INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Somalia - Somaliland: "Terror Attacks Will Not Deter Us"

Published: Thu 4 Dec 2008 03:11 PM
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SUBJECT: SOMALIA - Somaliland: "Terror Attacks Will Not Deter Us"
REF: A) Nairobi 2158 B) 11/28 Email to AF/RSA
1. (SBU) Summary: On December 3, Somaliland Minister of Foreign
Affairs Abdullahi Mohamed Duale and Minister of Planning Ali Ibrahim
Mohamed told us that despite the recent terror attacks, Somaliland
will not veer from its democratic path. Ministers Duale and Mohamed
said that Somaliland authorities have initiated a thorough
investigation and they believe al-Shabaab is responsible for the
October 29 coordinated terror attacks in Hargeisa. The ministers
expressed sincere appreciation for the United States' support in the
wake of the bombings and proposed counter-terrorism initiatives for
us to fund. They also lauded the USG-funded development programs
that have been instrumental in Somaliland's democratic reforms.
They invited proactive engagement on the upcoming presidential
elections and asked for our support of the African Union's
assessment mission related to Somaliland recognition. The ministers
also asked for U.S. assistance in countering President Yusuf's
alleged recent efforts from Puntland to reignite conflict with
Somaliland over their disputed shared border. An aide memoire (text
in paragraph 12) underscored their support for the Djibouti process
and commitment to combating piracy. End Summary.
-------------------
We Remain on
our Democratic Path
-------------------
2. (SBU) The December 3 meeting began with Somaliland Minister of
Foreign Affairs Abdullahi Mohamed Duale and Minister of Planning Ali
Ibrahim Mohamed graciously thanking the USG for its continued
support and collaboration. Duale noted with appreciation the
September visit of mission officials to Hargeisa (Ref A) and
extended an invitation for us to return as soon as possible. The
ministers strongly emphasized that despite the October 29 terror
attacks, Somaliland remains committed to its constitution and the
democratic process outlined therein. He said that no matter the
challenges, all Somalilanders are committed to "the democratic
program" and the upcoming elections.
3. (SBU) The Foreign Minister proclaimed, "We will not let
al-Shabaab and the ICU win - we will show them that despite their
efforts, we remain committed to peace." He underscored the pride
that all citizens have in the constitution they drafted, passed
through referendum, and embraced. He noted with concern "the
influence of a religious and ideological war that is converting our
young people into something we do not recognize."
4. (SBU) Duale told us that after the bombing, the voter
registration process had to be temporarily suspended but that as of
December 1, the process was moving forward. The ministers
appreciated the work of the USG-funded organizations collaborating
on the electoral process. Somaliland President Riyale had made a
show of his early registration to encourage people to get out and
register. He concluded by reiterating that the attack of October 29
made Somaliland stronger and more resilient in its commitment to
defend its constitution.
--------------------------
Anti-Terrorism and
Security Assistance Needed
--------------------------
5. (SBU) The Foreign Minister confirmed that the Somaliland
authorities have taken a number of measures to ensure a thorough
investigation into the October 29 bombings. He said that while the
investigation is still ongoing, at this stage they have clear
evidence that the coordinated bombings were al-Shabaab sponsored.
The ministers said that they hope to see more U.S.-Somaliland
collaboration in the security sector, in particular addressing high
priority needs in intelligence training and cooperation, training of
security forces, logistical support and capacity building. Duale
said that the government worked hard on the proposal submitted to
the USG (Ref B) and they look forward to a decision about proposed
projects.
6. (SBU) The ministers told us that in order to avert another
attack, the government is taking a series of measures: (1) improving
Somaliland's counter-terror laws; (2) strengthening the Ministry of
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Religious Affairs and establishing a Religious Council to encourage
moderate and culturally-appropriate expression of Islamic faith in
schools and mosques; (3) reforming and strengthening the national
security institutions; and (4) empowering community/neighborhood
watch networks, including the introduction of a hot line for
anonymous tips about suspicious activity.
7. (SBU) They asked us to influence the UN to shift Somaliland back
to Phase III security status. (Note: Following the bombing, the UN
pulled out its staff and identified Somaliland as a "Phase IV"
country, limiting the type of UN engagement allowed.) The UN
security reclassification impacts Somaliland's reconstruction and
development plan and limits international election observation,
thereby rewarding terrorism, they explained.
----------------
Looking Forward
- to Recognition
----------------
8. (SBU) The ministers requested a meeting with the new U.S.
administration to revive recognition negotiations begun with
then-A/S for Africa Susan Rice.
9. (SBU) They noted a recent assessment mission by the African
Union (AU) Special Envoy to Somalia that they regarded as the next
step following the 2005 AU Commission report of Somaliland. They
were encouraged by the AU finally paying more attention to the case
of Somaliland and said that what is most needed is a visit by AU
member states which would be the arbiter on any decision regarding
recognition. They asked us to closely review the upcoming AU report
and for the USG to encourage the AU to make progress on the case for
Somaliland recognition. We noted that any US decision on
recognition would follow a decision by the AU member states and
noted that Somaliland's performance in the upcoming elections would
be an important component in the case for recognition.
-------------------------
Problems Loom -
Including President Yusuf
-------------------------
10. (SBU) As they did during our September visit to Hargeisa, the
ministers noted the increasing burden of the internally-displaced
persons from southern Somalia on the economy. They made the case
for much greater engagement on the humanitarian front and told us
the government has made it easier for NGOs to operate in Somaliland.
Minister Mohamed noted that after a concerted effort, a NGO law for
local NGOs was now complete and awaiting approval in parliament. He
acknowledged the important role that USG-funded partners played in
this process. They asked that USAID consider expanding its support
to include tangible programs that will impact livelihoods and
support economic growth. The ministers told us that the pressure of
persons from the South could lead to increased tensions as people
compete for limited resources and opportunities.
11. (SBU) The ministers acknowledged the support of the Somaliland
government for the Djibouti process, and flagged their immediate
concern with President Yusuf's presence in Garowe. They suggested
that the TFG president was inciting conflict by encouraging a
Puntland offensive in the Sool/Sanaag region. The Somaliland
ministers asked for our assistance in engaging Yusuf on this issue,
agreeing that the last thing that Puntland or Somaliland needs is
increased insecurity in the border areas.
12. (U) At the meeting, the ministers provided us an aide memoire
with their most important points. Begin Text:
Government of Somaliland Aide Memoire, November 2008
-- Somaliland has been the victim of the most serious terrorist
attacks ever seen in the Horn of Africa. The authorities are making
good progress in their investigations. We believe the bombings to be
the work of al-Shabaab.
-- Putting the Somaliland issue to one side while focusing on
Somalia to the south never has been a satisfactory policy. It is now
clear that such a policy could lead to the end of the successful
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Somaliland state and the end of Somaliland's peace and stability.
The Somaliland state and our peace and stability are under attack
from the same forces who are spoiling the political process in
Somalia. In order to survive, Somaliland needs engagement and
support from the international community. .
-- The Government of Somaliland wishes to see progress in the
political process in Somalia and welcomes the Djibouti agreement.
But this process will not come to a successful conclusion or be
complete as long as it fails to resolve the issue of Somaliland's
status.
Somaliland is ready to talk to any government in Mogadishu that is
in a position to resolve the issue of the status of Somaliland. But
at the same time Somaliland cannot be held hostage to the lack of
political progress and peace in the south; not if the political
progress and peace that Somaliland has achieved is going to be
sustained in the face of determined attack.
-- We expect that the AU will take forward its engagement on
Somaliland and are awaiting the recommendations of the AU special
envoy on Somalia who visited Hargeisa recently.
-- Planning for Somaliland's second Presidential elections in March
2009 is going ahead, although security concerns following the
bombings have caused a suspension of the internationally organised
voter registration process.
-- The government of Somaliland has a very strong record combating
piracy and preventing pirates operating from Somaliland's coast. We
continue to offer our facilities and cooperation to the
international community in its efforts to combat piracy.
RANNEBERGER
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