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Cablegate: Spla Chief of Staff Oyai Deng On Military State of Play

VZCZCXRO4967
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1928/01 3400614
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 060614Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9457
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001928

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS, AF SE NATSIOS
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV MOPS PREL AU SOCI SU
SUBJECT: SPLA CHIEF OF STAFF OYAI DENG ON MILITARY STATE OF PLAY

REF: KHARTOUM 1709

1. (SBU) Summary: SPLA Chief of Staff Lt. General Oyai Deng Ajak
told CDA that he was pessimistic about any great progress in
deploying SAF-SPLA Joint Integrated Units (JIUs), and downplayed the
significance of remaining southern troops on the border areas such
as Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. He said tension between the two
forces remains and suggested that the space between the two armies
be increased and welcomed planned increases in USAID humanitarian
programs in the border areas known as the "Three Areas." End
summary.

2. (SBU) Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) Chief of Staff LTG
Oyai Deng told CDA Fernandez on December 5 that he was in Khartoum
to attend the Joint Defense Board (JDB) meeting on the SPLA-Sudan
Armed Forces (SAF) Joint Integrated Units (JIU). Deng was
pessimistic on making any real headway towards an agreement on the
JIUs, offering his view that the SAF military leadership is waiting
for the political green light to any possible agreement towards
integration. "It's always next time, next time with them." He had
met with FVP Salva Kiir earlier in the day who told him to do
everything possible to ease tensions between the SPLA and SAF.

3. (SBU) Giving a snapshot of current redeployment efforts, Deng
said that the SPLA is supposed to redeploy out of the Blue Nile and
in Nuba Mountains. He said the SPLA formerly had a division in the
Blue Nile State, but now has only a battalion which is with the JIU.
In the Nuba Mountains, he said the SPLA has only one brigade
remaining. He said that the UN had checked the redeployed SPLA
troops and asked where were their weapons, "we told them that we
were a guerrilla army and sometimes you had one rifle for several
fighters" (this also raises the possibility that the SPLA may have
stashed weapons caches in Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile).

4. (SBU) He said the SAF remains in great force in the Nuba
Mountains and Blue Nile, and "well south of the 1-1-56 border" (in
Unity and Upper Nile States) and claimed the SAF would still be in
the south even if they redeploy northward 20 kilometers because in
some cases they are 50 km south of the border. Regarding Abyei,
Deng commented that because of the oil the SAF is unlikely to agree
to redeploy from the area, therefore he said SPLM forces would not
withdraw either.

5. (SBU) LTG Deng said recent recruitment of militias in Kordofan
went well, and noted that President Bashir said that these same
militias should be disarmed and returned to civilian life. This is a
suggestion the SPLA finds laughable. Bashir, he said, considers
these militias to be northerners, and therefore should not be in the
south, "but we consider them to be southerners, so they can remain
armed and supported by us." The SPLA is preparing camp sites for
these (mostly Missiriyya Arab) units around Bentiu in Unity State.

6. (SBU) Asked what issues CDA Fernandez might raise with Minister
of Defense Lt. General Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein in a future
meeting, Deng said to press the Minister on enlarging the space
between the two sides from a 20 kilometer gap to a larger one. Deng
said that while this begs the issue of demarcating the dividing
line, it is in everybody's interest to have both sides move back.
He claimed that even if the SAF moves back further than 20
kilometers, they would still be deep in the south. Secondly, Deng
suggested that SAF forces in the Blue Nile and Nuba mountains be
downsized. Deng said that the Nubans fought for their land and feel
betrayed by the south because they do not have a right to self
determination in the CPA (unlike Abyei), so a reduction in SAF
forces would not undermine northern control of the area.

7. (SBU) Deng reacted positively when CDA Fernandez reported that
USAID is planning to expand its humanitarian programs in the Three
Areas and would like to work with returning SPLA leader Abdul Aziz
Helou. Deng said, "the people love him, and we would value his
leadership in the Nuba Mountains." As for the government's
leadership, Deng opined that people under President Bashir, such as
Interior Minister Al Zubair Bashir Taha, should stop pushing Bashir
into re-arming the militias. Deng observed that Bashir's underlings
try to be more hardline than Bashir to curry favor, and "they can't
break the habit."

8. (SBU) Comment: Deng's suggestion to increase the distance between
armies is not something the SAF would agree to, and we question why
Deng would not have proposed it in the Ceasefire Political
Commission if it is something the SPLA is serious about. The more
pressing issue is demarcation of the border and the monitoring
mechanism by the JDB and UNMIS. Leaving Abyei aside, border
demarcation and redeployment of troops seems to be something the two
sides actually agree on, and we expect to see some progress in this
area over the next few months since this is a prominent element in

KHARTOUM 00001928 002 OF 002


all the ongoing SPLM-NCP talks.

FERNANDEZ

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