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Cablegate: Discontent in the Djiboutian Military

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L DJIBOUTI 000299

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/02/2014
TAGS: MARR MOPS PGOV PREL PM DJ
SUBJECT: DISCONTENT IN THE DJIBOUTIAN MILITARY


Classified By: POLOFF CHASE BEAMER FOR REASONS 1.5 B

SUMMARY
--------

1. (C) USLO Chief has learned that on Saturday, February 28
large groups of soldiers in the interior districts of Dikhil,
Tadjoura, and Obock refused to accept their monthly salaries.
Four high ranking Djiboutian military officers have since
been dispatched to the districts to engage the disgruntled
troops and address their complaints. Hypotheses are
circulating as to the origins of the problem but each is in
some way tied to the military pay scale. Senior officials in
Djibouti city downplay the significance of the action
claiming that all differences will be resolved shortly.

HYPOTHESES
----------

2. (C) There are effectively two types of soldiers in the
Djiboutian Military: those enlisted through standard
procedure and those mobilized specifically for the civil war
in the early 1990's. Troops mobilized for the civil war have
remained on military payrolls at a reduced pay rate since the
end of the country's civil war. In addition, in 2002
President Guelleh created a "Republican Guard" force in
reaction to a failed "coup d'etat" led by former Police Chief
and Guelleh insider Yacin Yalah Galab. Guelleh was less than
thrilled by the military's response in defense of the
Presidency during the hours long insurgency. He established
a 300 member elite protection force composed in overwhelming
part of members of his sub-clan, the Issa Mammasan, and under
the direction (in practice if not in theory) of his National
Security Advisor Hassan Said Khaireh. The Republican Guard
is the best equipped and trained force in the country. It is
the only portion of the military to receive supplemental
"danger pay" and monthly food rations. The Republican Guards
were recently enlarged to 500 members following a much
publicized reduction of the Police Force to meet European
Union demobilization mandates. In January, the Republican
Guard celebrated its second anniversary on national
television with much fanfare and numerous promotions. Some
feel that the privilege of the Republican Guard has stirred
resentment among the rest of the Djiboutian military and
brought them to act. Sources say that Djiboutian Military
Chief of Staff General Fahti cut an approximately U.S. $30 a
month food stipend from the standing military's monthly
paycheck and that this, on top of the standing food ration
the Republican Guard receives, was too much for soldiers to
bear.

3. (C) A second and perhaps related but unconfirmed rumor in
Djibouti City portrays a small clique of four or five young
military officers as piqued at the slow rates of promotion in
recent years. This clique has organized troops in the
interior on this issue. Reportedly, the officers have widely
circulated a petition at the lower levels of the military
recruiting other officers for their protest. The widespread
and unified actions of soldiers in three different districts
would suggest some level of organization and coordination
beyond the capacity of junior non-commissioned officers and
soldiers.

COMMENT
-------

4. (C) While the details of this incident are still gray one
can ascertain from the absences of General Zakaria, Colonel
Bouh, LtColonel Abdoulrahman, and Commandant Osman from the
capital simultaneously that the Djiboutian leadership is
treating the matter seriously. Djibouti is under pressure
from International donors to demobilize the mission-less
military (Djibouti's territorial defense is guaranteed by
French forces) and trim bureaucratic fat. At the same time
Djibouti's economy remains weak and unemployment is chronic.
Add to these factors simmering resentment towards President
Guelleh's private tribal army and you likely are not far from
the root of these events. End comment.

RAGSDALE

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