72. Telegram From the Embassy in Somalia to the Department of State1

476. Somali Intention To Withdraw From the Ogaden. Ref: Mogadiscio 0475 (Notal).2

1. The Western Ambassadors were called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at 1400Z this afternoon, March 9, where the following statement was read by Director General Mohamed Sharif: Begin text. The Government of the Somali Democratic Republic (GSDR) would like to communicate to you the latest developments in the Horn of Africa. There has been fierce fighting between the western Somali liberation fronts on the one hand and the Ethiopians and the unholy alliance of the Soviet Union and its foreign allies on the other. The international community has been following with growing dismay the massive deployment of destructive and sophisticated weapons. Friendly countries have proposed on many occasions the withdrawal of our (GSDR) units in order to create an atmosphere conducive to a negotiated settlement. The GSDR has decided to effect such a withdrawal. Friendly countries are requested to exert all diplomatic influence in order to realize the following:

(1) Withdrawal of all foreign troops,

(2) A cease fire,

(3) Negotations for a settlement on the basis of self determination,

(4) Placement of observers to ensure the avoidance of genocide or reprisals against the Somali people living in the area.

The GSDR hopes that all friendly countries will exert the necessary influence toward finding a just negotiated settlement of the problem. End of text.

2. Questioned on the timing of the withdrawal, Sharif said the orders have been issued and it is now taking place. He added that Somali troops were not now engaging in combat. The Director General [Page 191] said the announcement had not been made public, but was being communicated first to the American, British, French, Italian and West German Ambassadors since their countries had urged withdrawal of Somali forces. He said other chiefs of friendly missions would be informed immediately, but he could not say when a public statement would be made. In the interim, he requested the information be treated as confidential.

3. Comment: We cannot believe the GSDR will delay the public announcement much longer. With all friendly mission chiefs informed, the word is bound to leak within hours if it has not done so already.3

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780106–0570. Confidential; Flash; Niact Immediate; Priority. Sent for information Niact Immediate to Addis Ababa, USUN, and Nairobi; sent Priority to Cairo, Jidda, Sana, Lagos, London, Paris, Rome, Bonn, Moscow, and USINT Havana; and to Khartoum and CINCPAC.
  2. In telegram 475 from Mogadiscio, March 9, 1344Z, the Embassy reported that the Ambassador had been summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (National Archives, RG59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780106–0374). In telegram 459 from Mogadiscio, March 9, 0020Z, Loughran reported that he had met with Siad at 2 a.m. local time. Siad asked him to inform President Carter that he accepted the proposals Carter made in his March 8 message. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P850070–1713)
  3. Christopher informed Dobrynin at midnight on March 9 of Siad’s decision to withdraw Somali forces. See Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. VI, Soviet Union, Document 88.