Passed to the Telegraph by WikiLeaks
Ref ID: 09TRIPOLI554
Date: 7/12/2009 15:02
Origin: Embassy Tripoli
Header: VZCZCXRO5101PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRNDE RUEHTRO #0554/01 1931502ZNY CCCCC ZZHP 121502Z JUL 09FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLITO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5009INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVERUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1070RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0746RUEHAE/AMEMBASSY ASMARA 0065RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDCRHMFISS/CJTF HOARHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DCRHMFISS/CDR USAFRICOM STUTTGART GERHMFISS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DCRHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DCRUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DCRUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY 0169RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0184RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 5547
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000554 SIPDIS STATE FOR AF/FO, AF/E AND AF/RSA E.O. 12958: DECL: 7/12/2019 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, ER, SO, AU-1, LY SUBJECT: AU SUMMIT: ERITREA DEFENDS SOMALIA POLICY TRIPOLI 00000554 001.2 OF 002 CLASSIFIED BY: Gene A. Cretz, Ambassador, US Embassy Tripoli, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 1.(C) Summary: Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson met Eritrean ruling party Political Chief Yemane Ghebreab and Foreign Minister (FM) Osman Saleh on the margins of the African Union (AU) Summit in Sirte, Libya July 2 to discuss the crisis in Somalia and waning prospects for renewed reinvigorated bilateral relationship between the United States and Eritrea. Carson charged the Government of Eritrea (GSE) with providing financial and logistical assistance to al-Shabaab, playing a spoiler role in Somalia, and using Somalia as a battlefield for its proxy war with Ethiopia. He said the United States is reaching out to Eritrea, but warned Eritrea’s top officials that GSE’s current path will lead to further international isolation and possible sanctions. Yemane denied providing assistance to al-Shabaab and claimed their issues with Ethiopia are separate from the situation in Somalia. End Summary.
RESPONSE TO GSE’S ONGOING DENIALS ———————————
2.(C) A/S Carson opened the meeting by expressing USG’s desire to improve the bilateral relationship with the GSE and urged Eritrea to stop immediately from playing a spoiler role in Somalia by proving financial and logistical assistance to al-Shabaab.
3.(C) Yemane welcomed Carson’s offer for a renewed relationship and said it is long overdue. He then firmly denied providing support to al-Shabaab and said the GSE is playing a constructive role in Somalia. In response, A/S Carson stated, “We categorically reject that you are innocent and believe you are the supplier of resources going into the hands of al-Shabaab.” He directly linked Eritrea to al-Shabaab’s success in Somalia, and called on Eritrea to cease supporting violent extremists, not only in perception but in reality, if a reinvigorated and positive bilateral relationship with the U.S. is truly a priority for the GSE. “The choice is yours. The only thing we can do is encourage you to do the right thing,” Carson added. In response, Yemane and FM Osman Saleh continued Eritrea’s longstanding denial of GSE support of al-Shabaab. The FM further retorted that linking Eritrea to al-Shaabab is unacceptable.
PROXY WAR WITH ETHIOPIA ———————–
4.(C) A/S Carson detailed the USG position in support of the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Djibouti peace process. He noted that the GSE appears to be supporting al-Shabaab not because Eritrea is pro-extremist but because it is fighting a proxy war with Ethiopia. The GSE officials stressed their issues with Ethiopia are separate from the situation in Somalia and accused A/S Carson of recycling the same language as Ethiopia by referring to Eritrea as a spoiler.
GSE’s POSITION ON SOMALIA ————————-
5. (C) Yemane defined the GSE’s objective as creating a strong, unified Somali state, then faulted Ethiopia for dividing Somalia. Yemane insisted the only way forward was to establish an all-inclusive (including Somaliland and Puntland), Somali-driven dialogue supported by the international community. He asserted that all other methods have failed. Yemane criticized the Djibouti talks for not allowing other Somali political players to accompany TFG President Sheikh Sharif to the meetings. By lending its support to Sheikh Sharif, he claimed the international community was sending the wrong message. This message, he stated, encouraged Sheikh Sharif to pursue a military option rather than negotiate with opposition. Yemane called AMISOM a “weak peacekeeping force” that will not succeed without the support of all protagonists in Somalia. A/S Carson rejected Yemane’s analysis, accused the Eritreans of not supporting a more inclusive Somali process and challenged the GSE to help build an all-inclusive dialogue within the TFG framework.
US DIALOGUE ATTEMPTS REBUFFED BY GSE ———————————— TRIPOLI 00000554 002.2 OF 002
6.(C) When Yemane expressed GSE’s interest in sending a delegation to the U.S. to discuss bilateral relations, A/S Carson pointed out that recent USG attempts to engage Eritrea were rebuffed by the GSE. Secretary Clinton’s effort to reach out to Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki in a June telephone call was met with no response from Isaias’ office and the Eritrean Embassy in Washington refused to issue A/S Carson a visa for his proposed trip to Asmara to meet with Isaias, Carson continued. Yemane denied that A/S Carson’s visa had been rejected, claiming instead that it was only “not yet approved.” Yemane said before such a call by the Secretary or visit by Carson could take place, the GSE believes that working level meetings must occur to discuss Somalia and lay the groundwork for an improved bilateral relationship.
7.(C) Carson closed the meeting by encouraging the GSE to speak out against al-Shabaab, end its support for Somali extremists and move forward with constructive actions. Yemane replied, “We will be constructive. Regardless of our relationship with the United States, Somalia is very important to us and we will work toward a peaceful solution.”
8.(U) A/S Carson has approved this message. CRETZ