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

353. Deptel 341.2 Department believes recent manifestations political instability in Tanganyika-Zanzibar area as well as US-Ethiopian bilateral relations require US endeavor impress GSR with growing US concern over threat to stability of Horn region arising out of increasing number reports of GSR arms support for Ogaden Somalis. While not in any sense implying threat, we feel GSR should be aware their pressures on IEG result in counter pressures on US we cannot ignore. Appreciate that depth GSR sensitivities on ethnic Somali parties and particularly sensitive atmosphere preceding March elections may make tactful but nonetheless frank demarche by you difficult. Nevertheless believe recent border incidents, which were subject GSR convocation of Chiefs of Mission January 19, suggest to us increasing tenseness IEG-GSR relations with consequences for Horn area and for GSR which we believe GSR would wish avoid.

Dept therefore requests you seek appointment with Foreign Minister early next week at which following points should be made in context of US consideration points made by GSR at January 19 convocation:

Dept has noted approach made to Ambassador re border incident. While we are not in position make judgments on incidents in area, our position clear to IEG that we do not condone violations frontiers. Somalia’s troubles with Ethiopia and Kenya come in juxtaposition with other recent East African events which have focused US concern and attention on this area. Violence of any kind, regardless of whether it is done in furtherance of cause which one side believes inherently and unquestionably just, tends to play into hands those forces working against independence and true sovereignty African countries.
Against this background, Dept also wishes express its concern over seeming mounting level incidents in Horn area.
Through our Ambassador in Addis, we have been trying persuade HIM that purely military solution not answer to Ogaden question, that economic and social measures to improve lot of Ogaden Somalis, coupled with effort seek areas of agreement, however small, with GSR, offer superior chances achieving long-range solution. Increasing reports [Page 488] of arms support to Ogaden Somalis from GSR side of border can only undermine such attempts on part USG, creating situation in which we cannot afford be unresponsive to pressure for further military assistance from IEG.
Reports emanating from Addis Ababa and Nairobi, recent conclusion IEG-GOK Defense Pact, and exchange visits by official delegations indicate serious view Ethiopia and Kenya take on matter of GSR support for activities of Ogaden and NFD Somalis.
Reports of GSR arms support to Ogaden Somalis also becoming too numerous for USG to discount and tend belie GSR declarations about adhering to peaceful and legal means in pursuing goal of union all Somali peoples.
In Horn and East Africa area, priority objective US policy is maintenance of peace and stability. With each member Ethiopia-Somalia-Kenya triangle we wish sustain best possible relations. In this context, we have in spirit of frankness and friendship brought this concern to attention GSR.3

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 32–1 ETH–SOMALI. Secret. Immediate. Drafted by AFN Deputy Director James J. Blake and Galanto, cleared by W. Paul O’Neill of AFE, and approved by Tasca. Repeated to Addis Ababa, Nairobi, and POLAD CINCSTRIKE/CINCMEAFSA.
  2. Document 275.
  3. In telegram 490 from Mogadiscio, January 28, Ambassador Horace Torbert reported that he had delivered the Department’s message to the Somali Foreign Minister on January 27 and had also covered it in substance with the President on January 26. Both had denied any official Somali support to the insurrection. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 32–1 ETH–SOMALI)