly should 
something happen, but the combined TFG and AMISOM forces 
would be responsible for maintaining security.  Meles noted 
that some elements within the TFG were mistakenly counting on 
an indefinite Ethiopian presence and said that he hoped that 
Ethiopia's withdrawal would help those elements within the 
TFG become more flexible. 

ADDIS ABAB 00000286  004 OF 005 

¶14.  (C/NF) At the same time, Ethiopia will pursue a second 
track of continuing to reach out to the opposition and 
helping to make the TFG "more effective."  Noting the complex 
clan balances in the Mogadishu and Kismaayo areas, Meles said 
that he was encouraging the TFG to form regional governments 
in both areas to help bring greater stability and help 
balance clan sensitivities.  Meles said that he was 
continuing to engage with the Hawiye, particularly the Habir 
Gedir sub-clan, and that he was pleased that Ahmed Abdisalam 
Adan (Hawiye/Habir Gedir/Ayr) had been brought into the new 
TFG Cabinet as one of the Deputy Prime Ministers.  In 
response to a question from A/S Frazer, Meles indicated that 
it may be possible for the TFG to dismiss Mogadishu Mayor 
Mohamed Dheere (Hawiye/Abgal).  However, Meles seemed to be 
more concerned regarding the situation in Kismaayo, where the 
problems were within the Darood clan rather than the Hawiye. 
(Comment: While President Yusuf is from the Darood/Mijerteen 
sub-clan, the Darood presence in Kismaayo is largely from the 
Darood/Marehan sub-clan. End Comment.) 

¶15.  (C/NF) Meles also noted that his government had been 
reaching out to the external opposition based in Asmara. 
Meles opined that the opposition seemed uncomfortable with 
the current situation and that it was now possible to bring 
the opposition back into a political process.  Saudi Arabia 
could also play a helpful role in persuading some of the 
former members of the Council of Islamic Courts to come back 
into a political process, according to Meles.  At the same 
time, said Meles, there are now divisions within the Shabaab, 
and "Aweys may no longer be in control" of the movement. 
Meles emphasized the importance of isolating the Shabaab, 
building the capacity of the TFG, and reaching out to the 
opposition and key stakeholders.  Meles said that he had 
discussed parts of this strategy with TFG Prime Minister Nur 
"Adde" Hassan Hussein, but that they were waiting to discuss 
the military components with President Yusuf first given his 
sensitivities on military arrangements. 

¶16.  (C/NF) A/S Frazer responded that this sounded like a 
good plan, but one that required lots of work both with 
AMISOM and the TFG.  A/S Frazer noted that Ugandan President 
Museveni had offered--pending discussions with his officials 
at home--to deploy an additional two battalions under AMISOM 
if the U.S. could provide financial support, which we would 
try to do.  Meles responded that this would be very helpful 
and said that he would speak to Museveni about this 
possibility.  Meles also noted the importance of training an 
effective Somali police force and that he was hoping to train 
more Somali police if financial support could be identified. 
A/S Frazer responded that we would see if we could identify 
any funds to support this effort. 


¶17.  (C/NF) Turning to Somaliland, A/S Frazer noted the 
recent visit of Somaliland President Dahir Rayale Kahin to 
Washington.  While some may interpret this visit as a sign 
that the U.S. was on the verge of formal recognition, A/S 
Frazer clarified that the United States was not getting ready 
to recognize Somaliland, but believed that it was important 
to engage with them to ensure regional stability.  At the 
same time, A/S Frazer said that the United States would not 
be opposed to Somaliland independence if it should happen 
within an AU context.  A/S Frazer said that she had raised 
the issue with AU Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konare, who seemed 
to be placing unrealistic conditions for addressing the 
Somaliland issue.  The first was that Somaliland negotiate 
with the government in Mogadishu, either the TFG or its 
successor, regarding its independence, and the second was 
that there be a regional consensus on Somaliland's status, 
neither of which are likely to happen or result in any clear 

¶18.  (C/NF) Meles said that Ethiopia's position on Somaliland 
was the same as that of the United States, but that the 
political situation within the AU was not yet ripe for 
addressing the Somaliland issue.  Meles said that he met with 

ADDIS ABAB 00000286  005 OF 005 

Rayale upon his return from Washington and urged him to write 
to the AU requesting that they identify a timeframe for a 
discussion on the Somaliland issue.  However, Rayale "messed 
things up" by essentially re-sending his previous letter 
requesting recognition and membership in the AU, rather than 
asking for a timeframe for a discussion on Somaliland.  Meles 
said that, if Somaliland had taken the route that he 
suggested, it would have been likely that the issue could 
have been addressed soon.  However, if the elections for a 
new AU Chairperson take place during the AU Summit, Meles 
said that the next chairperson is unlikely to be as positive 
towards Somaliland as Konare, which will only further delay 
any discussion of Somaliland. 

¶19.  (C/NF) Meles also noted the complications of the current 
political situation inside Somaliland with the delays in 
preparations for the municipal and presidential elections. 
While avoiding any specifics, Meles said that the clan 
dynamics in Somaliland were out of balance, but that it was 
important to convey to Rayale that he could not rely on 
"outside forces" to tilt the balance in his favor.  Even if 
Ethiopia tried to intervene on Rayale,s behalf, Meles said, 
the effort would fail. 


¶20.  (C/NF)  Prime Minister Meles told A/S Frazer and 
Ambassador that Ethiopia would not drop out of the Algiers 
Peace Accord process.  Sufficient changes had been made in 
the UNSC resolution 1798 extending UNMEE operations by six 
months to allow Ethiopia to remain in the process.  Meles 
added that the EEBC's "virtual demarcation" decision of 
November 2006 was not in accordance with the Algiers process 
and should not be supported or affirmed by the U.N.  Meles 
has told the international community in the past that the 
border is symptomatic of deeper bilateral problems between 
Ethiopia and Eritrea and that the way forward is through 
direct dialogue between Eritrea and Ethiopia on the 
fundamental differences that divide the countries and which 
gave rise to the border conflict before demarcation can be 
peacefully implemented.  Without this step, there can be no 
lasting peace between the two countries. 

¶21.  (C/NF)  A/S Frazer asked what would have been the 
consequences of dropping out of the Algiers Agreement.  Meles 
noted that had Ethiopia dropped out of the Algiers Process, 
it would not have changed Ethiopia's position to remain 
committed to avoiding conflict with Eritrea.  Dropping out 
would have consolidated hard-liners within his own government 
who advocate a tougher line with Eritrea and the U.N., and 
confused the Eritreans.  Meles opined that there has been no 
renewed border war because Eritrean citizens believe Ethiopia 
has no design to take over Eritrea.  This has induced 
Eritreans to flee to Sudan and Ethiopia to escape the harsh 
conditions and mandatory national service in Eritrea. 
Dropping out of the process could have sent a confusing 
message to Eritrea and raised tensions along the border. 

¶22.  (C/NF) In consultations with the UN Secretary General's 
office, Meles said Ethiopia agreed to welcome and host the 
entire UNMEE force should Eritrea continue with its fuel 
restrictions and limitations on UNMEE operations.  This would 
be for the short term and that over a longer period, Ethiopia 
expected to see UNMEE transition into an observer mission and 
that they could operate entirely from the Ethiopia side. 

¶23.  (U)  A/S Frazer cleared this cable. 

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