Cablegate: Somalia - December 16 International Contact Group Meeting

DE RUEHNR #2780/01 3501602
P 151602Z DEC 08




USUN PLEASE PASS A/S Frazer and AF/E-Garey

E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: SOMALIA - December 16 International Contact Group Meeting
in New York

REF: A) Nairobi 2776 B) Nairobi 2755

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. The December 16 International Contact Group
(ICG) session comes at a critical time in the history of the TFG. A
protracted fight between President Yusuf and Prime Minister Hussein
took a further nosedive December 14, when Yusuf attempted to dismiss
the Prime Minister. The Parliament December 15 in turn rebuffed the
President with an overwhelming vote of confidence for the Prime
Minister, leaving the ball in the resourceful Yusuf's court. There
is a growing consensus that an exit strategy must be devised for
Yusuf, who has become an obstacle to the Djibouti Process. ARS
Chairman Sheikh Sharif and more than twenty of his confederates put
their thumb in the eye of ARS-Asmara and al-Shabaab by moving to
Mogadishu --for good, they say-- in order to continue the work of
the joint High-Level and Joint Security Committees. The new unity
government faces many obstacles, including steady al-Shabaab gains
on the ground, too much debate about legalisms and parliamentary
etiquette, and not enough about making it presence felt in Somalia.
The international community wants a Somalia success story, but there
is clear fatigue after years of failed reconciliation efforts. The
SRSG has injected much energy into the process, but does not always
communicate well with international community colleagues, and has
not offered a roadmap for the way forward. End summary.

Yusuf - Nur Adde Feud

2. (SBU) The December 16 ICG session occurs against the background
of continued rivalry between TFG President Yusuf and Prime Minister
Hussein that led Yusuf, on December 14, to issue a decree removing
Hussein. On December 15, Yusuf's efforts ran aground in Parliament,
which gave the Prime Minister a 143 - 20 vote of confidence (Ref A).
The ball is now in Yusuf's court, and rumors have it that he may
retire to Garowe to lick his wounds and contemplate revenge.

3. (SBU) The Yusuf - Hussein feud has distracted the TFG from
efforts to advance the Djibouti Process. While the Alliance for the
Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) Chairman has brought a group of
twenty ARS members permanently to Mogadishu in an effort to advance
the work of the High-Level and Joint Security Committees, the TFG
has watched its already negligible presence in Somalia dwindle
further. At present, it holds sway over small pockets of Mogadishu
and the parliamentary seat of Baidoa only.

Exit Strategy for Yusuf

4. (SBU) Yusuf is an obstacle to the Djibouti Process, and debates
about whether he should be in or out of the tent no longer seem
relevant. With the most recent episode with the Prime Minister,
there is consensus among Somalis and the international community
that Yusuf has become an impediment to any progress. SRSG
Ould-Abdallah, who several weeks ago appeared to be seeking an exit
strategy for Yusuf, as of December 5 appeared to be making efforts
to keep the President in the process. Yusuf's effort to oust
Hussein appears to have exasperated the SRSG, who appears prepared
again to consider an exit strategy for the President.

5. (SBU) Observers continue to caution that the President must be
given an honorable exit. They point out that many of his Darod clan
parliamentarians sat out the December 15 vote in Baidoa; unable to
join forces with the President, yet unable to cast a vote against
him. Any ouster that would too openly humiliate Yusuf would spark
resistance from his clan.

6. (SBU) Although members of Yusuf's inner circle, and key members
of his clan talk regularly of an endgame for Yusuf, they have to
date been unwilling to confront him. It would be useful to have the
ICG consider an exit strategy for Yusuf under the ICG agenda's
Overview of Somalia section.

Creating a Unity Government

7. (SBU) The November 25 Djibouti communique called for the
creation of a working group that was to have reported within thirty
days on the communique's provisions for establishing a unity
government. To Embassy's knowledge, that committee has not been
created. Many Somalis believe that the recommendations of the High
Level Committee (HLC) are be implemented as outlined in the November

NAIROBI 00002780 002 OF 002

25 communique. (Note: The HLC recommendations were designed as a
basis for debate and eventual adoption within parliament and to
date, they have not been formally discussed in that forum). The
recommendations include doubling the Parliament, extending the
Transitional Federal Institution's mandate for two years, and
considering the election of a new TFG leadership. Doubling the
Parliament to accommodate the ARS is unpopular even among those MPs
who support a unity government. The ARS appear to have signaled
flexibility on the issue, but negotiations do not appear to be

Ceasefire: No Movement

8. (SBU) The TFG - ARS October 26 cessation of armed confrontation
agreement has been rendered largely irrelevant by advances that
al-Shabaab and other armed groups continue to make (reftel B
sketches the current disposition of forces). Al-Shabaab's gains
have left the ARS confined to parts of Hiraan, Gedo, and Galgaduud
regions, while those TFG forces who have not defected are to be
found in close proximity to ENDF forces in Mogadishu and Baidoa.

ARS In Mogadishu
9. (SBU) ARS Chairman Sheikh Sharif sees the Government of
Ethiopia's departure as key to an enhancement of his credibility.
He, and members of the TFG, are lobbying for international community
help in creating and financing a unity government security force, in
order to give them a footprint. The Joint Security Committee
convened in Kenya from November 20-24 to flesh out the modalities
for a cessation of armed confrontation and developed a comprehensive
proposal for this joint security force. This force would have a
unified command and integrate ARS loyalists into the Somali Police
Force and prepare for an eventual national armed forces under the
terms of a comprehensive peace agreement. We are working with the
AU and other key actors to develop a flexible financial management
mechanism for non-traditional and international donor contributions
to pay these unified forces.

10. (SBU) Sheikh Sharif's December 11 arrival in Mogadishu, with
more than twenty members of the ARS who relocated from Djibouti in
tow, shows that he is willing to put his thumb in the eye of
ARS-Asmara. Sharif's Mogadishu presence has drawn a response, from
statements to the press by ARS-A Chairman Hassan Dahir Aweys, to
ARS-A attacks in Mogadishu they day after the ARS-D delegation's
arrival. The residents of Somalia's capital have offered an
outpouring of support. Still, the unity government's armed forces
pose no threat to al-Shabaab's and others in Somalia, and absent a
willingness by the international community to train and finance
them, they

The International Community

11. (SBU) Among the international community, there is an emerging
consensus that Yusuf is an obstacle, but there has been no effort to
forge a unified strategy. The December 17 ICG might offer an
opportunity to discuss that, and chart a way forward for the
Djibouti Process. The SRSG has contributed much energy to the
process. He is widely respected by Somalis across the spectrum, and
has been at pains to repair his relations with the Government of
Ethiopia. SRSG Ould-Abdallah has had less time to convey his vision
of the way forward to the international community; an oversight that
can be addressed during the ICG.

© Scoop Media

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