291. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Ethiopia1

832. Addis Ababa’s 985.2 For Ambassador. Department strongly supports your prompt expression of concern to IEG officials over Hargeisa bombing raid. We are seriously disturbed by apparent irresponsible character of attack involving US MAP-supplied equipment, by possibility IEG military may be taking matters in own hands, by implications for Khartoum arrangements, and by effect on situation in Somalia, including formation new government.

While we appreciate risks to US position in Ethiopia of appearing assume IEG culpability such incidents, we believe seriousness this one requires expression our displeasure at highest levels. Unless, therefore, you see overriding objections, request you seek audience with HIM and convey following prefacing your remarks with reiteration US support Ethiopian territorial integrity and independence:

US has, of course, been aware growing strain and tension in Ethiopia as result of Ogaden insurgency problem. Nevertheless, had hoped some relaxation might result from Khartoum talks to which we attached great importance. Therefore, confirmed reports of attack on [Page 508] Hargeisa which laid to IEG following successful conclusion those talks received here with sharp sense of shock and disbelief.
HIM must be aware serious complications utilization by IEG of US-supplied equipment in such raid. US has always maintained its MAP to Ethiopia was conditional on IEG undertaking to use equipment solely for defensive purposes. IEG must also be aware Congressional requirement that grant US military aid to Africa be limited to internal security requirements or civic action purposes.
Ethiopia remains largest recipient US military aid in Africa. This, we believe, indicates importance we attach to Ethiopia as major factor working for African stability and as symbol African responsibility. Our ability to continue to be responsive to IEG requests for help obviously is not helped by such actions as the Hargeisa attack.
US hopes Emperor can assure actions such as Hargeisa attack and border crossings by IEGF do not recur. Failure of Ethiopian armed forces to maintain tight command and control over their air and ground elements, in what is admittedly difficult and often provocative situation, could raise serious questions regarding situation in Ethiopia and intentions of IEG.
In frankly conveying foregoing US views to HIM, Ambassador has been specifically instructed to reiterate that US continues to attach great value to Ethiopian friendship and remains deeply appreciative of serious internal security problem with which Emperor is confronted. US therefore believes that tangible US evidence of that friendship and of its support for broadly conceived solutions to insurgency problem should not be made more difficult by such developments as Hargeisa attack.

Department has taken into account considerations contained Embtel 9883 just received and continues believe approach by you desirable.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 31–1 ETH–SOMALI. Secret; Priority. Drafted by Blake and Newsom and approved by Tasca. Repeated to Khartoum, POLAD CINCMEAFSA Tampa, and Mogadiscio.
  2. Dated March 31. (Ibid.)
  3. Dated April 1. (Ibid.)