Cablegate: Somalia - First Steps to Implementing the Djibouti

DE RUEHDJ #0665/01 2301508
R 171508Z AUG 08





E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Somalia - First Steps to Implementing the Djibouti

REF: Nairobi 1959 and previous

1. (SBU) Summary. On August 16, UN Special Representative of the
Secretary General for Somalia Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah (SRSG) opened
the first meeting of the High Level Committee and the Joint Security
Committee to implement the Djibouti Agreement. At least one of the
objectives of the meeting is to resuscitate the forward momentum
halted by internal crises threatening to destabilize both the
Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Alliance for the
Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS). The environment is positive, the
delegates focused, and the mood is collaborative, and all have
stated their commitment to transform this into concrete action.
Although the TFG delayed work as it balanced competing interests of
President Yusuf and Prime Minister Hussein in the composition of its
delegation, it has now agreed on its members. Prior to the
scheduled conclusion of these discussions on August 19, each
committee is to define its terms of reference and plan of work. Key
figures from both parties continue to arrive in Djibouti, yet the
committees are making progress. End Summary.

Launching the Djibouti Agreement

2. (SBU) On August 16, in the presence of the Djibouti-based
diplomatic corps and international representatives from Nairobi, New
York, and Cairo, the SRSG opened the third round of talks between
the TFG and the ARS. The objective of this meeting is to begin
concrete steps to implement the June 9 Djibouti agreement. While
the last round of discussions in Djibouti was slated for 10 days,
this round was initially designed to last only for two. The dates
were chosen just two weeks prior, as internal crises with the two
parties were threatening to undermine the Djibouti agreement. With
the delay in the formal signing, spoilers on both sides had begun to
exploit the time lag by fueling existing internal divisions. The
SRSG called the meeting to get the agreement back on track.

3. (SBU) A key outcome of this meeting is standing up the High
Level Committee and the Joint Security Committee, as outlined in the
agreement. Although both the TFG and the ARS submitted their
delegate lists weeks ago, this was the first time the committees
met. While most of the ARS delegates were already in Djibouti where
the majority of the Central Committee is now based, the bulk of the
TFG delegated arrived from Mogadishu and Baidoa August 15 in a
chartered aircraft. On August 16, there was an official opening
ceremony. The TFG Head of Delegation is Ahmed Abdisalam Aden,
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Information, Youth Affairs,
and Sports. The ARS was represented by Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden,
Chairman of the Central Committee and Abdurahman Abdishakur Warsame,
Deputy Chairman of the Central Committee. Prime Minister Hassan
Hussein is expected to arrive in Djibouti from Addis Ababa on August
17, and ARS Chairman Sharif Sheikh Ahmed is scheduled to arrive on
August 18 from Khartoum.

4. (SBU) The August 16 opening ceremony set an extremely positive
tone for the discussions. After a reading from the Koran, a
traditional Somali poet sung, "Where there is no peace, there is no
life," and encouraged all present to think about peace, and only
peace." Both Abdisalam and Warsame offered spirited opening
remarks, emphasizing the importance of reconciliation, collaboration
and a promise to make the necessary effort toward peace. One of the
most important interventions was made by Hamoud Abdi Soultan,
Djibouti's Minister of Muslim Affairs, who encouraged all actors to
take personal responsibility to create the conditions for the
international community to help by developing multiple solutions
to address Somalia's problems. In Somali, Soultan exhorted all of
the delegates to lay aside personal, political, and clan interests
for the good of the nation and its people. He emphasized the
importance of seizing this opportunity to establish a clear vision
for the Somali people, before it is too late.

5. (SBU) In addition to the TFG and ARS representatives present,
there was a significant contingent of Djibouti-based business
leaders. This group included one of the Adani brothers, one of the
economic powerhouses in Mogadishu. Long-time Somalia experts who
were present at the ceremony told us, "This time, it feels different
from prior peace conferences." Delegates from both the TFG and the
ARS freely embraced and talked -- a stark difference from the last
round of discussions where both sides refused to formally meet
face-to-face. The environment was reminiscent of the jubilant
atmosphere that marked the June 9 ceremony where the Djibouti
Agreement was initialed. Another Somalia expert told us that while
these conditions are necessary for a breakthrough, they are not
sufficient. It will be necessary for all the stakeholders to
translate this goodwill into concrete actions, bringing along key
Somalis who are not present, he said.

DJIBOUTI 00000665 002 OF 003

6. (SBU) Both committees briefly met the afternoon of August 16 and
the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) distributed draft terms
of reference. The delegations discussed procedures to reach to
finalize the terms and to agree upon a plan of work, including the
time and place for their next meeting. They agreed to work
independently and re-convene on August 17.

High Level Committee

7. (SBU) SRSG Ould-Abdallah is the interim chair of the High Level
Committee (HLC), as both sides try to reach agreement on who will
facilitate their work in the future. While the initial meeting of
the HLC was positive, the delegates were not prepared to address any
substantive issues. On August 16, the TFG had not reached a final
agreement on the composition of its members. On July 18, the Prime
Minister submitted a list of nine persons agreed to by President
Yusuf. During the conflict between Yusuf and Hussein, the PM
submitted a list of an additional six representatives to the SRSG.
Yusuf was reportedly angry and refused to accept any of these new
members while the PM also dug in his heels. Of the original list of
nine, seven representatives are present in Djibouti, as are four of
the six additional persons proposed by the PM. President Yusuf said
that he will not support the process if the original list is not
accepted. The TFG reportedly met informally through the night of
August 16. The High Level Committee was to convene at 0900 on
August 17, but the TFG was still working out its internal issues.

8. (SBU) At approximately 1200 on August 17, the TFG declared it
had reached agreement -- its delegation would be composed only of
the nine initial persons on its first list. The others would
participate in the meetings, but would not be eligible to take any
official votes or decisions. The High Level Committee reconvened
and Abdisalam and Warsame both made statements about their readiness
for work. The SRSG welcomed Abdirizak Ashkir Abdi, TFG Minister of
Reconciliation, Regional Development and Federal Affairs and Nur
Iidow Beyle, Minister of Public Works and Reconstruction, who were
not present at the first meeting of the committee. (Note: Yusuf
reportedly encouraged both of these ministers to resign, but they
remain in office. End note.) A civil society representative
discussed the importance of focusing on humanitarian access and
concrete solutions. After approximately 20 minutes, the SRSG
adjourned the meeting. The High Level committee was expected to
reconvene later in the day. The TFG delegates said they have worked
out their internal difficulties and were ready to move forward. ARS
representatives separately told us that they helped mediate the
conflict within the TFG.

Joint Security Committee

9. (SBU) The Joint Security Committee (JSC) is co-chaired by
Colonel William Bryan Norman (United States), Director of Military
Planning in the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Major
General Juvenal Niyoyunguruza (Burundi), AMISOM Deputy Force
Commander. While there was a significant battle over the TFG
membership of the HLC, there was no such conflict for the JSC. TFG
delegates to the JSC include General Abdi Awale Qeybdid,
Commissioner of Police, and General Mohamed Warsame Farah "Darwish",
Director of the National Security Service, both of whom are actively
participating in the committee work. After their inaugural meeting
on August 16, the TFG and ARS representatives met separately to
prepare amendments to their terms of reference, work plans, and
platforms. On August 17, they began meeting early in the morning to
discuss their ideas and establish sub-committees. At 1230, the
delegates asked the co-chairs for the opportunity to draft one
common document and final terms of reference, which they would
present to the chairs and international representatives at 1100 on
August 18.

10. (SBU) While the international representatives observed the work
of the JSC, the participants plainly stated that they preferred to
work independently. One of the ARS leaders referred to his fellow
JSC members as "his brothers" with years of experience on the
ground, who know the country and its dynamics better than anyone
from the outside. Darwish said they appreciated the international
facilitation, but the JSC can "harmonize their views" on its own and
later present them to the larger group. With their pragmatic
approach, the JSC appears to be making progress. The ARS and TFG
delegates told us that they appreciate the opportunity to work
together and requested that the international community be ready to
provide technical support for the common security arrangements they
agree to implement. The JSC has taken its first steps to developing
a shared perspective on improving security. The SRSG stated that to
his surprise, the JSC is moving forward faster than the he had

DJIBOUTI 00000665 003 OF 003

imagined, and is "one step ahead of us." He expressed hope that the
HLC would start making similar progress on political issues.


© Scoop Media

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