S E C R E T ADDIS ABABA 001326
DEPARTMENT FOR AF DAS YAMAMOTO, AF/E, AND CA/OCS/ACS
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/12/2016
TAGS: MOPS CASC PREL ET KN
SUBJECT: ETHIOPIA: GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES MILITARY OFFENSIVE
Classified By: Charge Vicki Huddleston for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
Â¶1. (S/NF) SUMMARY. Two senior Ethiopian General officers
told DATT May 9 and May 11 that Ethiopian National Defense
Forces (ENDF) have begun an offensive aimed at neutralizing
Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) in the Somali region.
The Ministry of National Defense advised that Combined Joint
Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) civil affairs teams
should restrict their movement to the towns of Gode and Kebri
Dehar. END SUMMARY.
Â¶2. (S/NF) LTG Samora did not reveal what triggered the
operation, CJTF-HOA Commander Rear Admiral Richard Hunt and
embassy RSO offered two possibilities in a May 10 meeting.
However, ENDF Head of Operations Main Department said this is
part of the larger ENDF effort to crush the various
insurgencies in Ethiopia. Hunt told Ambassador Huddleston
that he had received reports of abnormal ONLF troop buildup
and increased movement of weapons from Eritrea to the Ogaden
region. According to Admiral Hunt, this may have contributed,
at least in part, to the ENDF's increased military posture in
the region. Embassy RSO noted that China and possibly
Malaysia were expected to commence drilling for natural gas
shortly, and that the ENDF may be increasing its presence in
Ogaden to protect the companies' assets and personnel against
ONLF attacks. (Note: ONLF issued a statement April 24
warning foreign firms not to work in the region and announced
that the armed conflict between the ENDF and ONLF forces
created an unsafe environment for any exploration to occur.
End Note.) The ENDF conducts continuous counter insurgency
operations against the ONLF in the Somali region.
Â¶3. (C) The CJTF-HOA civil affairs teams have not deployed out
of CJTF-HOA in Djibouti and the other team located in Gode
will not move outside the town. Embassy has convened an
emergency action committee meeting to assess the impact of
increased military activity in the Ogaden region and, as a
result, all Americans will be advised to avoid travel in the
zone where the operations are taking place. A travel warning
for this zone will be issued May 12.