275. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Somalia1

341. As March 8 national elections approach, Department believes would be helpful set forth, for Embassy comment and appropriate local use, summary US attitudes and policies toward Somali Republic. We do not intend formal demarche, but do hope salient points can be conveyed to key Somalis in such manner as Embassy believes appropriate and effective.

US remains interested in independence and well-being Somali Republic as indicated by our aid program and earlier efforts provide defense assistance. US is in no sense abandoning its continuing interest in close and friendly relations with Somalia.
As friend we are disturbed at growing isolation of Somalia in Africa and progressive deterioration of relations with Ethiopia and Kenya. We realize importance in Somali eyes of cause of self-determination for all Somali minorities. At same time in African eyes, colonial boundaries are almost universally recognized even when tribal lines are crossed. Also in African eyes Somali pursuit of claims through propaganda often directed at neighbors appears belie “peaceful and legal means” called for in Somali constitution, creating image of Somalia as trouble-maker, as country swimming against prevailing African currents of legitimacy, territorial integrity, and peaceful settlement of disputes.
In US view, GSR is neither as directly implicated in supporting dissidence as IEG and GOK claim nor as uninvolved as GSR officials proclaim. We recognize pressures acting on Somali leaders: domestic pressures to further cause of unification of all Somali people; pressures from Kenya and Ethiopia Somalis to support their activities against GOK and IEG. Nevertheless, in broader sense and in African context, we must also recognize that Ethiopia and Kenya possess sound reasons for construing as unfriendly and hostile acts certain GSR activities such as propaganda, [Page 485] acquiescence in use of GSR territory as a safe-haven for dissidents and gun-running, mere existence of which is troublesome regardless of scale.
Source of difficulty in sum is Somali irredentism. While US understands GSR cannot forego interest Somali in neighboring countries, active and militant pursuit of territory of neighboring states isolates Somalia, builds dangerous pressures on its economy and security and creates special difficulties for those who have been longest and most active supporters independent Somali Republic.
Pressures are growing on US to assist Somalia’s neighbors in problem they face. The US does not desire create further difficulties with Somalia, nor add to tensions in Horn, yet to extent GSA appears condoning insurgency in neighboring states, US cannot be deaf to appeals of its other friends.
It is our impression Soviet arms program will be increasingly viewed as manifestation of unfortunate concentration of GSR on militant aspects of “Greater Somalia” designs. As we have said in past, we are greatly concerned not only by increase of Soviet influence in Somalia but by detrimental impact military build-up will have on priorities of economic development. We believe it is not too late to slow down pace and effect of Soviet arms program.
From Africa and elsewhere observers will look upon Somali elections as turning point which in all likelihood will present GSR with three alternative courses of action: first, continuation of present policies which are characterized by partial support of Somali dissidents across the borders and hesitancy to come to grips with the problem by direct talks with Ethiopians and Kenyans; second, stepped up or all-out campaign in support of Kenyan and Ethiopian Somali separatist movements; or third, demonstration of sincere desire on part of Somali leadership to improve relations with Somalia’s neighbors and seek constructive measures for solution or at least alleviation of border and territorial disputes by peaceful settlements and not through force. We believe welfare and acceptance Somalia can be best assured by latter course.

Note: Foregoing is Noforn for information posts.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL SOMALI–US. Confidential. Drafted by Galanto and Newsom on January 13; cleared by Hadsel, AFE Deputy Director for Eastern African Affairs Wendell B. Coote, and Director of AID’s Office of Eastern/Southern African Affairs Willard Muller; and approved by Tasca. Sent by pouch to Nairobi, Addis Ababa, Bonn, Dar-es-Salaam, Kampala, London, Moscow, and Rome.