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Cablegate: Sheikh Aweys: Live From Asmara

VZCZCXYZ0010
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHAE #0269 1401355
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191355Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASMARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9674
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUMICEA/JICCENT MACDILL AFB FL
RUEPADJ/CJTF-HOA J2X CAMP LEMONIER DJ
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS ASMARA 000269

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/E
LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PINR SO ER
SUBJECT: SHEIKH AWEYS: LIVE FROM ASMARA

1. (SBU) Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys led a televised press
conference with Al-Jazeera in Asmara on May 15. In the
conference, Aweys condemned the members of the Asmara-based
Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) who traveled
to Djibouti for UN-brokered discussions with Somali's
Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

2. (SBU) The press conference featured Sheikh Aweys along
with five members of the ARS, all of whom objected to the May
10-15 ARS-TFG discussions in Djibouti. Accordingly, Aweys
accused the individuals participating in the Djibouti talks
as illegally representing the ARS and warned that whatever
documents are produced and/or signed in Djibouti will have no
bearing on the ARS as a whole. Aweys, touted by many of his
Somali colleagues and Eritrean officials as one of the most
liberal and forward-thinking members of the former Council of
Islamic Courts, used the press conference to publicly demand
full Ethiopian withdrawal from Somalia before multilateral
discussions could take place.

3. (SBU) COMMENT: The press conference, hosted at a hotel in
Asmara, also received favorable coverage by Eri-TV,
Eritrean's primary broadcast network. Aweys' vehemence
against negotiation with the TFG indicates the widening rift
between the pro- and anti-discussion factions of the
Asmara-based Somali exile community, and possibly the end of
the ARS multi-factional alliance of convenience that was
clearly shaky since its inception in Septemeber 2007. End
Comment.
MCMULLEN

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