94. Memorandum From Paul B. Henze of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Horn Working Group Meeting—1 May 1979

I held a two-hour meeting of the SCC Horn of Africa Working Group today with broad attendance from State, DOD, CIA, and other NSC staff members. OMB was invited but sent no one. Only one topic emerged which requires SCC consideration soon: the role of Djibouti in planning for expanded U.S. naval presence in the NW Indian Ocean and this is scheduled to be taken up at the SCC on Middle East Strategy on 9 May.2 The consensus of our meeting was that it is desirable to utilize facilities at Djibouti to support naval and related air activities [Page 261] but not to provide Djibouti with military aid as a quid-pro-quo and to keep the French out front as the power primarily responsible for Djibouti’s security. If we use Djibouti we have no urgent requirement for use of Somali facilities. The group agreed that for the immediate future we should avoid the kind of political entanglement with Siad that any substantial or continuing use of Somali facilities would entail. Using Mombasa, which incurs no political liability, along with Djibouti provides the support we need. (S)

The meeting reviewed our relationship and internal conditions in each Horn country. In view of the President’s recent decisions on more aid for Sudan3 we agreed that no new actions are necessary in the immediate future. State is trying to reallocate additional economic aid from FY79 funds for Egypt which have not been expended. Ambassador Bergus and Sudanese FM Permanent Secretary Francis Deng will be in Washington next week and we can take a further look, after talks with them, at how things are going in Khartoum. The consensus of the intelligence community was that political trends in Sudan, while not as positive as we would like, do not give cause for immediate alarm. (C)

Kenya is assessed as being in excellent condition. Kenyan-Somali tensions have eased slightly. Kenya is being cooperative about Uganda. The Sudanese are handling well the complications the fall of Idi Amin causes for them. (U)

State argued that the policy we have followed re Somalia for more than a year has worked well and does not need changing. There was some disagreement about the level of activity in the Ogaden with the intelligence representatives maintaining that Siad’s efforts to distance himself from the guerrillas are largely cosmetic and reveal no decision to stop support.

Ambassador Chapin noted that the Ethiopian government is now permitting diplomatic travel, in groups, to Harar and Diredawa and appears to have made real gains in reasserting control in Bale and Sidama, where Mengistu has recently spent three weeks. But Ethiopians are still convinced of Siad’s desire to maintain Ogaden insurgency and will react very negatively to any indications of increased U.S. willingness to consider military support for Somalia. (C)

Siad’s internal power base seems to be gradually deteriorating. Ambassador Addou has recently briefed State on upcoming constitutional changes which would—he maintains—permit a return to democracy. [Page 262] The consensus of the meeting was that we should let these run their course and react favorably when we are convinced that they are real. I was surprised that none of the military representatives at this meeting argued for naval facilities in Somalia or for a closer U.S. military relationship. This enthusiasm seems to be well under control in the Pentagon. (S)

There was extensive discussion of Ethiopia. Ambassador Chapin offered several examples of improved internal security. He sees no serious political opposition to Mengistu at the center. He expects the Ethiopians to continue to move ahead in Eritrea. He sees the Soviets consolidating their position in Ethiopia, increasingly inclined to use the Ethiopians as the “Cubans of Africa” and willing to pay a substantial economic price. He sees little prospect for improvement in our relations and fears further deterioration. State and he are working out plans for a further, last-ditch effort to save the aid program by espousal of nationalization claims and resolution of FMS payment issues. There will be further efforts on these over the next few weeks/months. (C)

The meeting was not the appropriate format for discussing possible covert action initiatives with Chapin. I will raise these at lunch on 4 May, but I expect him to be negative. I am sending you a separate memorandum on a conversation I had with State area director Gordon Beyer following this meeting which you should read in conjunction with this memorandum.4 (S)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council, Institutional Files 1977–1981, Box 40, PRM–21. Secret. Sent for information. A stamped notation reads: “ZB has seen.” A handwritten notation in the upper right corner reads, “DA has seen.” Copies were sent to Funk, Sick, Quandt, Kimmit, Ermath and Odom.
  2. Brzezinski underlined “SCC on Middle East Strategy on 9 May” and wrote in the right margin, “RG—put into the SCC/ME folder for me. ZB.” The meeting was not held until May 11. See Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. XVIII, Middle East Region; Arabian Peninsula, Documents 2123.
  3. In a statement before the Subcommittee on Africa of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on February 14, Moose announced the administration’s request for $5 million for Foreign Military Sales for Sudan. For the full text of his statement, see Department of State Bulletin, April 1979, pp. 9–11.
  4. Not found.