27. Summary of Conclusions of a Policy Review Committee Meeting1


  • Horn of Africa


  • NSC

    • Zbigniew Brzezinski
    • David Aaron
    • Paul Henze
  • Defense

    • Charles Duncan
    • Walter Slocombe
  • JCS

    • Patrick J. Hannifin
  • State

    • Warren Christopher, Chairman
    • William Harrop
    • Richard Post
  • CIA

    • Stansfield Turner
    • William Parmenter
  • USUN

    • James Leonard


The meeting reviewed the situation of each of the five Horn countries in light of the tensions created by Somali and Eritrean insurgent advances in Ethiopia and the increasing evidence of deterioration of Mengistu’s regime. It was decided:

• to accelerate our efforts to provide support to Sudan

• to take steps to reassure and strengthen Kenya

• to try to get as many African leaders as possible to participate in a call to all outside powers to refrain from supplying arms to fuel the Ethiopian-Somali confrontation so that there can be a cease-fire and an effort at mediation.

It was concluded that since the U.S. does not want to supply arms to either Ethiopia or Somalia now but the Soviets are supplying to both, an appeal for an arms embargo would dramatize the destructive role the Soviets are playing in the area.

It was also decided that we should keep up dialogue with the Somalis, even though we do not want to supply arms, and that we should reciprocate the Ethiopians’ desire to talk to us about their present predicament, though there is no case for meeting their request that [Page 65] we send an Ambassador.2 To send an Ambassador to Ethiopia now might lead the Somalis to conclude that we were tilting decisively against them. We will go ahead too with two small aid projects in Ethiopia to show our concern for its people and we will look for opportunities to provide modest economic assistance to Djibouti. We will look into the possibility of some medical aid for both Ethiopia and Somalia.

It was concluded that we want to enhance our longer-range chances for increasing our influence in both Ethiopia and Somalia while doing what we can to ensure that the Soviets gain as little as possible—or in fact, lose—from their current involvement. Meanwhile we want to try to persuade other Africans to feel a sense of responsibility for what is happening between Ethiopia and Somalia.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files 1977–1981, Box 184, PRC 033 Horn of Africa, 8/25/77. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.
  2. After Ambassador Hummel left Addis Ababa on July 6, 1976 (see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–6, Documents on Africa, Document 162), there was no Ambassador at the Embassy until Chapin arrived at post on July 21, 1978.