Cablegate: Somalia - Kenyan Foreign Minister Pulses

DE RUEHNR #2140/01 2811512
R 081512Z OCT 09




E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/08/2019



Classified By: Somalia Unit Counselor Bob Patterson; reasons 1.4 (b,d).

1. (C) Summary: Kenyan Foreign Minister Wetangula on October 8 convened EU representatives and the U.S. for what he said was an informal discussion of Somalia. Wetangula stressed several times that the GOK believed there was no alternative to the Somalia Transitional Federal Government (TFG), but acknowledged that the TFG was weak and not active enough. He urged donor countries to make good on their pledges to Somalia, backed Price Waterhouse Cooper's agreement with the TFG, and alleged that the September 17 suicide attacks on AMISOM in Mogadishu had Eritrean fingerprints. Wetangula also thought that the international community should be resident in Mogadishu. In the discussion that followed, the British Ambassador pushed a "bottom up/top down" approach to Somalia that would result in a weak central government and much near-independent activity in the regions. In the only off-key moment at the lunch, the Spanish Ambassador announced that the TFG had little prospect of success, and said that Spain early in its EU presidency planned an international conference on Somalia to which it planned to invite all Somali entities, including al-Shabaab. In a brief conversation after the lunch, it was clear that the other EU representatives present (UK, Sweden, Italy, European Commission) were determined to ensure that the Spanish Ambassador's conference did not come to pass. End summary.

Kenyan Foreign Minister Strongly Backs TFG

2. (C) Kenyan Foreign Minister Wetangula hosted a lunch on October 8 for selected EU ambassadors, Somalia Unit representative in the absence of Ambassador Ranneberger, and Kenyan MFA Horn of Africa Division representatives. Wetangula opened the lunch by insisting that the TFG, while weak, must not be allowed to fail. Wetangula described al-Shabaab as weak, but still receiving assistance from Eritrea which, he said, had played a role in the September 17 suicide attacks on AMISOM. Wetangula worried repeatedly about Eritrea during the lunch.

3. (C) Wetangula urged that aid be given immediately to the TFG. He mentioned unfulfilled international community financial pledges and suggested that equipment, such as helicopters and armored vehicles, could intimidate a weak al-Shabaab in Mogadishu. Wetangula suggested that GOK personnel could provide training to would-be Somali helicopter pilots. Without describing GOK efforts to assist the TFG, Wetangula highlighted the importance of Somalia's Lower Juba area and its strategic significance to Kenya. Recent fighting had left the "wrong people" in control of Kismayo, Wetangula said.

4. (C) Wetangula also urged a more active role for Somaliland and Puntland where there was a "semblance of order" in south-central Somalia. He praised Ugandan and Djiboutian efforts to train troops, but worried that there was not a plan for their incorporation into the TFG's security structures. Wetangula thought that international community efforts would gain credibility and relevance if the international community was presence in Mogadishu. With a nod to the Kenyan Special Envoy for Somalia, who was present, Wetangula said he would be the "first to send" a representative there if a green zone were established.

EU Ambassadors Back Weaker Federal Structures -------------------------

5. (C) The British Ambassador seconded much of what Wetangula said, but added that the TFG could do "more to help itself" than it had to date. He mentioned greater outreach to like-minded groups around Somalia as an example, and touted alliance building as superior to military activity. Somalia had been ratcheted up the list of HMG foreign policy priorities, he said, and a close study of past, failed reconciliation efforts had convinced the UK that a successful Somalia would feature a loose federal government and semi-autonomous regions. He thought the international community should engage in a simultaneous "bottom-up/top-down" approach. The Ambassador agreed with Wetangula that Eritrea was "extremely malignant," and noted he had just cleared on a document that would have an unnamed senior UK official aggressively raise Eritrea's behavior during a forthcoming visit to Qatar. NAIROBI 00002140 002 OF 002

6. (C) The Italian government seconded a weaker central government, noting that the last strong government, Siad Barre's, had consequences that continue to complicate efforts at reconciliation today. The GOI, in addition to providing financial assistance to the TFG via the AU, planned to sponsor the training of up to one thousand TFG police under UN auspices, he said.

7. (C) The EU Commission Special Representative described progress made in realizing EU pledges, then worried about the increasing prominence of negative clan dynamics in an already weak TFG. Years of ultimately unsuccessful training efforts, he said, made it imperative that there be the equivalent of a civil service, so that the skills acquired through training would remain in place even if a new TFG were to come to power.

Spanish Ambassador More Critical, Urges Engagement with al-Shabaab

8. (C) In the only discordant note of the lunch, the Spanish Ambassador dismissed the TFG as "too weak from the start." He quoted approvingly disparaging comments allegedly made by Puntland President "Faroole" about the TFG, criticized TFG ministers for spending too little time in Mogadishu, and promised that there would be a new Somalia conference early in the Spanish EU presidency to which al-Shabaab representatives would be invited. The TFG, he said, had failed to enlist al-Shabaab in its efforts. The British Ambassador in particuar took issue with Spain's alleged intention to invite al-Shabaab to such a conference. He and other EU colleagues (Italy, Sweden, the European Commission) made it clear to Somalia Unit representative after the lunch that the Spanish presidency would be resisted should it attempt to stage such a conference.


9. (C) Wetangula's welcome initiative did not break any new ground, and the Foreign Minister offered no information about GOK efforts to assist the TFG in Jubaland, but his repeated comments during the lunch about what he said was continued active Eritrean involvement in Somalia suggested that Eritrea will be very much on the agenda at the next IGAD ministerial. HOZA


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