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Cablegate: Jem Threatens to Shoot Down Gos Planes in West Darfur

VZCZCXRO9374
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #2044 3601012
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 261012Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9612
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 002044

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU SU UNSC CD

SUBJECT: JEM THREATENS TO SHOOT DOWN GOS PLANES IN WEST DARFUR


1. (SBU) On December 24 a Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)
representative in El Fasher told fieldoff that JEM would shoot down
any aircraft flying into its West Darfur territory - specifically El
Geneina, Kulbus, Tine, and Saraf Omra - as a way of pre-empting
aerial attacks by the Government of Sudan (GoS). The rep claimed
that on December 22 the GoS had revived its use of white, unmarked
helicopters in the area to transport weapons from Khartoum to its
forces fighting with the JEM. Since African Union (AU) and United
Nations (UN) aircraft are also white, the JEM advised that all
flight plans (AU, UN, NGO) should be cleared through designated JEM
field commanders in Jebel Mun in order to avoid being mistakenly
shot down. JEM said that it will issue a statement of this plan in
Arabic and English to the AU (given to FieldOff on December 24) and
will alert UN Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) and the
Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

2. (SBU) The JEM rep also claimed that JEM forces are not
surrounding El Geneina or Kulbus at this time and have no immediate
plans to attack those cities. He reported that two convoys of GoS
forces and Chadian rebels are on the move from Silea to El Geneina,
which he warns will further destabilize the West Darfur capital.
3. (SBU) FieldOff made clear that the threat to shoot down planes
arbitrarily carried with it potentially disastrous consequences, not
only in terms of potential civilian collateral damage but also in
terms of JEM's credibility. FieldOff will continue to reinforce
this message and to urge refraining from any violent acts.
4. (SBU) The JEM rep acknowledged this consideration but stated that
JEM is in a one-sided battle with the GoS and needs to protect
itself accordingly. He said that JEM, while not against the
incoming UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) forces, could not fully
support UNAMID's presence in JEM-controlled areas until the AU and
UN undertook consultation with the JEM on UNAMID's mandate first.
In particular, JEM opposes the provisions of UNAMID's mandate to
uphold the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), to which JEM is not a
signatory. FieldOff reminded JEM rep that UNSCR 1769 addresses not
only the DPA but also any outcome from subsequent Darfur peace talks
(UNSCR 1769, OP1).

5. (SBU) COMMENT: JEM's latest threat, albeit nothing new, is
worrisome, particularly with regard to humanitarian movements in
West Darfur, which are dependent on air operations due to insecurity
precluding land travel. Equally worrisome is the claim that the GoS
is using white aircraft to transport weapons. According to AMIS,
SLM/Minawi's commanders made similar allegations recently and also
threatened to shoot down aircraft believed to be operated by the
Sudanese military. JEM's threat is indicative of rising JEM-GoS
tensions, exacerbated by the continued detention of JEM leader Hamad
Hasan Mohamed, whose whereabouts in West Darfur remain unknown. JEM
is also frustrated with the AU, which has been slow to respond to
the detention.

6. (SBU) Tripoli minimize considered.

POWERS

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