302. Information Memorandum From the Deputy Director of the Office of Northern African Affairs (Blake) to the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (Williams)1


  • Trouble in the Horn of Africa

During the past week the situation in the Horn of Africa has grown more serious, as indicated in the telegram traffic.

As usual, there are conflicting reports. The Ethiopian Government has recalled its Ambassador in Mogadiscio for consultation, charging that Somali propaganda broadcasts have violated the Khartoum truce agreement and contributed to deteriorating relations. TDCS reports from Mogadiscio and Somali press reports indicate serious clashes inside the Ogaden between Somalis and Ethiopian troops, possible moving up of Ethiopian forces to the border (within the demilitarized zone) and alleged IEG overflights of Somali territory. However, IEG sources deny any substantial clashes in the Ogaden occurred and a MAAG advisor who was recently in Ogaden saw no evidence of unusual activity. Prime Minister Abdirazak has expressed to our Charge his deep concern that the situation may escalate and threaten his government and moderate policies.

We have prepared messages to Addis Ababa and Mogadiscio concerning steps that might be taken to calm the situation and have discussed these messages with Ambassador Korry.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 32–1 ETH–SOMALI. Confidential. Drafted by Officer in Charge of Somalian Affairs Peter C. Walker.
  2. Telegram 336 to Mogadiscio, March 22, instructed the Charge to express to the Prime Minister U.S. concern at reports of fighting in the Ogaden and U.S. support for direct Somali-Ethiopian talks to calm the situation. (Ibid.) Telegram 1035 to Addis Ababa, March 23, instructed the Embassy to informally contact Ethiopian Ambassador Ahadu to elicit his views of IEG thinking before deciding whether to make an official approach to the Foreign Minister to express U.S. concern and to convey to the Ambassador the U.S. view that the most appropriate channel for working out Ethiopian-Somali problems would be direct discussions between the two governments. (Ibid.)