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Cablegate: Chad/Sudan: Masalit Restiveness

VZCZCXRO8608
RR RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHNJ #0474 1581332
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 071332Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5362
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 0415

UNCLAS NDJAMENA 000474

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM CD SU
SUBJECT: CHAD/SUDAN: MASALIT RESTIVENESS

1. (SBU) Summary: A new Darfur rebel group is being formed
composed of Masalit who object to control by Zaghawans,
whether Chadian or Darfurian. The group may not get off the
ground, but its formation is indicative of the splintering
trend among the Darfur rebels and dissatisfaction among
Masalit. End summary.

2. Djabadine Hissein, a Sudanese Masalit resident off and on
for many years in Ndjamena, called on poloff June 6. He said
that the Masalit (concentrated in West Darfur although
Djabadine himself comes from south of Khartoum, where a
significant Masalit population migrated decades ago) were fed
up with their secondary role in the Darfur rebellion. He
said that the Masalit had not had a significant role in the
instigation of the Darfur rebellion and now had only a few
significant leaders in the rebel movements. But, he said, a
disproportionate number of the rebel fighters (most of them,
he claimed) had been Masalit since the beginning of the
conflict. He said he was part of a group of Masalit who are
forming a new faction which hoped to give the Masalit a
leadership role in the rebellion commensurate with their
fighting role.

3. According to Djabadine, the new Masalit faction -- which
as yet has taken no specific name -- is being spearheaded by
Abderrahman Ibrahim Shigaf and al-Sadiq al-Karim. The former
is a cousin of the Masalit sultan Sa'd Bahr al-Din (who, he
said, is a lackey of the Sudanese government). The latter is
to be the new group's military leader. Djabadine is the No.
3, or secretary general. He claims that the group has
widespread Masalit support but no backing from any external
party (e.g., Islamists, Libya, Eritrea, or Chad) other than
Masalit expatriates. They want to continue the rebellion, do
not want to add to disunity among the rebels, but insist that
the Masalit, who do most of the fighting, must no longer be
dominated by "nomads" -- whether Darfurian Zaghawans or the
Chadian Zaghawan regime or Arabs.

4. Djabadine said that the two significant Masalit rebel
leaders -- Khamis Abdulla and Ibrahim Yahya -- are
discredited among the Masalit, and they will probably not be
part of the new group. Ibrahim Yahya was, heretofore, the
only Masalit in the JEM leadership, but he split from Khalil
Ibrahim in recent days. Dajabine said that he was in active
contact with Ibrahim Yahya, but because the latter is an
Islamist and Turabist, like Khalil Ibrahim, he does not trust
him. The new Masalit faction is anti-Islamist.

5. As for Khamis Abulla, who has been a leader in the
nonsignatory SLA since the SLA split up in the wake of the
Abuja accord in May 2006, he has become a non-factor.
Djabadine said that Khamis Abdulla has alienated the mass of
the Masalit populace. The reason is that President Deby has
used the Masalit fighters under Khamis Abdulla as a force to
attack Chadian rebels. The new Masalit faction is, he said,
determined to avoid distracting the rebellion from its real
objective and being manipulated by the Chadian Zaghawan
regime. However, Djabadine claimed, Khamis Abdulla is now
also discredited in Deby's eyes, after his visit last month
to Ndjamena, and he has "fled" to Eritrea. Meanwhile, the
new faction is also finding it tough to cope in Ndjamena and
is looking around to set up in a new country, perhaps
temporarily Tanzania.

6. Note on Djabadine Hissein: Aged 57, he claims to be a
former Sudanese military officer and to have fled Sudan in
1975 for Chad. He says he was close to former Chadian
President Goukouni Weddeye and to have participated in Deby's
ouster of Habre. Deby's half-brother Daoussa used him, for a
time, for sensitive missions related to Sudan, most recently
in 1997 to see Hasan al-Turabi in Khartoum to discuss an SPLA
plan to destabilize Chad due to Deby's then-closeness to the
Sudanese regime. (The mission, he says, was thwarted by
Turabi's close associates and then-senior Sudanese officials
Jabir and Khalil Ibrahim, the latter of whom is now head of
JEM.) Djabadine said that he has been largely inactive ever
since, operating "under the radar" mostly in Ndjamena.

7. Comment: This new faction may be nothing more than a
pipe dream in the eyes of a handful of Masalit milling around
Ndjamena. But mounting disaffection among the Masalit seems
plausible enough. And this overture to us, laying out a new,
ethnic-based faction, is one further sign of mounting
disunity among the Darfur rebels.
WALL

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