296. Memorandum for the Record0

I saw Mohamed Awale Liban, Chef de Cabinet to Somali President Aden, on 11 July 1963, following his talks with Ken Hansen and Dick Donahue.

I expressed our concern that Somalia is “isolating” iteself from its neighbors. Though professing our strong friendship and desire to help Somalia, I pointed out that there was very little non-Africans could do to help the Somalis if they persisted in pushing Greater Somalia to the point where they alienated all the surrounding countries. I’m not sure he got the point, but I suggested the Somalis should realize that the cards are stacked against them and that it would be in their interest to come to some peaceful terms with their more powerful neighbors.

Mr. Liban, after blaming the current NFD tension on the British, said he hoped the US could help with some sort of arbitration since we are friendly with the Kenyans, the British, and the Ethiopians. I reiterated that the primary obstacle was one we couldn’t do much about—the problems and aspirations of Kenyan leaders. Somali and Kenyan rather than US actions would determine outcome of this issue. It had become an “African” issue not a colonial one.

Somalis would find same problem if they turned to Soviets, Chicoms or UAR for backing. These powers would probably be no more willing than we and UK, in last analysis, to provide arms or back Somali claims to point of alienating many other bigger and more powerful African states.

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After an exchange of pleasantries about our respect for the Somali president, we left it that he understands our difficulty over backing Somalia against our other African friends, and our desire to help within our limitations. Liban is obviously a thoughtful and moderate fellow, but he is naturally a heartfelt spokesman for the Somalis whom he feels history has greatly wronged.

R. W. Komer1
  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Somalia. Confidential. Drafted by Komer.
  2. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.