18. Memorandum From Vice President Mondale to President Carter1

Memo No. 408–77


  • My Meeting with Somali Ambassador Addou, May 11, 1977

Somali Ambassador Addou called on me May 11, at his request. He also met last week with Cy Vance.2

Addou began by describing Soviet pressures on Somalia to accept Ethiopia’s existing borders. According to Addou, the Soviets have as their objective the creation of a cluster of states, including Ethiopia, Somalia, Aden, and Djibouti, under Moscow’s influence. Addou stated that Somalia’s national interests dictate otherwise: Somalia seeks the self-determination of Somali people throughout the Horn. Because of this divergence, Somalia is turning to us for economic and military assistance. Addou cautioned that only he and President Siad know of this initiative, which is being pursued at Siad’s request.

Addou expressed satisfaction that a U.S. economic mission would be traveling to Somalia next week to study specific projects. He is concerned, however, about the vagueness of State’s reply concerning [Page 49] military assistance. Somalia recognizes our difficulty in supplying large-scale military aid immediately and, since there is no internal military threat in his country, Addou noted, the U.S. could begin its military supply at a low level. Addou insisted, nevertheless, that we give Somalia a formal reply within one month as to whether we will assist with military hardware. Only the U.S. can help Somalia in dealing with the Soviet Union, Addou added.

I encouraged them, as did Cy Vance, to buy military equipment elsewhere and that we would be supportive of that effort. He then indicated that they might be able to buy military equipment funneled through North Yemen. I’m not sure what he meant by that. He indicated a desire for armored personnel carriers and mortars as desired items. He indicated receptivity to arms being purchased for Somalia in Europe, but he repeatedly emphasized the need for the symbolism of U.S. military support, even though on a limited basis.

In reply to my question, Addou said that military assistance from the U.S. definitely would lead Somalia to reduce the Soviet presence. Somalia would end its military arrangements with the Soviet Union. Somalia only had turned to the USSR in the first place, he said, following U.S. and Western European refusal to help. I asked what the Somalis would be prepared to do regarding Berbera, and Addou replied, without specifying a time, that the Soviet use of these installations also might be reconsidered.3 He insisted that the Soviets simply have access to the port and airfield at Berbera and that the communications center there is jointly operated by the Soviets and the Somalis. Addou observed that the Soviets had infiltrated the entire Somali establishment, including the military, and this all was a very touchy matter. I told Addou that, unlike the Soviets, we have no designs on Somalia.

Addou observed that the Soviets have targeted Ethiopia as a model for communist revolution. Moscow, he noted, never was as certain with Somalia because of Somalia’s strong religious, regional and nationalist commitments.

I told Addou that I would discuss our meeting with you. Addou also hopes to meet with you personally.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 69, Somalia: 1/77–6/78. Secret. Sent for information. Copies were sent to Vance and Brzezinski.
  2. See Document 17.
  3. Documentation on U.S. concern about Soviet use of the port at Berbera is in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XVIII, Middle East Region; Arabian Peninsula.