283. Telegram 180 From the Embassy in Somalia to the Department of State1 2

[Page 1]


  • General Siadʼs Views on US-Somali Relations

1. In line with suggestions received from various sources that I seek to dispel some of Supreme Revolutionary Councilʼs suspicion of US intentions and activities, I met with SRC President General Siad on Jan 26 for long, rambling, friendly and not very conclusive conversation.

2. After introducing DCM Dennis I discussed web of suspicion which I had heard false informers were weaving. I branded as completely false the theme that (1) USG is hostile to the revolutionary government. I cited not only our efforts to be even-handed toward various governments which have been in power in Somalia but our endorsement of the aims of the SRC. I demonstrated that the charge USG was cutting its aid and private investment in Somalia and urging others to do likewise is patently nonsense. Here I cited USG willingness to cancel phase-out of aid programs and described our encouragement of US private investment activities. I emphasized that it would be directly counter to our policy of peace and prosperity [Page 2] in the Horn to discourage others from assisting Somalia. We believed Somaliaʼs desire for independence and prosperity could best be served by support from as wide a field of international and bilateral donors as possible. Finally I cited false rumors respecting USG support for Ethiopian military moves and flatly denied either knowledge of or support for them.

3. General Siad expressed gratitude for the frank statement. He recounted at some length his reasoning as to why the “common people” of Somalia are allegedly anti-US. He attributed this to thoughtless behavior over the years of employees of US prospecting firms. Not understanding nomads and poorer people, they had offended their pride and disregarded their property. Poorer people have been less aware of more representative US presence of intellectuals and diplomats. He admitted there were many rumors and they made job of SRC more difficult but those who circulate them would be put in their correct place. SRC could not dispel feelings of poorer people overnight but must act in best interests of country as whole to solve problems of hunger, disease and ignorance.

4. Somalia was ready to accept assistance from a variety of donors, and he hoped a rich and powerful country like the US could give more. Then he reiterated that it must be Somalia which decides how assistance is to be used or otherwise it would not be used for the best interest of the people as a whole. He repeated this theme with several variations and expressed the hope that US and others would understand and respect this desire of Somalia to make its own decisions.

5. Siad sought to brush away any implication that Somalia may be dominated by Soviets through USSR military and economic assistance programs. He said that fact of these programs could never force him a Moslem to become Communist. He expanded on his and the SRCʼs love of freedom and determination to avoid interference from abroad.

6. Whereas Siad stressed his need to reflect the views of the population as a whole on domestic matters, he said it was the responsibility of him and of Said to prevent hostilities between Ethiopia and Somalia. He said with feeling that the two peoples must live side by side in peace for the ages. He commented without rancor on US military aid to Ethiopia and consequent Soviet military aid to Somalia. He wished all these arms could be dropped into the ocean.

[Page 3]

7. Siad gave vague answers to specific questions. He said that question of recognition of the Viet Nam National Liberation Front is pending action in the SRC. (I had told him that such recognition and the Somali flag shipping problem could greatly complicate the atmosphere in USG for aid to Somalia.) He made no substantive comment on flag shipping. I also cited as a problem bias in the press. He claimed that 90 per cent of what is in the press does not rpt not represent government policy. He said difficulty is lack of trained journalists— sometimes also writers let revolutionary fervor get better of any good sense of relations with other countries.

8. In effort to give talk positive aspects I mentioned various opportunities opening up for Somalia and US to work together, such as exchange of persons and leader grants, public safety program, self-help projects and regional range management.

9. Comment: General Siad sought earnestly to convince us of his independence and national spirit as well as desire improve US-Somali relations. Patience and work would be required to provide food, health and education which his people needed and that effort coupled [Page 4] with national independence was above all the most important. Disclaiming any dictatorial ambitions, Siad emphasized that he merely wanted to serve his people. I believe this frank discussion was worthwhile both in setting the record straight on suspicions regarding US and in seeking to develop better understanding with SRC.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970—73, POL Somali-US. Secret; Limdis. Repeated to Addis Ababa, Rome, and CINCSTRIKE.
  2. Ambassador Hadsel reported on his meeting with President General Siad of the Supreme Revolutionary Council, during which he indicated U.S. willingness to cancel its phase-out of AID programs and described U.S. encouragement of private investment activities. Hadsel told Siad that recognition of North Vietnam and Somali flag ships carrying cargo there could create significant problems. Siad sought to brush away any implication that Somalia might be dominated by the Soviets through military and economic assistance programs.