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Cablegate: Two Major Darfur Factions Step Toward Union While

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OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHROV
RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #1845/01 3300549
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 260549Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9291
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 001845

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, AF S/E NATSIOS, AND AF/SPG
NSC FOR PITTMAN AND HUDSON
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV UN AU SU
SUBJECT: TWO MAJOR DARFUR FACTIONS STEP TOWARD UNION WHILE
FUR REMAIN IN THE COLD

REF: KHARTOUM 01776

-------
Summary
-------

1. (SBU) JEM/Collective Leadership and SLA/Unity, two of the
strongest rebel movements in Darfur, have taken steps toward
a tentative alliance, and JEM/CL plans to conduct
consultations with SLA/Unity leaders Abdullah Yehia, Suleiman
Jamous, and Sharif Harir in Darfur over the next week to
solidify this union. While insisting that their political
and military strength entitles them to a commensurate role in
peace negotiations, both JEM/CL and SLA/Unity have expressed
a desire to coordinate with some of the less significant
factions to broaden their ethnic base beyond the minority
Zaghawa tribe. Coming after the conclusion of these
consultations, hands-on UN/AU mediation with the movements
would consolidate the gains thus far and lay the foundation
for a resumption of peace talks. Incorporating the Fur into
the political process, however, still presents a serious
challenge and will require more consistent UN/AU leadership
to execute a sophisticated strategy involving IDP
representatives and Fur field commanders. End summary.

--------------------
A Tentative Alliance
--------------------

2. (SBU) The Justice and Equality Movement/Collective
Leadership (JEM/CL) and the Sudan Liberation Army/Unity
(SLA/Unity) have taken tentative steps towards a political
and military alliance, which they hope will be consolidated
after both movements' top leaders meet in Darfur within the
next week, JEM/CL spokesman and political commissar
Tadjedinne Niam and SLA/Unity commander Abdullah Yehia told
Poloff in recent conversations. JEM/CL and SLA/Unity
maintain the most potent fighting forces in the field, and
while both groups' insist that their representation in peace
negotiations be commensurate with their political and
military strength, they support continued outreach efforts to
the less significant rebel factions--many of whom are in Juba
under the auspices of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement
(SPLM). "Our goal is still to get one movement," said Yehia.

-------------------------------
One Week of Field Consultations
-------------------------------

3. (SBU) According to Niam, JEM/CL leaders will travel from
Juba to Darfur around November 27 to consult with the
elements in the field for approximately one week. The bulk
of these discussions will focus on consolidating the union of
JEM/CL and SLA/Unity, said Niam, who added that further
consultations with the field-based elements of the National
Movement for Reform and Development (NMRD), the United
Revolutionary Forces Front (URFF) and SLA/Khamis Abdullah are
also necessary. Yehia confirmed that he and his sometime
rivals Suleiman Jamous and Sharif Harir--all of whom are in
Darfur--welcome these consultations. Both leaders emphasized
that no further progress can be made to prepare for talks
until these discussions are complete, and Niam warned that
rushing the preparatory phase without the input from the
field could further splinter Darfur's fractious movements.
Yehia delivered a similar message to UN Chief Mediator Taye
Brooke Zerihoun and AU Chief Mediator Sam Ibok when they met
with him in the field on November 22, according to UN Senior
Political Advisor Muin Shrim. (Note: Taye and Ibok's meeting
with Yehia was delayed from November 21 because the Sudanese
Government denied the UN/AU flight clearance. Taye intends
to raise this issue in Khartoum in the coming days. UN saw
this as a new ratcheting up bureaucracy/control by the GOS
nervous about events in Darfur. End note.)

------------------------------------------
Zaghawa Dominant but Crossing Ethnic Lines
------------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Of the two consolidated yet fragile groups that have
emerged in Juba since mid-November, only JEM/CL carries
significant military weight (reftel). Recognizing, however,
that JEM/CL and SLA/Unity are predominantly Zaghawa, Niam
said that he hopes their tentative alliance can expand to
include Khamis Abdullah's Massalit-dominated SLA to broaden

KHARTOUM 00001845 002.2 OF 003


their ethnic base. Following their field consultation, Niam
said that JEM/CL will return to Juba for additional
discussions with the factions there to bring these more minor
groups into the fold. (Note: Due to fissures within
SLA/Unity, Yehia, Jamous, and Harir are unlikely to travel to
Juba in order to maintain their hold over their field
commanders. End note.)

--------------------------------
Abdulshafie: The New Abdulwahid?
--------------------------------

5. (SBU) The group in Juba that has coalesced around Ahmed
Abdulshafie, a Fur, remains less open to coordination with
JEM/CL and SLA/Unity and more opposed to current UN/AU plans
for the peace process, according to Niam, Yehia, and UN/AU
sources. Meeting with UN Chief Mediator Taye and AU Chief
Mediator Ibok in Juba on November 19, Abdulshafie said that
he would never attend peace talks in Libya and called for
full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1706
before he would participate in negotiations.

6. (SBU) "He's become a smaller version of Abdulwahid Nur,"
Ibok told Poloff in a recent conversation, adding that Shafie
would only accept an alliance with the other factions if he
were selected as the group's leader, an unlikely scenario
given his weak military and political position. Niam said
that Abdulshafie continues to press for a declaration of
unity without consultations in the field. (Comment: As
Abdulwahid's continued refusal to participate in the peace
process has increased his popularity among the Fur,
particularly those in the IDP camps, Abdulshafie is likely
seeking to demonstrate his own independent streak in order to
gain support in the field. Meanwhile, the UN/AU suspect that
the SPLM is giving tacit encouragement to Abdulshafie, their
long-time ally, to demand the top leadership position in any
consolidated rebel movement. End comment.)

---------------------------
Ongoing UN/AU-SPLM Problems
---------------------------

7. (SBU) The UN and AU remain concerned that the SPLM is not
coordinating its efforts with them and is using the movements
now assembled in Juba as leverage against the National
Congress Party (NCP). Ibok and Taye met with Government of
Southern Sudan Vice President Riek Machar, now the SPLM's
focal point for its Darfur initiative, on November 19.
According to Ibok, Machar refused to provide the UN/AU with a
specific strategy for the coming weeks, beyond aiming to
entice Yehia to Juba.

8. (SBU) Machar also admitted that the SPLM had encouraged
the Darfur movements to consider linking their struggle to
the simmering tensions in Kordofan and that the SPLM had
invited several "Janjaweed" to Juba to participate in the
discussions, said Ibok (UNDSS told visiting USAID
Administrator Fore on November 23 of several former janjaweed
factions who may be switching sides, both in North and South
Darfur). Ibok and Taye cautioned Machar against broadening
the scope of the SPLM initiative to include Kordofan and the
Arab tribes, noting that it would be detrimental to the
overall political process as well as deepen the political
crisis in the Government of National Unity (GNU) between the
NCP and the SPLM. (Note: Subsequent to the UN/AU's November
19 meetings in Juba, the SPLM announced that First Vice
President Salva Kiir will hold a closing ceremony for the
Juba gathering on November 29. The UN/AU plan to airlift
some of the movements' representatives to Darfur thereafter,
according to UN Advisor Shrim. End note.)

-------
Comment
-------

9. (SBU) While no single leader is likely to emerge from
among Darfur's rebel movements, a loose coalition of the
relatively stronger rebel factions may be possible for the
first time in several months. However, the absence of a
pre-eminent leader means that such a fragile coalition will
only be forged through consensus and will always operate
based on a collective decision-making process, a fact that
the UN/AU mediators would be well-advised to incorporate into
their negotiating strategy. It is encouraging that JEM/CL

KHARTOUM 00001845 003 OF 003


and SLA/Unity appear to be courting other ethnic groups and
lone military commanders such as Adam Bakheit--who, while now
weak, could regain their footing and divide the movements
again unless they are brought firmly into the fold. Coming
after the consultations in Darfur, a UN/AU-sponsored meeting
for the rebel movements in a neutral venue--with serious,
hands-on UN/AU mediation--could capitalize on the gains thus
far, defuse some of the growing concern about the SPLM's
intentions in Juba, and accelerate preparations for the next
phase of peace talks (it must be admitted frankly that the
SPLM has made more progress, modest as it is, than the UN/AU
in uniting the factions). Incorporating the Fur into the
political process, however, still presents a serious
challenge. Constrained by its own institutional dysfunction,
the UN/AU is unlikely to overcome this obstacle (which would
require a sophisticated UN/AU strategy involving Fur IDPs and
prominent field commanders) without more consistent
leadership. UN sources continue to indicate their agreement
that a single UN mediator with support staff, leaving the
JMST structure behind, is the best approach. However, they
would need U.S. and international community's support for
finding a graceful way for Eliasson and Salim to step aside
during the mediation phase. End comment.
FERNANDEZ

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