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Cablegate: Jem Denies Radicalism, Explains Unamid Controversy

VZCZCXRO8707
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1964/01 3451103
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 111103Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9503
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 0265
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001964

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE, SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, AF S/E NATSIOS, AF/SPG
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO UN AU SU

SUBJECT: JEM DENIES RADICALISM, EXPLAINS UNAMID CONTROVERSY

KHARTOUM 00001964 001.2 OF 002


REFTEL: KHARTOUM 01918

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

1. (SBU) The NCP has falsely painted Khalil Ibrahim's JEM as an
Islamist movement, two of the group's representatives told Poloff in
a recent El Fasher meeting. Rather than pursuing a radical agenda,
they asserted, JEM seeks to transform the country through
"revolution," end the marginalization of the peripheral regions, and
maintain Sudanese unity. The JEM leadership supports a peacekeeping
force that can protect civilians, but some of the rank-and-file
believe UNAMID is deploying to combat terrorism and will arrest them
because of international misperceptions of JEM's aims. Casting
doubt on the credibility of the UN and AU peace process, JEM
representatives underscored that negotiations will not succeed
without the inclusion of SLM leader Abdulwahid al Nur and further
unification of Darfur's rebels. They also downplayed the
significance of the breakaway JEM/Collective Leadership faction.
End summary.

---------------------
Misperceptions of JEM
---------------------

2. (SBU) The Sudanese Government has distorted the international
community's views of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), which
is not Islamist and does not have ties to radical groups, two of
Khalil Ibrahim's operatives in El Fasher told Poloff on December 5.
They characterized Ibrahim's recent call for self-determination for
Darfur as a tactic to pressure the National Congress Party (NCP) and
to re-invigorate international focus on the crisis. In fact, JEM is
a movement "for all parts of Sudan," they said, and aimed to end
Khartoum's exploitation of the other regions of the country,
including the South.

3. (SBU) "We don't have the resources, the development, or the
infrastructure to be independent," said Abdullah Adam Ali, a JEM
security operative from the Tunjur tribe who is charged with IDP
mobilization and who admitted that he was imprisoned from 2004-2006
for participation in a JEM-inspired coup plot in Khartoum. "We will
get lost if we ask for separation. We would be disconnected from the
world."

4. (SBU) Ali asserted that Sudan will only be transformed through
"revolution," as the NCP will never willingly relinquish power.
Even members of Hassan al Turabi's Popular Congress Party
(PCP)--long viewed as the inspirational force behind JEM--had moved
from the PCP ("a political movement") to JEM ("a military movement")
as it became clear that "politics was not leading anywhere," said
Ali.

-------------------------
JEM Controversy on UNAMID
-------------------------

5. (SBU) Ali acknowledged that the deployment of the UN-AU Mission
in Darfur (UNAMID) is controversial within the JEM rank-and-file,
blaming the controversy on the international community's "false
perception" of the movement. "We welcome any force that comes to
protect civilians," he said, "but some believe that UNAMID is coming
to combat terrorism and will arrest them, even though they are not
radicals." He continued that the apathy of African forces and the
complicity of Arab nations and China in the conflict through their
support for Khartoum required European troops for an effective
peacekeeping mission.

--------------------
JEM/CL Insignificant
--------------------

6. (SBU) Ali downplayed the political and military significance of
the JEM/Collective Leadership (JEM/CL) faction led by Bahar Idriss
Abu Gharda. They claimed that Ibrahim had engineered the expulsion
of Abu Gharda and the movement's principal military commander,
Abdallah Banda, after their ambitions had grown out of proportion
and had interfered with JEM's "normal, internal consultative
process."

7. (SBU) The JEM representatives claimed JEM/CL is composed only of
Abu Gharda and Banda's relatives, such as field commander Adam
Bakhiet, who lack political sophistication and will never command
the prestige of the mainstream JEM. Despite recent assertions by
JEM/CL (reftel), the diaspora remains supportive of Ibrahim's
leadership, Abdulhamid stated, noting that his brother was the
political secretary in JEM's London Bureau. Robust fundraising

KHARTOUM 00001964 002.2 OF 002


efforts for JEM in the U.S. also continue.

-----------------------
Lacking Faith in UN, AU
-----------------------

8. (SBU) Both Ali and Abdulhamid had little faith in the UN/AU-led
peace process. "The UN and AU should not be on the side of the
Government," said Ali, describing the UN as too weak to press the
NCP to compromise. In addition, they explained that the AU and
Salim Ahmed Salim--who IDPs view as having "Arab origins"--support
the agenda of the NCP and are therefore "not qualified to run the
negotiations." Libyan leader Moammar Qaddhafi's relationship with
President Bashir and his remarks before and during the recent Sirte
negotiations also necessitate a change in venue to a "neutral
location."

-------------------------------------------
Abdulwahid, Rebel Unity Essential for Peace
-------------------------------------------

9. (SBU) "There can be no peace without Abdulwahid," said Ali,
referring to Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) faction leader
Abdulwahid al Nur. Due to IDPs' support for his proposals on
compensation and disarmament of the Arab militias, these issue now
shape the agenda, and JEM supports Abdulwahid's policy positions,
said Ali. In addition, the UN/AU must give the splintered rebel
movements more time to organize themselves and propose a more
concrete agenda for talks that includes civilian voices and
opposition parties.

10. (SBU) Parroting past comments by Ibrahim, Ali said that
negotiations can only include two factions--JEM and a re-united
SLM--and should then involve a "step-by-step" review of the Darfur
Peace Agreement (DPA). "Political leaders" (a euphemism for the
PCP) are trying to meet with Abdulwahid to support unification
efforts, according to Ali. Abdulhamid proposed that the
international community organize a "comprehensive conference" of
factions outside Sudan to press the rebel leaders toward
unification.

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

11. (SBU) Irrespective of the degree of JEM's Islamist tendencies,
the movement has given no indication that it has renounced regime
change in Khartoum--though its rhetoric may be more subtle in recent
months. While Ali and Abdulhamid provided a more nuanced position
on UNAMID than recent comments by Ibrahim, it is important to note
that concern about the force's composition and whether the troop
contributors are beholden to Khartoum is widespread through the
rebel ranks (and IDPs) and not limited to JEM. Despite their
characterization of JEM/CL as insignificant, independent sources
continue to indicate that a considerable part of Ibrahim's military
strength has defected to the breakaway faction and left JEM in a
weakened state--for now. End comment.

12. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.

FERNANDEZ

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