282. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Somalia 1

424. Ref: Mogadiscio’s 580.2 Department agrees that disturbing situation in Somalia warrants extensive round of approaches suggested reftel. We differentiate between two problems, primarily African one of Ethiopian-Somali crisis for which burden should be shifted to Africans, and problem of deteriorating US-Somali relations.

As for that part of Ethiopia-Somalia problem relating to propaganda truce, believe further US approaches to seek GSR observance now becoming counter-productive. Accordingly we prefer to see Sudanese and other Africans assume this responsibility. Per your request, however, Department has made arrangements for you, Addis and Khartoum to receive broadcasts by cable direct from FBIS London for one week trial period.

Concerning US-Somali relations, recommend you include following in your conversations with GSR officials:

GSR officials have often expressed in recent months their desire for continued US friendship and understanding. We share this desire. US-Somali friendship cannot help but be eroded, however, by growing and disturbing wave anti-US sentiment within Somalia, a development at least partially abetted by GSR. To mention but a few signs of this feeling, we refer to (a) article and statement in “Unione” of February 7 to effect “Ethiopia has encouragement and support of US in policy hostility and aggression against Somalia”; (b) false intelligence re US operational support; (c) rumors US “stimulating Ethiopian attack against Somalia”; and (d) inferences contained President Aden’s radio speech February 17.
Anti-US campaign is precisely type of vicious propaganda which sometimes emanates from and strengthens those forces having vested interest in driving wedge between Somalia and Americans. Believe both US and GSR should be on guard against these pernicious and divisive forces.
USG can well understand degree to which recent hostilities have produced tensions and atmosphere of crisis in Somalia. However, we do not believe answer these tensions lies in unwarranted attacks on third countries.
USG does not have influence over actions another government such as IEG may take in its own interests, regardless of aid program. We have intervened vigorously on both sides to obtain cease-fire, end to fighting, lessening of tensions, stopping of propaganda and facilitation of OAU considerations. USG stands to gain nothing either from violence in Horn or deterioration in Somali-Ethiopian relations. We earnestly hope GSR will appreciate our true position lest US–GSR relations be gravely and permanently damaged.
US interests in Ethiopia, which we freely admit are important, do not deter US from stand of impartiality re Somali-Ethiopian dispute.

FYI: We would welcome further suggestions for actions US might take to allay Somali suspicions. We are particularly concerned at President Aden’s attitude. End FYI.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL SOMALI–US. Confidential; Immediate. Drafted by Galanto, cleared by Newsom, and approved by Tasca. Repeated to Addis Ababa, Khartoum, Lagos, and Nairobi.
  2. In telegram 580 from Mogadiscio, February 20, Torbert described his protests against the continuation of vitriolic propaganda broadcasts in violation of the propaganda moratorium that was a vital part of Somalia’s cease-fire commitment. The Ambassador also stated his intention of making an urgent round of representations to moderates in the Somali Government unless the Department instructed him that this would conflict with current U.S. efforts to shift the burden to the Sudanese and other Africans. (Ibid., POL 32–1 ETH–SOMALI)