|KASSIM AND KISSINGER: A MEETING OF EQUALS.|
|Written by Administrator|
|Friday, 27 July 2012 15:02|
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KASSIM AND KISSINGER: A MEETING OF EQUALS.
When Hussein Abdulkadir Kassim, former Somali Minister of Minerals and Water Resources met Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of State in October 1976, it was a meeting of equals. This is a reflection of the strength and power of Somalia's foreign policy in the 1970s where it was never intimidated by a superpower like the US. In this conversation, Kissinger complains alot about Somalia's tough stance on international issues, saying that the Somali government always acted in opposition to the US.
He describes Somalis as "rough" having "tough internal politics" and "hostile" to the US giving the impression that Somalia in those days played "hard ball" when it came to its relations with the US. While US's Secretaries of State are inherently bullies, Kissinger in this case was particularly respectful when addressing Kassim and his delegation. This is the reception proud leaders of any nation receive when dealing with powerful nations. That was the great and powerful Somalia of the 1970s. Today, Somalia's leaders are pushed around and humiliated by junior UN officials. How times have changed.
This is a declassified document. A very interesting read that would make any Somali proud.
Read and Reflect.
165. Memorandum of Conversation, New York, October 8, 1976, 3:45 p.m1
New York, October 8, 1976, 3:45 p.m.
MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATION
Hussien Abdulkadir Kassim, Minister of Mineral and Water Resources
Ambassador Abudllahi Adu Addou (DC)
Abdurahman Jama Barre, Director General, MFA
Mohamed Mohamud, Counselor
Under Secretary Habib
Acting Assistant Secretary SEELYE
Frank Wisner (Notetaker)
DATE: October 8, 1976
TIME: 3:45 p.m.
PLACE: Secretary's apartment at the Waldorf-Astoria, New York
KISSINGER: What does "Acting Foreign Minister" mean?
KASSIM: I am the Minister for Minerals and Water, but I have represented the Government at a number of international conferences.
ADDOU: He is the de facto Foreign Minister.
KISSINGER: How long have you been in New York?
KASSIM: Over two weeks. In a few days I will return home, but I may not go straight back. I may stop en route.
KISSINGER: It sounds like you have already made your mind up to stop.
KASSIM: I try to take care of the interests of my country and do so without fanfare.
KISSINGER: For a medium-sized country, you make a lot of news.
KASSIM: It all depends on the way the wind blows. Is it we who make the news or others who create conditions that force us to act?
KISSINGER: You should see me when I am trying to make news.
ADDOU: With the press following you so closely, you always make news.
KISSINGER: What is the state of our relations?
KASSIM: I would like to comment on that. I believe there is room for improvement.
KISSINGER: I agree with you.
KASSIM: Yes, there is room for improvement. You made a good point during your toast at lunch. You are learning about Africa.
KISSINGER: I have learned a lot from watching African politics. You Somalis are rough. I do not mean that as a criticism, but you play tough internal politics.
KASSIM: We speak our hearts and minds.
KISSINGER: I don't believe that the African states as a group are hostile, but if you look at the actions of the Somali Government, you can hardly judge them to be nonaligned. On almost every international issue you oppose us. We can't be wrong all the time. The law of averages does not work that way.
KASSIM: From our point of view, Somalia and the United States should have relations which are devoid of hostile feelings. On specific questions or policies, a matter of judgment enters in and not all our expressions are hostile. Had you not felt hostility, we would not have reacted. We believe we are non-aligned.
KISSINGER: We are not against non-alignment. Every African state is non-aligned except possibly for Angola. Fifteen thousand foreign troops present a powerful argument for taking sides. While you say there is no hostility on the part of Somalia, you disagree with us regularly and sometimes you work against us.
KASSIM: That is not an unfair picture but it is an incomplete one. We follow the actions of the United States as they affect us and our region. For us the existence of the Somali nation is at stake. Your actions have not always indicated neutrality.
KISSINGER: Would you give me an example?
KASSIM: Somalia has had an unfortunate colonial past. Even before Somalia became independent, you had pacts with Ethiopia. We have seen arms flow to Ethiopia which we believe to be detrimental to the good relations between Somalia and Ethiopia. We believe our relations can be improved, but the arms you send and the propaganda you make do not help. We saw the statement by your Secretary of Defense.
KISSINGER: Why do we think that you have more military equipment than Ethiopia?
KASSIM: That is wrong. Ethiopia has more strength than we do. You force us to build up. We do not see you playing a role in finding a solution.
KISSINGER: You want a part of Ethiopia.
KASSIM: No, we want freedom for the part of Ethiopia which belongs to our people.
KISSINGER: Is that part of Ethiopia inhabited by Somalis and when did it join Ethiopia?
KASSIM: The Ethiopians took the southern portion of their country which was inhabited exclusively by Somalis in 1884. Until 1960 Ethiopians were present in small administrative and military groups. Now they have reinforced their control and the situation is different.
KISSINGER: So you will be hostile until you obtain the rest of your territory.
KASSIM: The other way around. We do not renounce the rights of our people and our nation. We suffer from a colonial situation.
KISSINGER: There are Somalis in northern Kenya. Do you claim Kenyan territory as well?
KASSIM: That is an historical fact. The British Government organized a Province in 1963 for what they called the Northern Frontier Province. It had always been administered separately from the rest of Kenya. Eighty-six percent of the population voted to join Somalia. But the British decided otherwise, and might made right. We do not blame Kenya because the solution was imposed by a colonial power. We blame Ethiopia more since Ethiopia's act was a deliberate one of colonialism. We have Ethiopian documents proving the point. When the European nations began scrambling for territory in Africa, Menelik II wrote to the colonial powers and said "We also want to get our part.” Ethiopia almost overran us in its agression in 1963 and 1964. Had outside powers not intervened, disaster would have befallen both parties.
KISSINGER: There is little we can do about history but as you know, Ethiopia's relations with us are not excessively intimate. Can you figure out what is going on in Ethiopia?
KASSIM: We are closer and have a better understanding. There are pressures working there. We cannot cover every subject in this meeting. We would prefer to talk about the present. We want you to listen to us and we want to listen to you. The cause of unhappy relations between the United States and Somalia stems from our serious national problems. We want peaceful solutions to these problems. Even before our revolution in 1969, we had sought an understanding with Ethiopia. Our President has met with Ethiopian leaders to promote an atmoshpere of understanding and one in which just solutions can be found. There has never been a positive response. These matters are so important to Somalia that we cannot denounce our rights but we will not behave beligerently. We will not take advantage of Ethiopia's weakness. We seek to develop our nation and our region. We do not want war, especially with near kinsman like the Ethiopians. We have made overtures of goodwill to Kenya within the context of African understanding. Perhaps a day will come when these problems will be solved. With respect to our relations, the role of your government is decisive. You should seek peace, security, stability, and the promotion of understanding. We know you have provided assistance to other African countries. We believe assistance should go to development and not to arms.
KISSINGER: We suffer under the impression that you are better armed than Ethiopia. Perhaps our intelligence is wrong, but we see you getting large quantities of Soviet arms.
KASSIM: We were invaded in 1963 and 1964. Ethiopia has traditionally enjoyed superiority both in hardware and the size of its army. You misunderstand our situation.
KISSINGER: I will take another look at our intelligence.
KASSIM: We believe there is a role for you to play. We are aware of your history and your principles. We don't understand your hostile attitude towards a small state. Look what you did during our drought.
KISSINGER: Talcott, what did we do?
SEELYE: We provided assistance.
KASSIM: Yes, but you said we had a Soviet base and we invited observers to come and see for themselves.
KISSINGER: That is right. And all of them came to the same conclusion—even those who were opposed at the outset. They left convinced that you had a Soviet base.
KASSIM: Do you believe that?
KISSINGER: I believe we can survive a Soviet base on Somalian territory, but I guess it depends on how you define a base. If you define a base as a place where military personnel are stationed and service military equipment, that is a base. In the Philippines, after we sign our new agreement, the Philippine flag will fly over American bases, but we do not deny that we have bases.
KASSIM: You need to know more about the nature of our people. We will never permit a foreign base. We have no bases or facilities. We have seen pictures from your satellites and know that you said we had missiles. We checked your allegation and found what you called a missile was in fact a minaret of a Mosque.
KISSINGER: Perhaps you are tricky and hide missiles in minarets.
KASSIM: We opened the Mosque for your observers to visit. We do not have the money to buy missiles.
KISSINGER: We don't believe they are your missiles. But let us get off this. We feel no hostility towards Somalia. Nevertheless, we find in every international forum you oppose us. You opposed our initiative in southern Africa. Somalia is in the forefront of those harassing us and we are working for peace and in close cooperation with Front Line Presidents. We are prepared to improve our relations and don't object to your territorial claims as long as you do not seek to use force in settling your disputes.
KASSIM: There is reason to improve our relations, and there may be an opportunity to do so. We need to be clear about each other's positions. We lack consultations. U.S. neutrality is not enough. We want you to play an active role in solving our problems.
KISSINGER: I will take a look at the question of the military balance. We have no reason to take sides in your relations with the Ethiopians.
KASSIM: If you are prepared to adopt a neutralposture, why don't you help contribute to peace?
KISSINGER: If I became involved in any more African problems I will lose my sanity. I will think about it.
KASSIM: We look for a change in your attitude.
KISSINGER: What can we do?
KASSIM: Bluntly, you can cause the bullet to be dislodged from the gun. We believe you should reconsider your strategy in East Africa.
KISSINGER: Would you stop military equipment coming from the Soviet Union if we stop deliveries to Ethiopia?
KASSIM: We are not receiving military equipment from the Soviet Union as you think. We are trying to build an army to defend our frontiers which are very long. In 1964 we were attacked and were without defense. If one party receives arms and we do not, the situation becomes dangerous.
KISSINGER: If we don't send arms to Ethiopia and you continue to get them from the Soviet Union there may be a war.
KASSIM: But you have given $200 million in military equipment to Ethiopia.
KISSINGER: That's impossible. We have only given $60 million to all of Africa.
KASSIM: Ethiopia has ten divisions. We only have two. When you ask us to stop, what do you mean? Future arms deliveries or present deliveries?
KISSINGER: Talcott, how much are we giving Ethiopia?
SEELYE: $10 million to $20 million this year.
KASSIM: I stick to my version. We know you are giving $200 million.
KISSINGER: This is insane.
HABIB: Perhaps if you count deliveries over past years some figure like the one the Minister mentions might be the case.
KISSINGER: We have no reason to lie to you; we tell you what is true.
KASSIM: We would appreciate the information.
KISSINGER: It is all in the public record. Such information is easy to obtain.
KASSIM: Such large grants fuel tensions.
KISSINGER: I think you are wrong.
KASSIM: Let's hope I am wrong.
KISSINGER: Can you give me an idea of what we should do—concretely?
KASSIM: Yes, We look forward to an attitude of American goodwill toward Somalia and we will respond. Once suspicion is dispelled, we can move to develop cooperation in other areas.
KISSINGER: How can we dispell suspicion?
KASSIM: By stopping your military equipment.
KISSINGER: Do you act as Foreign Minister in Somalia?
KASSIM: I help the President and the Foreign Ministry.
KISSINGER: I will ask our Ambassador to have a general talk on how we can improve our relations. Let's see where this takes us. Who should we talk to?
ADDOU: You should talk to Dr. Adburahman. He comes from the Foreign Ministry.
SEELYE: Our Ambassador has had trouble in making appointments.
ADDOU: That is not correct. Your Ambassador has full access. Just like you, our people are busy. Sometimes he has to wait three or four days, but so do all Ambassadors.
KISSINGER: I will ask our Ambassador to get together with you and begin a general exchange of views. I want to thank you. We feel no hostility and you have nothing we want but we have the impression you systematically oppose us.
1 Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Policy File, 1976, P820118-1722. Secret; Nodis. The meeting took place in the Secretary's apartment at the Waldorf-Astoria. Kissinger was in New York for a meeting of the UN General Assembly