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Cablegate: Sla/Unity Strives for "Grand Alliance"

VZCZCXRO8744
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1965/01 3451130
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 111130Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9505
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 0267
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001965

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 UN AU SU LY

SUBJECT: SLA/UNITY STRIVES FOR "GRAND ALLIANCE"


KHARTOUM 00001965 001.2 OF 002


REFTEL: KHARTOUM 01964
KHARTOUM 01785
TRIPOLI 01026

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

1. (SBU) SLA/Unity is striving to form a "grand alliance" with
Khalil Ibrahim and Abdulwahid al Nur through mobilization of Fur and
Zaghawa IDPs, according to several of its representatives in North
Darfur. Frustrated with the inertia of the UN/AU-led political
process and doubtful that the NCP will honor an eventual peace
agreement, SLA/Unity's focus is more on forging a credible political
and military force to counter the Sudanese Government and transform
Sudan rather than on preparing for negotiations. In addition to the
shifting allegiances of the Arab tribes, SLA/Unity's activities are
having the most dynamic impact on the situation in Darfur at
present. End summary.

------------------
A "Grand Alliance"
------------------

2. (SBU) The Sudan Liberation Army (SLA)/Unity must forge a "grand
alliance" with Khalil Ibrahim's Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)
and the Fur IDPs led by SLA faction leader Abdulwahid al Nur to
create a credible counterweight to the National Congress Party
(NCP), six SLA/Unity representatives told Poloff in El Fasher during
separate meetings from December 6-9. Without a unified challenge to
the NCP's policies, they believe Khartoum will continue to
marginalize Darfur's population. "The Government is like a
colonizer," said one SLA/Unity cadre. "We will never be allowed to
be at the same level of the Arabs in Khartoum."

3. (SBU) According to all six representatives of the movement,
SLA/Unity shares Ibrahim and Abdulwahid's goals. However, SLA/Unity
members differed in their description of these goals. While some
cadres viewed Ibrahim and Abdulwahid as supporting
self-determination for Darfur, others said that Ibrahim and
Abulwahid seek autonomy within a federal system, as in Southern
Sudan. Another member of SLA/Unity asserted that the movement,
Ibrahim, and Abdulwahid all aim for regime change. "You can't have
an agreement with this government," he opined. (Note: Per Ref. A,
JEM representatives deny that Ibrahim seeks self-determination for
Darfur, focusing instead on transformation of the country's
governing system within a unified Sudan. End note.)

-----------------
Change From Below
-----------------

4. (SBU) While the SLA/Unity representatives predicted that Ibrahim
will soon formalize an alliance with their movement, intensive
consultations with the Fur IDPs are necessary to bring Abdulwahid
into a coalition. "A political shift must come from below," said
one SLA/Unity member. Another cadre cited some progress in
mobilizing Fur IDPs to support SLA/Unity, saying that only a vocal
minority are blindly in lock step with Abdulwahid. The Fur are
beginning to realize that Abdulwahid is militarily weak, he said,
and that they must cooperate with SLA/Unity in order to achieve
their goals. "The Fur have land rights, not arms."

5. (SBU) All of the SLA/Unity representatives conceded that
Abdulwahid would be the chairman of a unified movement because a
Zaghawa leader would undermine the group's credibility with the Fur.
One prestigious SLA/Unity representative acknowledged that Suleiman
Jamous, Sharif Harir, and Abdullah Yehia were competing for the
leadership of SLA/Unity but predicted that they could not rival
Abdulwahid if he agreed to a coalition. (Note: A UN official
reported to Poloff that during UN Envoy Jan Eliasson's meeting with
the SLA/Unity leadership in Um Rai on December 7, Sharif and Yehia
were visibly at odds. End note.)

-------------------------------------
Government, Minawi Behind Splintering
-------------------------------------

6. (SBU) SLA/Unity underscored that their efforts to mobilize the
Fur must remain *secret* to avoid Government infiltration. The NCP is
active in creating splinter movements and preventing other factions
from uniting, they said. One example is JEM/Collective Leadership
(JEM/CL) led by Bahar Idriss Abu Gharda. SLA/Unity blamed Senior
Assistant to the President Minni Minawi for orchestrating JEM/CL's
split from Ibrahim's movement. They claimed that Minawi receives
financial backing from Khartoum and wants to consolidate his
position as head of the Transitional Darfur Regional Authority

KHARTOUM 00001965 002.2 OF 002


(TDRA). (Note: Per Ref. B, Minawi disclosed his outreach efforts to
Abu Gharda prior to the Sirte talks, reporting that he had attempted
to persuade him to adhere to a cessation of hostilities and
participate in negotiations. There is no indication that Minawi
receives incentives from the NCP to implement their policy
objectives, given the SLM's desperate financial situation and
political isolation in Khartoum. End note.)

------------------------------
Limited Trust in Arab Militias
------------------------------

7. (SBU) SLA/Unity's unification discussions center on bonds with
other African tribes rather than with Arab militias, which SLA/Unity
distrusts in spite of reports that these groups are opposed to the
Sudanese Government. SLA/Unity characterized Salah Abu Surra's
Revolutionary Democratic Forces Front (RDFF) and the recently formed
Sudanese Revolutionary Front affiliated with Mahariya commander
Ahmed Humaidan (aka Hamati) as "agents of the Government." (Note:
The Zaghawa-Arab rivalry is more charged than the Fur-Arab
relationship. Given Zaghawa dominance of SLA/Unity, the movement
may be more suspicious of an alliance with anti-Government Arab
militias than Fur factions such as Abdulwahid's. End note.)

----------------------
Frustration with UN/AU
----------------------

8. (SBU) SLA/Unity is frustrated with the pace of UN peace efforts
and treated the UN/AU-led negotiating process as tangential to their
principal aim: unification of the movements. "We keep talking to
the UN Secretary General, to Eliasson, to Salim, and nothing
changes," one cadre stated. Distrust of the AU runs deep, and
SLA/Unity claimed that AU Special Envoy Salim Ahmed Salim is an Arab
"working on the agenda of the Government." According to one
representative, "our confidence is only in the UN, the U.S. and our
God." They were also firm in rejecting negotiations in "any Arab
country," including Libya.

9. (SBU) The international community should focus on supporting the
movement's unification efforts by facilitating consultations among
the IDPs and the rebel factions, said SLA/Unity. Without
elaborating on the structure of this dialogue, they indicated that
external mediation will ease the selection of a new rebel
leadership. "If the international community helps SLA/Unity to join
Abdulwahid and Khalil, all problems will be solved," said one
cadre.

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

10. (SBU) SLA/Unity's focus on bringing Ibrahim and Abdulwahid into
a peace process is similar to Libya's (Ref. C)--one of the faction's
premier backers as of late summer 2007--and Tripoli's hand may be
behind some of SLA/Unity's efforts to mobilize in the camps. Given
the level of previous Libyan financial support for SLA/Unity,
objections to a Libyan venue for talks may be mere rhetoric designed
to court IDPs. SLA/Unity appears more agile with a wider reach than
many of the more static and entrenched factions (including
Abdulwahid's), in spite of their fluctuating political objectives
(i.e. self-determination vs. a unified Sudan). In addition to its
formidable military concentration in North Darfur, SLA/Unity
operatives continue to surface in all areas of rebel activity, from
Tripoli to Juba, and are planning outreach campaigns in Jebal Marra
and in camps throughout Darfur. While the majority of Darfur's
rebel factions view the UN/AU mediation as lumbering and too weak to
move the NCP to compromise, SLA/Unity's efforts--in addition to the
shifting allegiances of some Arab tribes (to be reported
septel)--are having the most dynamic impact on the ground at
present. End comment.

11. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.

FERNANDEZ

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