69. Telegram From the Embassy in Ethiopia to the Department of State1

1054. Subj: Ethiopian Forces Recapture Strategic Ogaden Town of Jijiga. Ref: Addis Ababa 1025.

1. French MilAtt was informed March 5 by Soviet MilAtt that Jijiga had been recaptured that morning. Soviet also confirmed that Kara Mara Pass had fallen to Ethiopians. French MilAtt believed that major thrust toward Jijiga was from NNW and was combined Ethiopian-Cuban operation. French MilAtt further stated that Ethiopians took heavy casualties. (This was reflected in original Ethiopian announcement of capture of Jijiga calling on broad masses to be prepared for further recruitment of militia and donations and contributions of blood and revolutionary equipment.) French MilAtt personally thought Ethiopians would not cross Somali frontier and would turn south toward Gode. He also believed reopening of railroad would be priority military objective.

2. Comment: Atmosphere in Addis is one of euphoria following most significant Ethiopian victory in Ogaden since beginning of war. With Jijiga recaptured, it will be particularly significant to note in which direction Ethiopians press their current advantage, especially in light of public assurances that they do not intend to cross Somalia’s frontier. Large public rally had been previously scheduled for March 8 in Addis Ababa to commemorate International Women’s Day. Dirg Chairman Mengistu had also planned to deliver speech at rally. Undoubtedly, he will use occasion to extol Ethiopian victory at Jijiga.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780100–0814. Confidential; Priority. Sent for information to Abu Dhabi, Amman, Bonn, Cairo, Djibouti, Jidda, Khartoum, Kuwait, Lagos, Mogadiscio, Moscow, Nairobi, Paris, Rome, Tehran, USNATO, USUN, London, USINT Havana, USINT Baghdad, COMIDEASTFOR, CINCPAC, and USCINCEUR.