INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Unsc/Unmee: Members Fear Spread of Conflict To

Published: Tue 1 Aug 2006 01:58 PM
VZCZCXRO7123
RR RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN
DE RUCNDT #1434/01 2131358
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 011358Z AUG 06
FM USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9708
INFO RUEHZO/OAU COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 0929
RUEHAE/AMEMBASSY ASMARA 0760
RUEHDJ/AMEMBASSY DJIBOUTI 0072
RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM 0321
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 0489
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 USUN NEW YORK 001434
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ER ET PGOV PREL SO UNSC KPKO
SUBJECT: UNSC/UNMEE: MEMBERS FEAR SPREAD OF CONFLICT TO
SOMALIA AND FURTHER UNMEE DOWNSIZING
REF: SECSTATE 122495
1. (SBU) SUMMARY. United Nations Department of Peacekeeping
Operations (DPKO) Africa Division Director Titov updated the
Security Council at July 27 consultations on the status of
UNSCR 1681 (2006) implementation and on the situation on the
ground between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Members looked forward
to the August 24 meeting of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary
Commission (EEBC), but Titov warned against expecting changes
in the positions of either party. Japanese Permanent
Representative (PR) Oshima offered to host consultations with
troop-contributing countries (TCCs) in the Peacekeeping
Operations (PKO) Working Group (which Japan chairs) in the
run-up to UNSC consideration of the September mandate renewal
for the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE). Several
Members appeared to have second thoughts about UNSCR 1681
implementation, expressing concern about the 'undermining' of
UNMEE's mandate and looking at the possibility of further
downsizing come September mandate renewal as a worst-case
scenario. Members also expressed concern about the
implications that the protracted stalemate between Ethiopia
and Eritrea carried for the current power struggle between
the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and militias
of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC). END SUMMARY.
GROUND SITUATION UNCHANGED, DOWNSIZING ON TRACK
--------------------------------------------- ---
2. (SBU) Titov noted that there were no major military
developments in and around the Temporary Security Zone, that
troops on both sides were in defensive positions and that no
movement of heavy artillery had been observed. He pointed
out that the presence of continued restrictions on UNMEE's
freedom of movement, especially the helicopter ban, could
cause tensions between the sides to escalate. Titov lamented
the continued detention of ten UNMEE local staff members.
3. (SBU) Titov prefaced his description of UNSCR 1681
implementation by saying that the reduction of UNMEE's force
strength to 2,300 had 'far-reaching' implications for the
Mission. Nevertheless, he explained, a comprehensive
downsizing plan had been finalized and was being implemented:
over 500 troops had been repatriated since July 14, with
complete reduction anticipated by August 31. Internal
streamlining was compensating for the strain downsizing had
placed on UNMEE capabilities: DPKO addressed the lack of
medical evacuation capacity, for example, by upgrading
medical facilities and re-locating a Level II hospital from
Asmara to Axum.
4. (SBU) Several Members appeared to have second thoughts
about UNSCR 1681 implementation, expressing concern about the
'undermining' of UNMEE's mandate and looking at the
possibility of further downsizing come September mandate
renewal as a worst-case scenario. The UK Deputy PR
recommended that UNMEE be granted sufficient time to 'settle
in' to its new configuration before its mandate is further
revised. (COMMENT: UKUN was the single biggest obstacle to
our plan to downsize UNMEE in May and is clearly setting the
stage for the fight to come in September should we seek
further reductions in UNMEE's size. END COMMENT.) Both the
Qatari and Ghanaian representatives made a plea for the
parties to progress on border demarcation, without which the
Council would be 'forced' to reconsider further downsizing.
Japanese PR Oshima offered to host consultations with UNMEE
TCCs in the PKO Working Group (which Japan chairs) in the
run-up to consideration of UNMEE's future mandate. (NOTE:
The last time this group convened, Titov himself, who
re-committed today to attend this future PKO meeting, spoke
out against reducing UNMEE's forces. END NOTE.) Only the
Peruvian delegate spoke in favor of a 'realistic' approach
toward UNMEE's numbers, arguing at length against putting too
much faith in the August 24 EEBC meeting.
REGIONAL IMPLICATIONS OF PROTRACTED BORDER STALEMATE
--------------------------------------------- -------
5. (SBU) Titov mentioned the EEBC decision to re-open its
field offices in Asmara and Addis Ababa, with staff ready to
re-deploy in early August. He urged the international
community to remain engaged in the border standoff between
Ethiopia and Eritrea, urging Members to persuade the parties
to attend the next EEBC meeting on August 24 but warning that
he had no indication that either party would attend or that
their respective positions would radically change as a result
of the meeting. Still, Titov heralded the U.S. diplomatic
USUN NEW Y 00001434 002 OF 002
initiative as the only chance for success in the crisis,
which was now taking on an increased regional dimension. He
said that while the UN could confirm neither the presence of
up to 1,500 Ethiopian troops and civilian advisers in and
around Baidoa nor the arrival of Ethiopian heavy-lift and
attack helicopters at Baidoa Airport, Ethiopian support to
the TFG would represent a 'new dynamic' in the current
situation in Somalia. Titov added that UNMEE and the UN
Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) were preparing a shared analysis of
regional security trends to be submitted to the Council.
6. (SBU) The majority of Members jumped on Titov's mention of
the regional aspects of the situation between Ethiopia and
Eritrea, led by Ambassador Sanders (drawing from reftel
points) and Slovakian PR Burian. The Argentine
representative asked about the veracity of TFG press reports
about Eritrea's equipping UIC militias; Titov could not
confirm but would pass the request on to the Department of
Political Affairs, which has the lead on Somalia issues. The
UK DPR urged Members to remind the parties to refrain from
violence in Somalia, referring to the July 13 Presidential
Statement on the issue (S/PRST/2006/31). Danish PR Loj
suggested the Council consider holding a broader discussion
of sub-regional issues in the near future. Greek PR
Vassilakis offered to back-brief the Council on his
forthcoming meetings with PRs of the Ethiopian and Eritrean
Missions on committing to the EEBC process.
BOLTON
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