Cablegate: Somalia - Scenesetter for Senator Feingold's December 18-20

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

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1. Your December 18-20 meetings with Somalia and Somaliland
politicians, the UN Secretary General's Special Representative as
well as NGO and private sector representatives come at a time when
some progress in the UN-led Djibouti Peace Process is being undercut
by continued feuding among the Transitional Federal Government's
(TFG) leadership and threatened by al-Shabaab's steady advances on
the ground. The United States is playing a leading role to promote
unity and peace. We are working closely with the Intergovernmental
Authority on Development (IGAD) and the International Contact Group
(ICG) on Somalia to ensure that that the international community's
efforts are optimized.

Recent TFG Developments

2. The long-running feud among the TFG's top leadership took a
dramatic turn for the worse on December 14, when TFG President
Abdullahi Yusuf issued a decree dismissing Prime Minister Nur Hassan
Hussein "Nur Adde." The decree cited Hussein's failure to submit a
new federal constitution in the year since he has been appointed
prime minister, and the Prime Minister's failure to establish a
functioning government as the reasons for his dismissal.

3. For his part, Hussein has told us he intends to proceed with
plans to have Parliament approve his transitional cabinet, and begin
work on the details of a unity government. In the meantime,
Parliament on December 15 passed a vote of confidence in Prime
Minister Hussein by a reported 143 - 20 margin, effectively
rejecting Yusuf's decree.

ARS Moves Forward

4. The Yusuf - Nur Adde feud occurs against the background of
measurable progress in the reconciliation process. On October 26,
the moderate Islamist Djibouti-based wing of the Alliance for the
Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) and the TFG signed a declaration of
their intent to form a unity government. About one month later, the
two parties in another declaration outlined what shape that unity
government might take.

5. Unlike the TFG, ARS-Djibouti has maintained a united front.
Chairman Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, with whom you will meet, followed the
October 26 agreement with a well-received trip to south-central
Somalia. The Chairman and more than twenty ARS leaders are
currently in Mogadishu, this time they say to stay, in an effort to
blunt by their presence some of al-Shabaab's momentum. It was on
Prime Minister Hussein's watch that the TFG successfully reached out
to the ARS. ARS Chairman Sheikh Sharif and Prime Minister Hussein
to all appearances have a cordial relationship.

Al-Shabaab Advances

6. Moderate Islamist Sheikh Sharif's heroic trip to Mogadishu is a
lonely counterpoint to al-Shabaab's recent territorial gains. Since
September, the fundamentalist Islamic group has seized control of
the key southern ports of Kismayo and Merka, and it reigns supreme
in the central Bay, Bakool, Lower Juba, and Lower Shabelle regions,
as well as controlling part of Gedo. In the last several days,
al-Shabaab has been attempting with some success to extend its reach
north through Galgadud to the Mudug region. Only the key government
towns of Baidoa and Mogadishu remain tenuously in TFG hands.

The al-Shabaab Threat

7. Although al-Shabaab has been on the march for some time, the
combined ineffectiveness of the TFG and its preoccupation with
personality conflicts has diminished its ability to counter the
threat. The TFG's lack of power on the ground has done little to
blunt al-Shabaab's advance. With the creation of a unity
government, there is a new understanding of the urgency to provide a
TFG-ARS joint military force with an ability to counter al-Shabaab
advances. Although al-Shabaab controls much territory, the picture
is not as black and white as it seems. In some places al-Shabaab's

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presence is thin and in others it must contest territory with
clan-based and other rival organizations.

8. Al-Shabaab's successes are occurring in tandem with Ethiopia's
plans to withdraw its troops by the end of December. Citing
exasperation with the TFG's inability to exert control, the costs of
occupation, and the failure of the international community to deploy
a muscular peace-keeping mission, the Ethiopian government, after
months of threatening, seems more serious about leaving this time.
Some Somali and international observers fear that Ethiopia's
departure will create a security vacuum which al-Shabaab could
easily fill. Others believe that the last several months of the
Ethiopian occupation have aided al-Shabaab by providing a cause
--the ouster of Somalia's historical enemy-- that all clans could
readily rally around. Ethiopia's withdrawal, they believe, would
take with it the glue that has held Somalis together to al-Shabaab's
benefit, and allow simmering resentments of al-Shabaab's harder-line
Islamic rule to bubble to the surface. Rather than bet on the
outcome, Secretary Rice and members of her team have been pushing
very hard for the authorization of a UN Peace-Keeping Operation that
would prevent an al-Shabaab sweep of Somalia.

Somaliland Suffers
from Somalia's Chaos

9. Somalia's success story, the self-declared autonomous region of
Somaliland, had its confidence severely shaken by the three
near-simultaneous suicide bombings that rattled its capital Hargeisa
on October 29. The bombings, like the piracy plague and recent
suspected al-Shabaab cross-border attacks into Kenya, serve as a
reminder that sustained instability in south and central Somalia has
consequences for areas on its periphery, and has triggered requests
by the Somaliland administration to the U.S. and other governments
for security assistance, which we are currently examining.

10. Even before the bombings, Somaliland had been struggling
economically, as increased prices for basic commodities and the
international economic downturn began to bite. The independent
Somaliland government has appealed for international assistance to
support southern Somali "refugees" seeking protection from the
conflict in south and central Somalia.

11. Efforts to register Somaliland's voters for the March 2009
presidential elections were interrupted only briefly by the
bombings. Somaliland President Dahir Riyale Kahin is seeking a
second term in office and the two opposition parties have pushed
hard for free and transparent elections. All Somaliland's political
parties have expressed confidence in and support for Somaliland's
constitution and democratic progress.

UN Rep Energetically
Leads Peace Process

12. The Secretary General's Special Representative (SRSG) Ahmedou
Ould-Abdallah has brought experience and energy to the Djibouti
Peace Process, bringing former warring parties TFG and ARS to the
cusp of a unity government. The SRSG will travel to Djibouti almost
immediately after a December 16 ICG meeting in New York that will be
attended by Secretary Rice, and that is designed to turn the
spotlight on Somalia at a time when the U.S. government is pushing
for authorization of a PKO for Somalia.

Focusing International Efforts

13. Two international organizations, the ICG and IGAD have helped
focus the international community and regional players' attention on
Somalia. The ICG has met periodically and has helped to channel
international support for ending the crisis. There will be a
meeting of the ICG, convened by SRSG Ould-Abdallah, in New York on
December 16 at which time the group will chart a collective path
forward. With Ethiopia in the lead, IGAD has recently proved itself
to be a more aggressive player on the Somalia question.

The Humanitarian Picture

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14. Seventeen years of turmoil continue to take their toll on
Somalia. An estimated 3.2 million people, representing 43 percent
of the population, need humanitarian assistance. This is an
increase of 77 percent since January 2008. About six thousand
Somalis arrive at Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp each month, and the
United States, the largest humanitarian donor, contributed over $250
million to Somalia in fiscal year 2008. Although the humanitarian
crisis is worsening, due to improvements in Somalia's transportation
and communication networks, it is not, nor will it likely become, a

15. We have scheduled an opportunity for you to meet with
humanitarian workers operating in Somalia. They will describe how
the deteriorating security situation is challenging humanitarian
access. Thirty-four aid workers have been killed in the line of
duty this year, and al-Shabaab threats have forced some aid
organizations to suspend or close their operations in Somalia.

16. A small group of vocal civil society leaders will travel to
Djibouti from Nairobi and Hargeisa to meet with you and highlight
the challenges they face. In the absence of a legitimate
government, the USG has supported civil society's and the private
sector's efforts to foster peace, social and economic development,
and democratic governance in Somalia. In Somalia, civil society
groups provide critical social services, such as education, health,
water, and food distribution. However, as with humanitarians, civil
society's work in Somalia has been reduced by instability, and many
of its representatives now work from Nairobi, or elsewhere.

Business Community:
Seeking Partnerships with U.S.

17. We've also scheduled a meeting for you with the Somali business
community. The Somalia Business and Investment Council (SBIC) was
founded in 2007 by over 100 Somali business leaders in the
livestock, shipping, telecommunications, money remittance, and
transport sectors. SBIC is chaired by Ahmed Nur Ali Jumale, the
founder of Al-Barakaat investment and money transfer network whose
assets (made up of thousands of ordinary Somalis' savings and
investments) were frozen in 2001 under Executive Order 13224 to
combat terrorist financing. The U.S. Treasury Department recently
convened an interagency meeting to discuss the prospect of
de-listing. The TFG, the Government of Djibouti, and SRSG
Ould-Abdallah also have advocated for the UN Security Council to
de-list Jumale and Al-Barakaat.

18. The resilient Somali business community, both at home and from
regional country offices, provides vital public services, including
food and fuel to Somalia. For example, large, diversified Somali
companies form the backbone of our in-country USG-funded
humanitarian food distribution. Business leaders have offered
direct material support to the TFG and would like to see a stable
government to enable large-scale reconstruction and development
projects. These business leaders work across clan divisions and
with the authorities on the ground in all areas. In Mogadishu's
teeming Bakara market, businesses jointly fund a private security
force considered a model for community-level policing. We engage
with SBIC and other key business leaders in Dubai, inside Somalia,
and the Somali diaspora, and all are interested in exploring
commercial partnerships and opportunities with U.S. businesses.


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