92. Summary of Conclusions of a Mini-Special Coordination Committee Meeting1


  • Horn of Africa


  • State

    • William Harrop, Deputy Asst. Secretary for Africa
    • Gordon Beyer, Country Director
  • Defense

    • Robert Murray, Deputy Asst. Sec. NE/Afr/SoAffairs
  • JCS

    • General Richard Lawson, Dir/Plans & Policy/J–5
    • Colonel Edward Redican, Pol. Military Planner, J–5
  • CIA

    • Robert Bowie, Deputy Director, Nat’l Affairs Assessment
    • William Parmenter, NIO/Africa
  • White House

    • David Aaron, Chairman
  • NSC

    • Paul B. Henze, Notetaker


The first part of the meeting was devoted to discussion of the present state of affairs in the Horn. It was noted that the consequences of recent Ethiopian gains in Eritrea are not yet clear, but CIA estimates that even without shifting many troops from Eritrea, Mengistu may soon dispose of enough military strength (utilizing large numbers of men who are now completing training) to step up the fight against Ogaden guerrillas. Somali-supported guerrilla forces have expanded. Cubans remain concentrated in the northern Ogaden. Siad faces dissidence at home but his position is not immediately threatened. Discussion of the Soviet posture toward Somalia led to the conclusion that both Siad and the Soviets might see advantages in exploring some degree of rapprochement but that any sharp change of course in the immediate future seemed unlikely. To the Chairman’s question whether U.S. policy required readjustment, the group tended toward the consensus that while radical new initiatives were not justified, efforts to generate movement in certain areas were worth trying. Specifically, during the second half of the meeting, the following steps were decided upon: (S)

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Somalia: No aide memoire will be given to the Somali ambassador for the time being since the Somalis are already well aware of our basic positions and policy inhibitions, but to avoid a situation where Siad may conclude that we have decided to let him drift, we will (S)

• consult with the British about generating some movement toward Kenya-Somali rapprochement, introducing a draft treaty text for the two sides to consider if that seems a practical way of breaking the current deadlocked condition of relations between the two countries. (S)

• instruct our Jeddah Embassy to ask the Saudis whether they are seriously interested in financing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in aid projects in Somalia (i.e. the “Trilateral”/Leggett proposal).2 (S)

• explore the possibility of a small IMET grant for Somali military officers to study non-combat specialties, perhaps connected with the trilateral effort. (S)

• [1½ lines not declassified]

• authorize visits by our ambassadors in Nairobi and Mogadiscio to each other’s countries. (S)

Ethiopia: We will continue efforts to avoid falling into a situation where either the Hickenlooper or Gonzales amendments3 come into effect and preclude continuation of our aid program. In this connection, the State Department will develop a formula for U.S. espousal of claims. Ambassador Chapin will be encouraged to resume dialogue with the Ethiopians on this issue as soon as practical. Food aid for Ethiopia will be continued. Debt-forgiveness for Ethiopia will not be considered until political circumstances are more favorable. The Department of State will clear all future demarches on human rights in Ethiopia with the NSC before any instructions are sent to the field. (S)

Sudan: In view of Sudanese worry about the security of its borders, we will explore ways of reassuring Sudan of our support, perhaps in the form of additional aid for Eritrean refugees or provision of some specific form of security assistance or advice. (S)

North Yemen: The Department of Defense will see what can be done to be as responsive as possible to the North Yemenis’ desire that we expedite our assistance to them. (S)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files 1977–1981, Box 118, SCC 034 12/11/78, Mini-SCC, Horn of Africa. Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room.
  2. The instructions were sent in telegram 319904 to Jidda, December 20. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780526–0145)
  3. See footnote 3, Document 82.