Cablegate: Chad: Meeting with Ahmed Diraij

DE RUEHNJ #0258/01 0851232
R 261232Z MAR 07





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Summary. Sudan Federal Democratic Alliance (SFDA)
leader Ahmed Diraij shared his impressions of diplomatic
moves and countermoves by Chad, Sudan and Eritrea relative to
the Darfur conflict with the Ambassador March 21. He
expected continuing jockeying for position in the week ahead
among rebel leaders Adam Bakheit, Sharif Hariri and Abdul
Shafi. If all went according to plan, Chad President Idriss
Deby would meet shortly with Sudan rebels in Abeche and the
SLM would declare its new leadership. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Sudan Federal Democratic Alliance (SFDA) leader
Ahmed Diraij met with the Ambassador March 21 for a tour
d,horizon of Diraij,s political career as an advocate for
the Darfur region and his thoughts on the current leadership
impasse among rebel groups. Although Diraij emphasized that
his movement did not advocate taking up arms to resolve the
Darfur crisis, he counted himself among those which
emphatically rejected the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA).
According to Diraij, the DPA was flawed because it did not
end the marginalization of the Darfur region; it had
certainly not created the conditions which would allow the
over three million Sudanese IDPs in Sudan, and over 200,000
Sudanese refugees in Chad to return to their homes. Diraij
stated that DPA had foundered because the agreement reached
in Abuja was not consistent with the Declaration of
Principles. He argued for returning to the agenda that had
been agreed upon by the Government of Chad and the rebels.
Ultimately, the test of the success of any agreement would be
the return of Sudanese refugees and IDPs to their homes.

3. (SBU) Turning to the current diplomatic moves between
Chad, Sudan and Eritrea, Diraij welcomed the fact that the
international community now recognized that work was needed
to bring negotiators back to the table. The Eritreans had
been given the nod by the Government of Sudan to mediate.
(He commented that, for their part, the Eritreans were keen
to improve their relations with the Government of Sudan,
which was harboring Eritrean opposition movements). The
Eritreans had realized that they needed to bring Chad on
board because of the movement,s connections with Chad.
Concerning Libya,s role, the Tripoli meeting had been
designed to first convince President Deby, then the rebel
movements, and then to kick off the mediation

4. (SBU) Diraij said that the Sudanese rebels under the
National Redemption Front (NRF) remain united, but there are
internal divisions inside the Sudan Liberation Movement
(SLM). Diraij said he was &comfortable8 with the mission
and the declaration of principles of the NRF. But agreements
must be made to determine leadership and decide on a common
message for a strong negotiating position. To strengthen the
position of the NRF, Diraij asked for USG and international
assistance for communications support, such as radios and
newspapers. Sudanese rebel groups will wield more influence
and a better bargaining position, Diraij said, if they had
more military muscle. He added, &If you want peace, prepare
for war.8

5. (SBU) Diraij repeatedly emphasized the importance of the
movements finding a common stand. He stated that in his
meetings with Government of National Unity (GNU) Vice
President Salva Kiir in N,djamena, the latter had stressed
to him the importance of unity. The movements &trust him,8
Diraij stated. He said the SLM was currently in the field
working on leadership issues. Field commanders were to
organize and decide on a new leader ) most likely Abdel
Shafi. But it turned out that there was a larger contest for
the SLM's leadership ) it could in fact be that either Adam
Bakheit, or Sharif Hariri could come out on top. A meeting
was projected for later in the week in Abeche and President
Deby would be present. In addition, Diraij informed the
Ambassador of plans for a conference for Darfur leaders in
the southern provincial capital of Juba (in question is the
conference attendees and date, see reftel). In addition,
Eritrea wanted to bring the movements to Asmara for a meeting
with EU negotiator Pekka Haavisto.

6. (SBU) Diraij commented that Justice and Equality Leader
Khalil Ibrahim was a &difficult8 person, and was
embarrassing the Chadians by moving around Chad with large
numbers of armed troops. According to Diraij, Khalil Ibrahim
did not agree to meet with Salva Kiir.

7. (SBU) In conclusion, Diraij commented that Libya, Chad
and Eritrea all had interests in the Darfur crisis, but at
the same time, all wanted peace. He commented that if these
countries could be manipulated in the right way, peace would
return - and - more importantly for the livelihoods of those

NDJAMENA 00000258 002 OF 002

in Darfur and in countries bordering Sudan (in particular,
Eritrea), trade would be reestablished.

8. (SBU) Diraij's day to day involvement in the leadership
struggles of the leading rebel movements is not clear. He
stated himself that he would like to be the "Nelson Mandela"
of Darfur and had no leadership ambitions other than to
assist Darfur escape its impoverished and marginalized state.

9. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.

© Scoop Media

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