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Cablegate: Ars Hard-Liners Skeptical of Ethiopian Withdrawal

VZCZCXRO6266
RR RUEHDE RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHAE #0593 3501115
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 151115Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASMARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0065
INFO RUCNSOM/SOMALIA COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUMICEA/JICCENT MACDILL AFB FL
RUEPADJ/CJTF-HOA J2X CAMP LEMONIER DJ
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHRMDAB/COMUSNAVCENT

UNCLAS ASMARA 000593

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/E
LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PINS SO ER
SUBJECT: ARS HARD-LINERS SKEPTICAL OF ETHIOPIAN WITHDRAWAL
PLANS

1. (SBU) In a series of two December 9 press releases, The
Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS) hard-liners
in Asmara bitterly criticized the Djibouti Agreement and
Ethiopian plans to withdraw from Somalia. The ARS dissidents
voiced doubt concerning Ethiopian withdrawal intentions and
labeled the act as an attempt to justify future occupation.
The ARS letter is perfectly timed with a December 10 article
in the Eritrean Profile, the government-owned propoganda
newspaper, entitled "Ethiopia's Latest Deceptive Ploy:
Withdrawing From Somalia." The arguments used in both the
ARS press releases and the newspaper article (written by a
die-hard Eritrean diaspora member) are near mirror images.
The article and the press releases both describe the Djibouti
Agreement as a "farce." They also both interchangeably label
Ethiopia's presence as a "proxy invasion" designed to
destabilize the Horn.

2. (SBU) COMMENT: It is not clear who is driving the ARS
hard-line agenda. Though the consensus among Somali contacts
is that Sheikh Aweys sets the pace, there is clearly strong
GSE influence in the ARS hard-line rhetoric. End Comment.
MCMULLEN

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