Cablegate: Addis Ababa Response - Security Environment

Published: Wed 22 Aug 2007 05:28 AM
DE RUEHDS #2606/01 2340528
R 220528Z AUG 07
E.O. 12958: N/A
REF: STATE 110310
NOTE: Responses are keyed to questions in reftel.
A. Yes, there is a sizable Muslim population throughout
Ethiopia as well as ethnic Somalis. Generally, there is
very little if any anti-American sentiment among the
majority of the population in Ethiopia. Only small
segments of the general population within Ethiopia are
prone to extremism. There have not been any anti-American
demonstrations in Ethiopia for the past several years.
B. No; since June 2005, the GOE has not permitted public
C. No.
D. N/A.
E. N/A; there have not been any anti-American
demonstrations over the past year.
F. In June and November 2005, there were
demonstrations/riots throughout Addis Ababa protesting the
results of national elections. The Ethiopian police and
security services responded with force to quell the
situation. Approximately 200 Ethiopian civilians were
reported to be killed in Addis Ababa.
G. No, the above demonstrations and riots primarily focused
on GOE facilities. Some passing USG vehicles were struck
by projectiles and sustained minor damage.
H. No.
I. No.
J. No. The Embassy is located in close proximity (1/2 mile
radius) to several educational institutions and GOE
facilities. The 2005 demonstrations/riots following
national elections occurred within this radius. In early
2007, student demonstrations (not directed at the USG) at
Addis Ababa University (located on the same road as the
Embassy) hindered Embassy personnel coming/departing the
compound. No Embassy locations or personnel were directly
involved or impacted by this situation.
K. N/A. No anti-American demonstrations within the past
L. With the exception of the post-election demonstrations
in June and November 2005, and Addis Ababa University
student demonstrations in early 2007, demonstrations and
large public gatherings in Addis Ababa tend to be peaceful
and well controlled.
M. No. See Item G above.
A. Yes. In response to threats to its security posed by
extremist elements, in December 2006 the GOE intervened
militarily in Somalia on behalf of the Somalia's
Transitional Federal Government (TFG), in order to oust the
Islamic fundamentalist Council of Islamic Courts (CIC).
Ethiopia is also engaged in a border dispute with Eritrea;
a United Nations peacekeeping mission (UNMEE) is stationed
along their common border. There are also allegations the
Eritrean Government has planned or supported terrorist
attacks within Ethiopia, as well as provided support to
various anti-Ethiopian groups. Internally, the GOE is
currently engaged in an active counter-insurgency campaign
in the Ogaden area of Ethiopia's Somali Region against the
Ogadeni National Liberation Front (ONLF). Other internal
opposition groups include the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF),
which has been accused, along with the ONLF, of conducting
hostile attacks (bombings) within Ethiopia in the past.
B. Intrastate conflict occurs in most regions of Ethiopia.
In 2006, the GOE accused internal opposition groups of
responsibility for a series of bombings (hand grenade
attacks) within Addis Ababa, resulting in some property
damage, injuries and loss of life.
C. There are no U.S. diplomatic facilities located outside
of Addis Ababa. The Embassy maintains 4 official locations
(Embassy, USAID, CDC and GSO/Warehouse) and approximately
115 residential locations spread out over a 7-mile radius
within Addis Ababa. Peace Corps Volunteers will establish
facilities in Addis Ababa later this year. Some of these
locations are located in close proximity to the 2005 and
2006 demonstration and bombing sites, although none were
directly targeted or involved.
D. No, although some groups associated with the conflict
involving Somalia and Eritrea are not necessarily favorable
toward Americans. Anti-American sentiment rarely manifests
itself in Ethiopia.
A. Although Ethiopian law enforcement and security services
fall short of meeting Western standards in regards to
professionalism and training, they are reasonably good in
comparison to other countries in the region.
B. GOE security services have received training from the
USG, to include: leadership development, major case
management, travel documents, anti-counterfeiting, land
border security, protective security detail operations,
cyber-crimes, post-blast investigation, physical security
of vital installations, preventing attacks on soft targets,
and a variety of courses provided by the International Law
Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Botswana.
Ethiopians tend to be enthusiastic students and eager to
learn. The training provided was appreciated and well
received by the host country government and the individual
students. Future training opportunities provided to the
GOE will be worthwhile and appreciated.
C. As with most African nations, there is some corruption
within the GOE's law enforcement and security services.
Unlike many African countries, the level of corruption
among GOE security and law enforcement services does not
stymie efforts to enforce the law and ensure general
security. Corruption within Ethiopia can be characterized
as petty and involving cronyism.
D. Generally, GOE intelligence services are reasonably
professional and capable of deterring terrorist actions
within the limitations of their resources and abilities.
The GOE claimed to foil a terrorist attack by Eritreans
targeting the African Union Summit in December 2006.
During 2007, the GOE claimed to foil at least two separate
terrorist attacks within Addis Ababa by internal opposition
E. GOE intelligence and law enforcement services tend to be
extremely cooperative and responsive to the Embassy's
requests for information and support, within the
limitations of their resources and abilities.
F. Yes. In response to threats to its internal security
posed by extremist elements based in Somalia, in late 2006
the GOE launched military operations into Somalia and
diminished the capabilities of various individuals and
organizations involved in terrorism. During 2007, the GOE
claimed to uncover and foil at least two terrorist
operations targeting Addis Ababa by internal opposition and
Eritrean groups.
G. Yes, within the limitations of their abilities and
H. Relative to other countries on the continent, security
at Ethiopia's major airports is generally good. While
access control and security screening to the civil aviation
terminal is quite good, there are concerns regarding
vulnerabilities of access control and security screening to
the cargo terminals and service areas. State-run Ethiopian
Airlines is a government monopoly (the foreign minister is
among its board of directors), and Ethiopia is one of the
few African countries to receive a "Category I" rating from
FAA for safety and security; TSA officials have provided
training for airport personnel.
I. Customs and immigration controls at Ethiopia's major
airports and land border crossings are good. Ethiopia
lacks the resources to adequately ensure the security of
its large land borders, especially in desolate/remote
In response to concerns to its security, the GOE has
established and operates security checkpoints on all major
roads leading to Addis Ababa. Most commercial and some
private vehicles are stopped and subject to inspection.
While this effort is better than nothing and has yielded
some success, it is impossible to reasonably inspect all
vehicles, goods and individuals coming to Addis Ababa.
The GOE has expressed concern to Embassy officials
regarding the integrity of border security on its border
with Somalia. There are reports of trading routes that
circumvent major roads and established checkpoints.
The Embassy has encountered problems on a regular basis
involving the integrity of Ethiopian passports and identity
documents. It is not difficult for individuals inclined to
do so to obtain fraudulent passports and identity
J. Ethiopia has a vast border, neighboring five other
African nations (Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and
Kenya). Border patrol forces are reasonably effective at
major/formal border crossing areas. However, a significant
portion of Ethiopia's land borders are assessed as open and
A. No. However, after Ethiopia's December 2006 military
intervention in Somalia, Al-Qaeda publicly declared
Ethiopia to be a viable target.
B. N/A.
C. No.
D. N/A.
E. No.
F. No.
G. N/A.
H. N/A.
A. No. The GOE considers several indigenous groups active
in Ethiopia to be terrorist organizations (e.g., the
Ogadeni National Liberation Front and the Oromo Liberation
Front); however, they have not been designated as terrorist
organizations by the USG. These groups have been reported
to carry out attacks on Ethiopian government interests and
are of concern to the GOE.
B. See above.
C. In 2007, the ONLF claimed responsibility for an attack
against a Chinese oil drilling facility in the Ogaden
region, resulting in the deaths of approximately 75
individuals, including Ethiopian troops guarding the
facility as well as Ethiopian and Chinese civilian workers.
D. See above.
E. No.
F. No.
G. The ONLF has primarily carried out attacks in the Ogaden
(i.e., the Somali Region of eastern Ethiopia).
H. N/A.
A. Yes, foreign terrorist groups present in Ethiopia
include al-Itihaad al-Islamiya (AIAI), also known as the
United Western Somali Liberation Front. In 1996, an
Egyptian extremist group attempted to assassinate the
visiting Egyptian president in Addis Ababa.
B. Post assesses that AIAI's presence includes operational
C. No, the GOE is not sympathetic to AIAI, and its December
2006 military intervention in Somalia on behalf of the TFG
was aimed at ousting extremist elements. In 1996, AIAI
placed and detonated bombs at two large hotels and
attempted to assassinate the GOE Minister of Transportation
in Addis Ababa.
D. Unknown
E. Ethiopia hosts a large ethnic Somali population, some of
whom are possibly inclined to support extremist groups
affected by Ethiopian military operations in Somalia.
Nearly half of Ethiopia's population is Muslim.
F. There have not been any anti-American terrorist attacks
in Ethiopia in recent history. Iran, Syria, Sudan, Serbia,
North Korea, and Cuba maintain diplomatic missions in Addis
Ababa, and likely have accompanying security/intelligence
officers among their diplomatic staff.
G. Weapons and explosives are readily available in Somalia,
and could be easily smuggled into Ethiopia through the
vast, open, and porous land border. There has been
information Eritrea has provided weapons and explosives to
various groups that do not view the Ethiopian government
Weapons and explosives are available within Ethiopia
through underground suppliers. On a recent trip to a local
market, Embassy personnel reported observing live hand
grenades for sale at a market stall.
Weapons and explosives are also available within Kenya,
Sudan, and Djibouti through underground sources, and could
be smuggled into Ethiopia through the vast, open, and
porous land borders.
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