Under Secretary For Democracy And Global Affairs Maria Otero’s January 31, 2010, Meeting With The Tfg President

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¶1. (C) Summary: Under Secretary for Democracy and Global
Affairs Maria Otero and Assistant Secretary for African
Affairs Johnnie Carson, in a January 31 meeting with
Transitional Federal Government (TFG) President Sheikh Sharif
on the margins of the AU Summit underscored continued USG
support but urged Sharif to broaden his government’s base,
deliver services to the Somali people, and work with AMISOM
to bolster the TFG’s position on the ground. President Sharif
thanked the USG for its support and, while admitting that
2009 had been a difficult debut year for his government,
noted that the TFG had survived and had even recorded some
modest achievements. Among them, he said, was the re-opening
of the Central Bank of Somalia, expanded broadcasting by
Radio Mogadishu, progress on reform of the armed forces, and,
most recently, a contract to mint a new Somali currency.

¶2. (C) Summary continued: Sharif indicated that the TFG had
intensified its efforts at outreach. The Minister for
National Security was currently in Galkayo in an effort to
mobilize troops and create a base for upcoming operations.
The Ministers of Telecommunications and Finance were managing
the TFG’s ongoing efforts to reach out to Ahlu Sunnah Wal
Jama’a (ASWJ). Sharif predicted that efforts to reform TFG
security forces in Mogadishu, TFG outreach to ASWJ, and
troops trained by Kenya and Ethiopia would coalesce into a
comprehensive effort to push al-Shabaab out of south central
Somalia. Needed, Sharif said, were ammunition, weapons,
medical supplies, and communication equipment.

¶3. (C) Summary continued: In response to a question from A/S
Carson, Sharif indicated qualified support for Kenya’s
“Jubaland initiative.” He had told the Kenyans that the TFG
did not want to see an effort that would divide Somalia into
two parts or “create more problems that it solves.” Sharif
had been told that the estimated two thousand ethnic Somali
troops were being well-trained by Kenya and that more than
the Marehan and Ogaden clans were represented. End summary.

A/S Carson Underlines USG Support, but Urges TFG Action
——————————————— ———-

¶4. (C) Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria
Otero and Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie
Carson opened a January 31 meeting with TFG President Sheikh
Sharif Sheikh Ahmed on the margins of the AU Summit in Addis
Ababa by reiterating strong USG support for both the TFG and
the AMISOM units that protect the TFG in Mogadishu. A/S
Carson also passed USG condolences on the deaths of three TFG
ministers and of numerous faculty and students of Banadir
University in the December 3, 2009, Mogadishu suicide bombing.

¶5. (C) While noting that he knew the TFG was already engaged
in regional outreach efforts, A/S Carson urged that the
government more quickly broaden its base, especially with
ASWJ. He urged Sharif to pressure members of Parliament to
expand the reach of the TFG in their home regions. A/S
Carson applauded the TFG’s success in expanding and improving
broadcasting by Radio Mogadishu and urged the TFG to continue
to enhance its media efforts. The government also had to
deliver services, A/S Carson noted. The funding of health
clinics and of schools was needed in order to build public
support. The USG, A/S Carson noted later in the
conversation, was prepared to put “dollars in your hands for
service delivery, especially for education and health.” “A
government that provides services to its people is respected
and has its peoples’ support,” A/S Carson said.

Rallying International Support for the TFG

¶6. (C) A/S Carson indicated that the USG would continue to
support efforts to train TFG troops. He asked Sharif to push
the Europeans to make good on their 2009 Brussels
International Contact Group meeting pledges and reported that
the USG was urging the Arab League to meet its commitments as

¶7. (C) A/S Carson told Sharif that he had had a good session
with UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn
Pascoe during the AU Summit about how to help the AU meet
AMISOM’s eight thousand troop ceiling.

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Much Learned and Some Modest Successes

During TFG’s First Year in Office

¶8. (C) Sharif thanked the USG for its support and told A/S
Carson that the USG shared credit for his government’s modest
successes in 2009. His first year in office had been
“difficult,” but the government had learned much and the
stage was set for a more successful second year in office.
Among the TFG’s successes was that it had survived in the
face of terrorism, lawlessness, inertia, greed, and foreign

¶9. (C) Sharif highlighted other successes: there had been
modest, but positive changes in the TFG’s leadership; TFG
forces had been trained in neighboring countries, Radio
Mogadishu was making steady progress in the propaganda war;
the Central Bank of Somalia was open and functioning; the
Somali people were convinced that al-Shabaab was not working
in the best interests of the government; and Sudan’s
agreement to fund the printing of a new Somali shilling would
ultimately allow the TFG to gain control of its currency. In
cooperation with local businessmen, the TFG had made modest
improvements at the Mogadishu port, the Mogadishu airport,
and was in the process of physically buttressing the
parliament building.

¶10. (C) Sharif reassured A/S Carson that the TFG had a
vigorous strategy for the regions. The TFG’s Minister of
National Security was currently in Galkayo (Mudug region) in
order to mobilize Somalis and build a base for upcoming
operations against al-Shabaab. TFG military officers were
near el-Bur (Galgaduud region), where they were working with
ASWJ. The Deputy Prime Minister/Finance Minister and the
Minister of Telecommunications were responsible for the TFG’s
efforts with ASWJ and they were having some success.

¶11. (C) Sharif said that USG support was needed for the TFG’s
planned military campaign. An AMISOM-backed TFG offensive in
Mogadishu would be complemented by ASWJ-led efforts in Hiraan
and Galgaduud regions, as well as the entry into battle of
troops currently being trained by Kenya. The TFG needed
ammunition, weapons, medical supplies, and communications
equipment in order to launch its offensive, Sharif said. All
regions had been contacted and were mobilizing elders and
women’s groups. In addition to weapons and ammunition, local
militias needed food and pocket money. There was a severe
shortage of transport for the troops, as well as of medicine.
Sharif said that he was thinking of visiting the U.S. “after
the military operations have succeeded.”

Qualified “Yes” on Kenya’s

Lower Juba Initiative

¶12. (C) Sharif offered a qualified “yes” when asked if he
supported the GOK’s Lower Juba initiative. He had told the
GOK that the TFG did not want to see Somalia further divided.
That would create more problems than it would solve, he
added. The GOK had reassured the TFG that it also did not
want to see Somalia divided and that it intended to use the
troops now being trained in Kenya for a national not a
regional mission.

¶13. (C) Sharif believed that the ethnic Somali troops
currently in Isiolo, Kenya, were receiving good training but
did not have all of the equipment they needed. Sharif thought
that perhaps the USG could assist the Kenyan effort. He
concluded by noting that the enemy the TFG faced was global
and that defeating it should not be on the shoulders of the
TFG alone.

¶14. (C) A/S Carson hoped that the planned TFG offensive would
be successful. He said that he would confer with the
Ugandans about providing additional material resources. He
urged the TFG to suggest ideas for community support and
service delivery to USAID. USAID Acting Assistant
Administrator for Africa Earl Gast seconded AID’s willingness
to work with the government in providing community services
and briefly previewed an upcoming contract with IOM that
could support the TFG’s efforts.


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¶15. (C) As he has in other, recent meetings, Sharif appeared
self-possessed and confident. His qualified willingness to
support the long-incubated Kenyan Lower Juba initiative at
this meeting was at variance with the skepticism he had
expressed to Somalia Unit in Nairobi about two weeks ago
(septel). At that time, he suggested that the troops in
training at Isiolo did not have broad-based clan
representation and speculated that it might be better to
bring them to Mogadishu and integrate them into existing TFG
security forces. He also in that meeting seemed more
skeptical of the GOK’s ability to manage a cross-border


¶16. (U) USG:

Undersecretary for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otiero
Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson
NSC Senior Director for African Affairs Michhelle Gavin
Ambassador to the African Union Michael Battle
Charge d’affaires, Embassy Addis Ababa John Yates
USAID Acting Assistant Administrator for Africa Gast
Counselor for Somalia Affairs, Embassy Nairobi Patterson

Somalia Transitional Federal Government:

President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed
Deputy Prime Minister Sharif Hassan
Minister of Telecommunications Abdirizak Osman “Jirile”
President’s Chief-of-Staff, Abdulkareem Jama (interpreter)
Member of Parliament Amina Mursal