WikiLeaks Update (14) – EthioCables -released upto 2011-08-30
See in particular the following – The Tenor of US Foreign policy on Ethiopia:

DE RUEHDS #3048/01 3191510
O 151510Z NOV 06




E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/13/2016


1. (SBU) Summary: As I prepare to turn over my
responsibilities to my good friend and respected colleague,
Ambassador Don Yamamoto, I urge the USG to maintain and
strengthen our partnership with Ethiopia. Ethiopia is moving
in the right direction -- despite the nay-sayers -- on
democracy, development, and protecting the region from
terrorism and radical Islam. If we fail to consolidate and
support Ethiopia, we could unwittingly contribute to the
break-up of the nation, and fuel a Christian - Muslim
conflict in the Horn. Abraham Lincoln said of his
Presidency, "I confess to not having controlled events, but
to having been controlled by events." No African government
can ensure to its citizens democracy, jobs and peace over the
next half century without the assistance of the United States
and the international community. Ethiopia is an old empire
but a fragile one. Political and religious divisions could
potentially tear away parts of Oromiya, Gambella, and the
Somali region from the uneasy federation. Even Tigray, where
the Abyssinian empire began, is at risk because the jailed
CUD leaders want a unitary state that includes Eritrea, and
Tigrean and Eritreans alike will resist Amahara domination.

2. (SBU) When Assistant Secretary Frazer called for a
"partnership with Africa," she implicitly recognized that
Africa looks to us not just for assistance, but for moral
legitimacy that reinforces and encourages good government.
Ethiopia, with its 77 million Christian and Muslims -- the
second most populus country in Africa -- would seem to be the
ideal partner. It is the oldest nation and the only one not
to have been colonized in sub-Saharan Africa. It is the only
democratic nation that can project power throughout the Horn.
It is also the remaining bulwark against the expansion of
radical Islam throughout Somalia and beyond. We cannot allow
a once chaotic collection of clans led by Islamist and
terrorist to turn itself into an African Taliban that could
again destroy our embassies and our interests. To assure
that those who would create a Muslim Caliphate are not
successful, we must become a full and trusted partner that
can help resolve the internal political, ethnic and religious
divides that threaten Ethiopia's existence and the region's
stability. The recent killings of Christian and Muslims --
now on CDs being passed around -- and the burning of
churches is seen by head of the Supreme Islamic Council as a
provocation by Wahhabists who are determined to upend the
delicate religious balance in a country between a country
considered to be "Christian" by Muslims, but which is home to
over 30 million Muslims.

3. (SBU) We have stood steadfast with Ethiopia over a
difficult year, allowing impressive progress to be made,
despite the temporary loss of over $300 million in assistance
from the World Bank and the European Union. Today, with both
Bank and Union aid restored, Ethiopia is being given some of
the highest marks in Africa for carrying out policies that
will lead to sustainable development. Ethiopia has made
application for accession to the WTO and maintained a growth
rate of seven percent of GDP over the last several years. If
Ethiopia can meet rising expectations by providing
opportunity for its people, it can overcome its internal
divisons. Our resources will be needed to win that race
against time. Nowhere are our dollars better spent than in
reforming state institutions from Justice to Security and in
educating Ethiopians to fully participate in their future.
Because we built a relationship of trust with the Prime
Minister and his innter circle as well as with the
opposition, we were instrumental in getting Parliament to
revise its rules and conduct open debates between the ruling
party and the 150 opposition MPs. The ruling party continues
its dialogue with all legal oppositions parties, and in
consultation with them is preparing to name a new National
Electoral Board to prepare for elections in the spring of
2007. The Parliament is poised to enact anti-terrorism and
media laws that meet international standards. The report of
the Independent Inquiry Commission into the riots following
the May 2005 elections, has been openly debated in Parliament
and in the media. Despite the barrage of international

ADDIS ABAB 00003048 002 OF 005

criticism, there is no dispute about the facts. The report
presented to the Parliament documented 193 deaths, accused
the government of mistakes and requested follow-on
investigations. The difference between the Commissioners who
defected -- and now are presenting their story to our
Congress -- is an argument over whether the security forces
used excessive force.

4. (SBU) The democratic trend is positive. But the
partnership will not be strengthened if we bend to demands to
pass legislation that puts Ethiopia in the same category as
countries on our terrorist list, or make public our private
concerns about human rights and governance. We now stand a
chance of being instrumental in gaining pardons for the CUD
detinees, but this could be jeopardized if Ethiopia's leaders
calculate that they will be seen as reacting to international
pressure. Ethiopia -- as I have learned -- will not act from
weakness or because of public threats or even loss of aid.
Yet it will -- and has -- listened to its friends. If we
stay the course -- continue the partnership, and build the
trust -- not only do we stand a good chance of getting the
prisoners pardons, but we will reinforce good governance,
economic reform and defense against terrorism in the Horn.
Ethiopia is neither -- as its critics like to claim -- a
Marxist-Leninist dictatorship, nor is it a multi-party
democracy that strictly adheres to open market principles.
But if hubris demands that partnership be based on our
standards, then we will find ourselves helping those whose
principal goal is neither democracy nor development, but
regime change. The policy of partnership is succeeding.
Meles has listened to our advice not to attack the Islamic
Courts, considered pardons for the CUD prisoners, and to put
in place a democratic process. These actions have convinced
the Europeans and World Bank to resume and increase their
assistance. As we continue to build our partnership, we will
be foremost among Ethiopia's friends and foremost among those
who are committed to help Ethiopia ensure that the trend to
democracy, development and stability becomes a reality. End


5. (SBU) Our conversations with Meles and the EPRDF hierarchy
have effectively encouraged Meles and the GOE to deepen their
commitment to Ethiopia's democracy and development. Ethiopia
has moved from meeting four out of sixteen of the Millennium
Challenge Account indicators last year to meeting seven out
of sixteen this year. Today 150 opposition MP's are fully
participating in Parliament, compared with only a handful
eighteen months ago. Opposition MPs hold the chair and
deputy chair of the Accounting Committee and two deputy
chairs in the other 13 standing committees. Dialogue between
the ruling EPRDF party and all the opposition parties
resulted in the overwhelming adoption of modified
Parliamentary rules that reflect international standards and
permit the opposition to question Minister and propose laws.
The on-going dialogue among the ruling party and opposition
has already addressed rule of law issues in the Oromia and
Amhara regions and will now publicly review a new media law
and capacity building at the National Electoral Board.
Consultants from the US have laid out the international
standards that we expect both the media and anti-terrorism
laws to meet. Public financing of political parties is also
under consideration. Perhaps most importantly, Prime
Minister Meles is publicly committed to democracy and to
eradicating poverty. He has appeared before Parliament six
times in the last nine months. Opposition leaders' speeches
and critiques have been televised and published in the state
media. The recent EPRDF summit acknowledged the ruling
party's weak performance in governance, and committed the
next three years to improved governance, building democracy
and development.

6. (SBU) As for those detained in connection with last
November's violent unrest, our discussions with Meles led to
dropping the charges against VOA reporters and 14 others and
the reduction of charges. The judicial process has been open

ADDIS ABAB 00003048 003 OF 005

to the public, including to US NGO Lawyers Without Borders.
The prosecution has recently argued somewhat more
persuasively through ongoing witness testimony that some of
the defendants called for armed uprising and protest to
overthrow the government. The trial is expected to end in
early January. During their year-long detention, the
prisoners have had access to health care and visitors. The
principal CUD leaders have allegedly continued to advocate
civil disobedience, and all but three defendants have refused
legal counsel. We continue to seek ways to reconcile the
differences and have some hope, as Meles reiterated his
commitment to pardons if the defendants are found guilty but
are willing to work within the system and to express regret
for their past mistakes. Untangling this web of fear, ethnic
differences and political ambition will take time. It is not
a one-sided problem. Some of the CUD detained leaders as
well as their vocal, hard-line supporters in the Diaspora are
unwilling to engage in the democratic process, whether by
joining Parliament or by agreeing to disavow street action.


7. (SBU) If we have the courage to strengthen our commitment
to Ethiopia, we have much to gain. But if we aggressively
and publicly press Meles in order to appease the Diaspora,
some members of Congress and some civil society groups, we
will lose Ethiopia. We will cede our influence, leaving the
field to China, Russia and others who have little interest in
helping to create a multi-party democracy. We will not gain
the release of the CUD detainees, or even the improved
governance performance we seek, because Meles will not
respond if he is not treated with respect and as a full
partner. Meles was willing to forego $300 million in World
Band and European Commission assistance because he believed
that they had broken their partnership with Ethiopia. The
GOE, despite its friendship with us, remains unsure about
whether rebuilding its partnership with the West is worth the
effort if the relationship will break down when the going
gets rough. Meles has already turned to China as a more
reliable partner than Europe, even though EU assistance
levels have been restored. But Meles will always do what he
believes to be in the country's national interest rather than
accepting our demands. Today we have a strong relationship
with Meles and the inner circle, but it is a wary one. It is
not yet a full partnership because Washington remains
hesitant over Ethiopia's human rights record, despite
significant improvements over last year. As Ethiopia faces -
almost alone -- a radical Islamist challenge to its existence
and the region's stability, it is time to put aside our
hesitations and make Ethiopia a full partner of the US. It
will help the GOE grow democracy and civil society by
promoting stability, reconciling the country's numerous
ethnic and separatist aspirations and assuring continuing
tolerance among Christian Orthodox and Muslim faith.


8. (C) Somalia's Islamic Courts (CIC), led by Sheik Hassan
Dahir Aweys, according to Embassy Nairobi, "has had one
consistent agenda and this is the establishment of an
extremist Islamic state in Somalia" and to that end "(he) is
willing to countenance significant bloodshed to achieve it."
Aweys' CIC over the past six months has morphed from
providing security in Mogadishu into a radical movement
fueled by the militant Shabaab ("youth"). They are now in
open battle with the semi-autonomous region of Puntland and
attempting to subvert Somaliland. The CIC -- with support
from Al Qaeda East African operatives, foreign resources and
other Jihadist fighters -- is poised to attack Baidoa, the
headquarters of the shaky Transitional Federal Government.
If successful, the Islamists will have not just overturned a
legitimate government -- set up by Somalis, the region and
the international community after fourteen years of chaos --
but it will then establish itself as the radical Islamic
government of southern Somalia. It will have set a precedent
for using force to overturn a legitimate government. The

ADDIS ABAB 00003048 004 OF 005

newly-minted and potentially effective US Strategy for
Engagement in Somalia offers the possibility of preserving
the Somalia TFG and containing the CIC, but time is not on
our side.

9. (C) The goal of pan-Somali nationalist Aweys is the
powerful idea of "Greater Somalia" that Siad Barre thought he
could create by invading Ethiopia. This invasion prolonged
the bloody DERG regime, left thousands homeless and dead and
was only resolved in Ethiopia's favor by the Soviet and Cuban
troops and equipment. If successful in defeating the TFG at
Baidoa, Aweys' forces will gain momentum; already daily
flights of men and equipment are pouring into Mogadishu for
an attack on Puntland and Somaliland in the expectation that
this will unite Somalia. At the same time, insurgents from
Oromiya (the OLF) and the Ogaden (the ONLF), backed by
Eritrea, will move east into Ethiopia. The ONLF intends to
break off Ethiopia's Somali region, uniting it with a Greater
Somali state. The OLF will either ensure that there is
regime change in Addis Ababa or separate Oromiya from
Ethiopia. In the end, Ethiopia's enemies -- most notably
Eritrea -- would be successful in breaking up Ethiopia and
ousting Meles. To the south, Kenya's northern provinces with
substantial Somali populations would be laid open to
subversion and eventual partition. Even CIC-friendly
Djibouti would come under pressure to exchange its moderate
Islam for a more radical posture. Admittedly, the above is
the worse case scenario. Undoubtedly, the CIC will meet
greater resistance as it attempts to govern different clans
within Somalia and conquer territories of neighboring states.
But even a best case scenario, should the CIC win at Baidoa,
gives the CIC and through it Al Qaeda a country of 10 million
people from whence it can attack moderate Muslim and
Christian countries, as well as Western interests, in Africa.
There should be no doubt about this, given that Somalia
harbors the terrorists who blew up our embassies in Nairobi
and Dar Es Salaam.


10. (SBU) What can be done in Somalia? Ethiopia is already
on the front lines. Although vilified and clearly out-gunned
by CIC propaganda, the GOE will not back down in defending
its national security. Meles told me that Ethiopia will
defend Baidoa to the end. If Ethiopia is successful -- and I
believe it will be -- then the CIC momentum will be broken.
An opportunity will arise to stop Somalia from being devoured
by the radical Islam. If we - and ideally our European
allies - seize the opportunity, we can begin to stabilize
Somalia under the TFG by providing advice, information and
support to Ethiopia. Most effective for Ethiopia would be
to have implicit approval of its support to the TFG through a
UNSC resolution lifting the arms embargo on the TFG and
authorizing the Ugandan IGASOM. If the battle for Baidoa --
or other conflict between anti-CIC forces and the CIC -- has
successfully taken place, IGASOM will still be necessary to
stabilize southern Somalia. At the same time, we and our
allies and the region must continue to strengthen governance
and development projects in all of Somalia while encouraging
the TFG to incorporate moderate elements of the CIC, thereby
marginalizing the radicals.

11. (SBU) At the same time, we will continue to press
Ethiopia to improve governance and human rights while
expanding opportunities for effective engagement of civil
society and opposition parties. I have met with Meles
biweekly on average and I have never had a meeting with him
in which I did not raise the issues of governance and human
rights. I have met with him numerous times to review
strategies for resolution of the Eritrea/Ethiopian border,
Somalia and internal governance, and never failed to suggest
solutions for the CUD detainees. As a result, I have been
able to visit the prisoners three times and am working with
concerned Ethiopians and Ethiopian-Americans on a process
that may lead to pardons. The point here is that Meles --
and the inner circle -- listen to our advice if it is given
in private and as a partner. Therefore I would suggest that

ADDIS ABAB 00003048 005 OF 005

we lay out a series of bench marks which can be used by
Washington to gauge Ethiopia's progress, as follows:

-- Parliament passes a media law and anti-terrorism laws that
meet international standards;
-- The opposition is consulted on the appointment of a new,
neutral National Electoral Board.
-- Parliament approves public financing for political parties;
-- GOE engages successfully with donors on the governance
-- The Government pursues the investigations recommended by
the Independent Inquiry Commission;
-- Offices of legal opposition parties that have not been
reopened are opened;
-- All legal parties are permitted to participate in the
Spring elections;
-- The judicial process is completed and a verdict determined
for all CUD detainees;
-- If found guilty, CUD detainees who agree not to engage in
illegal activities or civil disobedience are pardoned;
-- Preparations for local elections are done in consultation
with the opposition; and
-- Local elections are successfully held.

12. (SBU) The almost rosy scenario on Somalia has a much
better chance of success if we are ready to cement a full
partnership with Ethiopia, because it is only Ethiopia that
now blocks a radical Islamist state from rising in the Horn
of Africa. If we fail to act, we will be the losers. But if
we are working with the government and the opposition to
achieve the benchmarks laid out above, Ethiopians will have a
real chance of a prosperous and democratic future. The
American people care about Africa. They want to see improved
human rights and more freedom for Africa's citizens. They
also recognize that this can not be achieved if African
states are warring against each other or being overrun by
extremist forces financed and supported from abroad. When
the war comes - as it will -- we can best help Ethiopian
democracy if we are a firm and reliable partner. It is time
to stop hating Ethiopia -- the trend is in the right
direction and the danger is great.

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