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Cablegate: Rizeigat: We Can Either Be with You...Or Against You

VZCZCXRO3694
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHGI RUEHKUK RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1567/01 2811348
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 081348Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8745
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001567

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR A/S FRAZER, AF/SPG, AF/SE NATSIOS, NEA/MAG
NSC FOR PITTMAN AND HUDSON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO AU SU UN
SUBJECT: RIZEIGAT: WE CAN EITHER BE WITH YOU...OR AGAINST YOU

REFTEL: KHARTOUM 1548

1. (SBU) Summary: In an October 8 meeting with CDA Fernandez, Abd
al-Raheem Hamdan Dagalo, a son of the notorious and influential
Rizeigat umda Juma Dagalo, described the marginalization of the Arab
tribes in Darfur as worse than that of those in IDP camps. The Arab
tribes were an integral part of peace in Darfur, but would insist on
their rights being met in any future agreement. Much of the blame
for the problems in Darfur are the fault of the larcenous Zaghawa
tribe and not the noble Arab tribes or meek and industrious Fur and
other farmers. The recent history of broken promises by the Sudanese
government had soured an already fragile alliance, he said, but the
Arab tribes would align with the side that best protected their
interests. They were open to realignment with either the Fur or the
Americans or both. According to Dagalo, Arab tribes in Darfur were
manipulated by Khartoum and wary of any U.S. intervention in the
region, suspicious that the U.S. would pit non-Arabs against them
and create another "Iraq or Palestine." End summary.

-------------------------------------
U.S. IS A BALANCED BROKER IN DARFUR...
-------------------------------------

2. (SBU) In his meeting with the Rizeigat umda's son, CDA repeatedly
made the point that the U.S. was not supporting any one group in
Darfur over another. "We just want to solve the issue," he said. The
U.S. could provide encouragement, assistance and even funding once
there is a peace to keep, but the final solution remained in the
hands of the people of Darfur. The Arab tribes could pay the price
as scapegoats of the central government's mistakes and policies, CDA
warned.

3. (SBU) The Rizeigat were not aligned with any of the movements,
nor the government, Dagalo claimed. In fact, the Rizeigat were in
the forefront among the Arab tribes in resisting government
interference, he said. The central government's major mistake had
been the marginalization of Darfur. The rebel movements had also
harmed people on the ground, taking their money and their
livelihoods. Dagalo reserved special scorn for the Zaghawa, who he
blamed for camel-rustling and taking land for grazing their animals.
The Zaghawa tribe is "made up of natural born robbers and thieves",
who especially like to steal camels and sell them in Libya. Because
the Rizeigat keep camels, they are more susceptible to this
camel-rustling than their neighbors who raise cows or sheep, "you
can't steal a cow and take it to Libya", he added.

4. (SBU) Prior to 1983, he said, there had been no contention
between the two groups, and Darfur had been relatively free of
weapons. But then, with the help of the central government (seeking
to overthrow the Chadian Government), weapons and vehicles arrived
from Libya and other countries and the tribes were pitted against
each other. The Zaghawa had received heavy weapons. The Rizeigat
sought to defend themselves and fortunately they were "a 100 percent
warrior people while the Zaghawa were maybe 75 percent fighters
while the rest," like the Fur, were not fighters at all, "about zero
percent." When CDA asked if the Rizeigat had problems with Zaghawa
from outside of Sudan, for example in Chad, Dagalo smiled and said,
"They're all one tribe, no matter where they are." He noted the
baleful influence of Libyan Zaghawa (from the Kufra Oasis) who urge
the Libyan Government to support their Zaghawa brethren with arms
and money in Darfur.

-------------------------------------
...BUT ARAB TRIBES SUSPICIOUS,
AND WILL FIND SUPPORT WHERE THEY CAN
-------------------------------------


5. (SBU) Dagalo said that the Arab tribes in Darfur would insist on
seeing tangible improvement in their status, developmentally,
politically and militarily. CDA cautioned him that the Arabs could
turn into "political orphans," abandoned by the international
community - who would concern themselves with IDPs and humanitarian
issues - and the central government. Many in the larger
international community associated all Arabs with janjaweed; "no one
will look after you," CDA said. The upcoming Libya talks required
more than just the rebels' and the government's participation, CDA
noted. They also required the presence of IDPs, Arab tribes and
civil society; "there's no solution without your voices," he said.
Dagalo noted that the Sudanese Government wants to keep the Rizeigat
backward and illiterate to use as cannon fodder but "we know we have
to settle down in villages and we have begun to do so."

6. (SBU) Dagalo said that the Arab tribes in Darfur were suspicious
that the U.S. would come to Darfur and create another Iraq or
Palestine, pitting non-Arabs against Arabs (the analogy being as the
U.S. supposedly did with Kurds and Israelis). The Sudanese
Government promoted this hostile interpretation of American motives.

KHARTOUM 00001567 002 OF 002


They push the idea that the upcoming UNAMID mission is really an
American invasion in disguise being sent to finish with the
calumnied Darfuri Arabs. Without Arab participation in the peace
process, and in development, Darfur would "explode" like those two
countries. CDA reiterated that he would be more than happy to spend
hours, days even, with Arab tribal leaders in Darfur to explain
directly that U.S. interests were sincere, and that he was planning
a trip to El Fasher with precisely this goal.

7. (SBU) CDA noted that when he first went to Darfur, he heard
anti-government statements from virtually everyone, including
government officials. Everyone had been worn down by the troubles
there and the lack of development, he said. Sudanese officials say
America is hated, "America may be hated in parts of the Arab world,
but the government itself is hated in Darfur - that's worse!" The
U.S. was the largest donor in Darfur, CDA added, and would like to
transfer these hundreds of millions of dollars from humanitarian
relief to real development, schools, and even scholarships, once
there is real peace and reconciliation in Darfur.

--------------------------------
ARABS ARE KEY TO DARFUR SOLUTION
--------------------------------

8. (SBU) "I think the government is playing games with both of us,"
Dagalo said. CDA agreed, saying that the true criminal wasn't
necessarily someone like janjaweed figure Musa Hilal, but the entity
that gave him the orders behind the scene. Hilal was a mere puppet
who liked attention, Dagalo said, agreeing that those who funded him
were culpable. Dagalo also pointed blame at SLM leader (and Zaghawa)
Minni Minawi, who he accused of stealing thousands of camels from
the Rizeigat and taking them to the desert. He was a thief in the
presidential palace, he said. He sharply criticized pro-government
stooges among Darfuri Arab tribesmen like Presidential Advisor
Abdallah Ali al-Manar and former Air Force General Abdallah Safi
al-Nur (both involved in the creation of the janjaweed) "who take
money from Khartoum and do nothing for us."

9. (SBU) The Fur and the Arabs were the two most important parts of
the Darfur solution, CDA told Dagalo. "But this regime doesn't let
us participate," Dagalo said, because the regime feared giving power
to the Arab tribes in Darfur. The Arabs made up 65 percent of
Darfur, he said; "we and Abdul Wahid can solve the problem in three
months!" If we were educated, we would rule all of Sudan. The Arabs
needed American support, Dagalo continued, and a peace agreement
that guaranteed their rights. The Arabs would never surrender on
this point, he suggested, whether it meant allying with the
international powers to garner such guarantees, or turning back to
the Sudanese government. Speaking more broadly, he also cautioned
that Darfuris would never let others exploit the region's natural
resources, but would welcome American investment. He added that the
GOS usually loots natural resources for the sole benefit of Khartoum
without regard to local people; "we Arabs have nothing in Darfur
while others grow rich."

10. (SBU) Comment: The meeting reinforced what we heard during S/E
Natsios' meetings with Arab tribes in South Darfur (reftel); the
Rizeigat recognize how they've been used and manipulated by the
regime in Khartoum, and shut out of any power arrangements or peace
negotiations. They finally seem to realize that they may have more
in common with the humble and despised Fur than with their
duplicitous "Arab brethren" in Khartoum. It is critical that the
Arab tribes be represented at the upcoming talks in Libya. Without
their participation, any agreement is doomed from the beginning. The
fact that they are increasingly restless and dissatisfied (and
looking for allies) is bad news for the Khartoum regime. End
comment.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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