80. Telegram 22877 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Ethiopia1 2

[Page 1]

Subj:

  • Implications for U.S. Policy of Somali Threat to Ethiopia

Ref:

  • Addis 782; Mogadiscio 1642 (Notal)
1.
Dept, DOD and other agencies have had opportunity during Amb. Adair’s consultations to discuss at length with him substance of Addis reftel. General reactions to reftel’s estimates and suggestions are briefly touched upon below.
2.
In general, we agree Embassy assessment of Ethiopian attitude toward situation. We believe resurgence Somali irredentism in Ogaden more likely than direct Somali aggression. Despite increased Soviet shipments of arms to Somalia, we share Mogadiscio reftel (and French) doubts that Soviets would encourage Somalis to take on Ethiopia. You may wish to reaffirm this to Ethiopians and, in view of good relations IEG maintains with Soviets, to suggest that if Ethiopians are as concerned about arms shipments as they tell us, IEG would be well advised to take up matter directly with Soviet (as well as Somali) Government. You may wish reiterate our view that notwithstanding Somali equipment improvements in some categories, IEG remain qualitatively superior. Somalis continue to be seriously hampered by poor logistics and maintenance. When coupled with IEG’s interior line advantage, IEG still [Page 2]capable thwarting possible Somali attack.
3.
While we intend to continue to urge Ethiopians, Kenyans and Somalis to be moderate and to maintain their dialogue, we do not wish to assume role of principal keeper of the peace in Horn of Africa. We believe, rather, that settlement of disputes there is primarily responsibility of the African people, governments and international organizations directly affected.
4.
All this is not to say we insensitive to Ethiopian and Embassy concern about MAP level and to growing pressures for high level meeting. Upon his return to Addis, Ambassador will be able describe to Embassy current Washington thinking on these and other subjects raised in reftel.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL ETH-US. Secret. Repeated to Bonn, London, Mogadiscio, Moscow, Nairobi, Paris, Rome, Tel Aviv, Asmara, and USCINCEUR. Drafted by Melone; cleared in AF/E, EUR/SOV, PM/ISO, DOD/ISA, AF/RA, and PM/MAS; approved by Newsom.
  2. An interagency response to Document 78 found general agreement with its analysis, but concluded that the Somali threat was not imminent and that the United States should not be the keeper of the peace in the Horn of Africa.