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Cablegate: Sudan-Chad Tensions Flare

VZCZCXRO8485
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0035 0100847
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 100847Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9681
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000035

SIPDIS

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

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL MARR KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: SUDAN-CHAD TENSIONS FLARE
1. (SBU) Media and the UN reported that Chadian air force planes
attacked Chadian rebel camps in Sudan near the villages of Goker and
Wadi Radi 35 kilometers south of Geneina in West Darfur state on
January 7. This follows Chadian President Deby's statement January

5 that Chad will pursue Chadian rebels inside Sudan. Deby accused
GoS-supported rebels of attempting to destabilize Chad and creating
an environment that would prevent the deployment of EU peacekeepers
in Chad and UNAMID forces in Darfur.
2. (SBU) Sudanese army spokesman Othman al-Aghbash made a statement
January 8 that Chadian aircraft had bombed positions in west Darfur
killing and wounding civilians. According to press accounts,
Al-Agbash charged that the Chadian attacks are backed by the West.
Claiming that the volume of attacks exceeds Chad's capability,
al-Agbash also charged that this indicated that western nations are
conducting the attacks inside Sudan. Al-Agbash denied that Sudan is
harboring Chadian opposition elements, and warned that Sudan has the
capability to defend against any Chadian aggression and that any
Sudanese action will be proportional to Chadian attacks.
3. (SBU) Sudan's State Minister of Foreign Affairs Al-Sammani
Al-Wasila told the media January 8 that Chadian threats to break
diplomatic relations with Sudan are "regrettable." Al-Sammani
claimed that Sudan had not supported Chadian rebels and claimed that
the Chadian government needs to reconcile differences with its
internal Chadian rebel movement. Al-Sammani stressed that any
Chadian armed opposition was inside Chad.

4. (SBU) Western Darfur Agricultural Minister Bashir Hamad told
emboff January 8 that the GoS is supporting the Chadian rebels who
are living inside Geneina. Hamad claimed the Chadian government is
"fully aware of this." Hamad claimed that the precision of the
Chadian nighttime aerial attacks, which he claimed had not resulted
in any civilian casualties, was clear evidence that they have
received western assistance.

5. (SBU) Comment: Reports of Chadian aircraft incursions into Sudan
to attack Chadian rebels have mounted in the past few weeks. To
this point the GoS has only responded with increased rhetoric.
While Chadian and Sudanese forces have clashed before, such as in
April 2007 when reportedly 17 Sudanese and eight Chadian soldiers
were killed, there are no reports as yet of the Chadian army
mounting a ground offensive into Sudanese territory. Of course, both
countries have supported rebels fighting their neighbor for years
(that is how Deby came to power) and continue to support them.

FERNANDEZ

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