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Cablegate: Somalia: Pm Meles Publicly Acknowledges "Defensive

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OO RUEHROV
DE RUEHDS #3390/01 3601602
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O 261602Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3858
INFO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
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RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
IGAD COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ADDIS ABABA 003390

SIPDIS
C O R R E C T E D C O P Y - ADDING IGAD COLLECTIVE AS ADDRESSEE

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF AND AF/E
LONDON, PARIS, ROME FOR AFRICA WATCHER
CJTF-HOA FOR POLAD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PINS MOPS KISL ET SO
SUBJECT: SOMALIA: PM MELES PUBLICLY ACKNOWLEDGES "DEFENSIVE
MEASURES" IN SOMALIA

REF: A. ADDIS ABABA 3289
B. ADDIS ABABA 3240
C. ADDIS ABABA 3211
D. ADDIS ABABA 3115

1. (U) SUMMARY. In a national address broadcast live on
December 24, Prime Minister Meles acknowledged that Ethiopia
had launched military operations within Somalia, describing
them as "defensive measures" taken against "terrorist forces"
who had infiltrated insurgents into Ethiopia. Citing the
TFG's decision to exercise jurisdiction over its airspace and
territorial waters Meles said Ethiopia's intervention would
be limited in duration, and underscored that Ethiopia had no
intention of establishing a government in Somalia. He
affirmed support for international efforts to promote
dialogue between the TFG and the UIC, and stated that
Ethiopia had "no enmity" against the Somali people. END
SUMMARY.

--------------------------------------------- ----------
"DEFENSIVE MEASURES" WILL BE "LIMITED AND PROPORTIONAL"
--------------------------------------------- ----------

2. (U) On the evening of December 24, Prime Minister Meles
Zenawi, in a live broadcast via state-run media, announced
that the Ethiopian military was taking "defensive measures"
within Somalia, against "terrorists" associated with the
Union of Islamic Courts (UIC). He explained that the move
was in response to "large-scale offensives" by the UIC on
December 20, aimed at controlling Somalia's Transitional
Federal Government (TFG), Puntland, and Somaliland, as well
as destabilizing Ethiopia and other countries in the Horn of
Africa. Meles asserted that the UIC had infiltrated large
numbers of insurgents into Ethiopia, and had launched attacks
while peace envoys were traveling between Baidoa and
Mogadishu.

3. (U) In his public address, Meles underscored the limited
duration and scope of Ethiopian military intervention,
stating that the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF)
would immediately withdraw upon accomplishment of their
mission, which was limited to defending Ethiopia. "Defensive
measures" would be "limited and proportional to the attacks
launched against us and the dangers facing our country, as
well as in line with international laws," he said. Citing
previous efforts at fostering dialogue between the TFG and
the UIC, Meles affirmed support for efforts by the UNSC,
African Union, and the European Union to enable the TFG and
UIC to form a coalition government. He stated that Ethiopia
had "no enmity" with the people of Somalia, nor with the
majority of members and supporters of the UIC. State-run
media highlighted the PM's statement that Ethiopia had no
intention of establishing a government in Somalia, but only
intended to counter the threat to Ethiopia's national
security posed by "jihadist and terrorist groups."

4. (U) In a separate statement issued on December 24 by the
MFA and attributed to the defense ministry, the GOE announced
that the ENDF were taking "defensive measures against
terrorist forces" in Somalia, who had "attempted to
infiltrate into Ethiopia to launch attacks." The statement
acknowledged ENDF attacks "in various parts of Somalia,"
including Buurhakaba (between Baidoa and Mogadishu),
Beledweyne, Dinsoor (southwest of Baidoa), and Bandiiradley.

--------------------------------------------- --
ETHIOPIA CITES TFG'S JURISDICTION OVER AIRSPACE
--------------------------------------------- --

5. (U) While not explicitly confirming press reports of
military operations against airports in Mogadishu, the
Ethiopian MFA issued a statement on December 26 highlighting
a December 22 decision by the TFG Council of Ministers (as
well as a presidential proclamation by TFG President Yusuf)
to ban unauthorized use of Somali airspace and terroritorial
waters, and that grants "any sympathetic and friendly nation
or country" permission to assist the TFG in intercepting or
stopping "any aircraft, ship or vessel suspected to be
carrying or possessing arms or other ammunitions or any other
goods or equipment unlawfully bound into the Somali republic
for terrorists or any other organization."

ADDIS ABAB 00003390 002 OF 002

6. (U) Ethiopian state-run media also highlighted a December
24 press conference by TFG PermRep to the AU Ambassador
Abdikarin Farah, in which Farah reportedly stated that
measures taken by Ethiopia against the UIC were justified, as
the UIC was receiving support from terrorists from
Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Sudan.

7. (U) The GOE's public announcements came one month after
Prime Minister Meles publicly addressed parliament to outline
the national security threat posed by the UIC and by its
support for Ethiopian insurgents (ref D), resulting in
three-fourths of parliamentarians approving "any measures
necessary" against the UIC

8. (SBU) COMMENT: The GOE's statements are its first public
acknowledgement of combat operations within Somalia. Meles'
public assertion that Ethiopia's intervention would be
limited in duration and scope, is consistent with earlier
statements that Ethiopia's military strategy would be to
"downsize" UIC forces to provide "breathing space" for TFG
negotiators (ref B). END COMMENT.
WILGUS

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