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Cablegate: Dpko Warns of Rising Tensions Along

VZCZCXRO2848
PP RUEHBZ
DE RUCNDT #0431/01 1521509
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 011509Z JUN 07
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1993
INFO RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA PRIORITY 1334
RUEHAE/AMEMBASSY ASMARA PRIORITY 1105
RUEHCP/AMEMBASSY COPENHAGEN PRIORITY 0208
RUEHDJ/AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI PRIORITY 0085
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI PRIORITY 0611
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO PRIORITY 0737
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 USUN NEW YORK 000431

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ER ET PGOV PREL UNSC KPKO
SUBJECT: DPKO WARNS OF RISING TENSIONS ALONG
ETHIOPIA/ERITREA BORDER

REF: A. USUN NEW YORK 00359

B. SECSTATE 72880

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. At May 29 United Nations Security Council
(UNSC) consultations, Department of Peacekeeping Operations
Assistant-Secretary-General Annabi described rising tensions
between Ethiopia and Eritrea and dangerous restrictions on
the movement of the UN Mission there (UNMEE). Annabi warned
that a minor incident could trigger military engagement in
the area, and he advised Members to appeal to the parties to
respect the cease-fire and to seek normalization of their
bilateral relations. Most Members urged appointment of a
Special Representative (SRSG) to address the ongoing crisis,
and after the meeting, the Norwegian delegation proposed
sending a letter on behalf of the Group of Friends of UNMEE
to the SYG urging the same. Annabi recommended that Members
invite the Permanent Representatives (PRs) from both Ethiopia
and Eritrea to meet with the UNSC. Annabi did not see a
plus-up of UNMEE as feasible in the near future, given the
UNSC's recent history of downsizing as a way of expressing
displeasure with the parties. Annabi did not make any
predictions about what might happen when the Eritrea-Ethiopia
Boundary Commission (EEBC) leaves the scene in November. END
SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Since DPKO's last briefing on May 8 (ref A),
Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO)
Assistant-Secretary-General (A/SYG) Annabi reported there had
been further security incidents, namely expanding Eritrean
control over greater areas of the Temporary Security Zone
(TSZ) and reinforcement of Eritrean military positions,
including reconnaissance missions near the Humera bridge in
Sector West and other TSZ locations. Annabi also noted that
the Eritrean Minister of Defense had visited Adi Quala in the
TSZ on May 18. Annabi was concerned that the 7000 recently

SIPDIS
relocated (and potentially armed) IDPs in Om Hajer in Sector
West could be used if military activity broke out. Annabi
also noted Eritrean active troop rotations in Sector Center
and Sub-Sector East and deployment of a total of 1900
Eritrean military personnel in Sector Center as additional
causes for concern. According to Annabi, Ethiopia was
reinforcing military positions near the southern boundary of
the TSZ, despite its arguments to the contrary, with some 45
tanks moved toward Humera in Sector West. Annabi reported
that Eritrean restrictions on UNMEE's freedom of movement
remained in place, with new limits imposed in Sector Center
near Mendefera, where a UN patrol was detained at gunpoint by
Eritrean police on May 18. Annabi also told the Council of
warning shots fired by Eritrean Defense Forces and militias
when stopped at UNMEE checkpoints in the TSZ.

3. (SBU) Despite UNMEE's reduced monitoring capacity, Annabi
asserted that its presence still served as a deterrent to
resumed hostilities between the sides. A further reduced
configuration, he argued, would jeopardize a "meaningful
observation mission" (NOTE: The question of UNMEE
right-sizing will present itself to the UNSC when UNMEE's
mandate is reviewed in July. END NOTE). Annabi worried that
military preparations by both sides, compounded by the
uncertainty surrounding the EEBC's November deadline and
hostile public statements by both Governments against each
other, risked turning a minor incident into a military
confrontation. Annabi highlighted May 28 remarks by
Ethiopian President Girma Wolde Giorgis denouncing Eritrea
for supporting terrorist elements bent on destabilizing
Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. Annabi also mentioned May
24 remarks by Eritrean President Isaias, in which he called
the TSZ "meaningless" and warned that any negative
consequences that might result from the current impasse would
be due to " a foreign power."

4. (SBU) Annabi did not make any predictions about what might
happen when the EEBC left the scene in November, saying only
that demarcation by coordinates could have "unfortunate
consequences" for one of the sides. Annabi stressed that
UNMEE and the SYG were committed to overcoming the stalemate
and that the SYG was considering appointment of a new SRSG as
part of this process. Acknowledging Members' eagerness to
move on such an appointment, Annabi warned that to designate
a new SRSG too precipitously in the wake of Eritrea's
effective dismissal of former SRSG candidates would send the
message that the parties could dictate the terms of UN
appointments based on their own political preferences (NOTE:

USUN NEW Y 00000431 002 OF 002


After the meeting, the Norwegian delegation proposed sending
a letter on behalf of the Group of Friends of UNMEE to the
SYG urging the expeditious appointment of an SRSG. END
NOTE). Annabi admitted there was no magic formula to solving
the impasse but recommended that Members continue their
efforts, both collective and individual, to move Ethiopia and
Eritrea away from the standoff by appealing to them to
respect the cease-fire, defuse the situation and help
normalize their bilateral relations. Annabi also suggested
that Members consider calling in PRs of both countries to
underscore the Council's concerns.

5. (SBU) Most Members - including Italy, the UK, Indonesia,
Qatar, Congo, Russia, Ghana, South Africa, Panama and China -
strongly supported the expeditious appointment of an SRSG as
a way to promote a political process between Ethiopia and
Eritrea. Members agreed that adequate leverage with the
parties had not yet been found to bring the sides to
compromise, and UK PR Jones Parry singled out coordination
with the USG as critical, given the role we had taken in the
past to try to mend fences between the sides. Members
worried about the destabilizing effects of the crisis on
Somalia. Russian Deputy PR Dolgov suggested a UNSC stop
during its Mission to Africa in June as a way to address this
"explosive" situation, and the South African representative
offered the upcoming African Union Summit in Accra as another
forum to pressure the parties.

6. (SBU) Drawing from ref B points, Ambassador Sanders called
for the reinvigoration of the Military Coordination
Commission (MCC) as a confidence-building measure between the
sides. Annabi responded that DPKO Under-SYG Guehenno had
raised this issue with Ethiopian FM Seyoum during his New
York visit, and that Seyoum had promised to take action so
that MCC activity could resume. Annabi assured that the UN
would maintain pressure to ensure this happened,
KHALILZAD

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