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Cablegate: Kordofan Rebel Group Merges with Jem

VZCZCXYZ0013
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKH #0067/01 0171417
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 171417Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9719

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000067

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, AF/SE WILLIAMSON
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR, AND ALSO PASS USAID

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KSEC PHUM ECON SU
SUBJECT: KORDOFAN REBEL GROUP MERGES WITH JEM

1. (U) SUMMARY: A new Kordofan rebel group led by a well-known
former brigadier general in the Sudanese Armed Forces, Ibrahim Abu
Rannat, has recently merged with the Justice and Equality Movement.
This unification with "The Sons of Kordofan Alliance" (SKA) supports
JEM's goal of spreading the Darfur conflict into neighboring states,
and may provide arms, training, and logistical support to a growing
Kordofan insurgency. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Brigadier General Ibrahim AbuRannat, military commander of
the Sons of Kordofan Alliance (SKA), told EmbOff on January 14 that
his movement has united with the Justice and Equality Movement.
AbuRannat said that JEM's rejection of the Government of Sudan and
the practical benefits that this alliance will provide (e.g.
training, arms, and material support) make it an attractive union.
Abu Rannat dismissed that he was part of another Kordofan rebel
movement, the Kordofan Alliance for Development (KAD) (see below),
stating that this movement is cowardly, ineffective, and "only
wasting time."

3. (SBU) In a January 16 conversation with emboff, Khattab Widaa,
the secretary of JEM's social services committee, confirmed that Abu
Rannat had joined forces with JEM and that Khalil Ibrahim had named
Abu Rannat a deputy leader of JEM.

4. (U) JEM websites (www.sudanjem.com) and Sudanese daily papers
also carried a statement from Abu Rannat declaring the merger of SKA
with JEM:

- "The Military wing of SKA hereby declares its official merger with
the Sudanese Justice and Equality Movement forces... This decision
has come as a result of JEM's national orientation and objectives,
and its clear solution for Sudan's chronic problems. Long
consultations, continued for months, between the two movements, have
preceded this decision, and successfully concluded in transferring
SKA's military forces to JEM territories in the field. The SKA
political leaders inside Sudan and in exile have also helped make
this decision."

- "The leaders of SKA have affirmed that the problem of the region
and the whole country will not be solved by Khartoum's sweet words
and false promises. The merger of SKA into JEM is one step towards
the unification of the marginalized to achieve their legitimate
rights. This declaration confirms the commitment of all members of
SKA to the constitution, activities, and objectives of JEM."

HISTORY OF KORDOFAN REBELS
--------------------------
5. (U) Since the start of the conflict in Darfur, neighboring
Kordofan has produced few indigenous rebel groups. One of the
first, Shahama, was led by Musa Hammadain, a native of the Misseriya
tribe from West Kordofan and a former commander in the Sudanese
Popular Defense Force. In 2003, Hammadain led his Shahama movement
against the Sudanese Armed Forces in Kordofan. Later in 2003,
government forces attacked Hammadain's forces, killed him, and
largely dismantled Shahama.
6. (U) In 2006, the Kordofan Alliance for Development (KAD) emerged
as another resistance movement. Although KAD has a military wing,
it has not yet attacked GoS forces. Since its inception, KAD has
focused on chartering political statements, organizing strikes, and
issuing formal criticism against the GoS. On January 15, local
press reported that the General Secretary and military commander of
KAD, Mr. Mohamed Al Belail Issa, called the merger between JEM and
SKA inappropriate, as the people, culture, and overall situation in
Kordofan is different from that in Darfur.
7. (U) In 2007, Abu Rannat appears to have been in regular contact
with KAD leaders and may have briefly joined the movement. Although
the relationship between KAD and Abu Rannat during this time period
remains unclear, Abu Rannat now rejects KAD as an organization and
subsequently formed his own movement, the Sons of Kordofan Alliance.
With its merger to JEM, it is not clear whether KSA will continue
to use its own name, or whether it will be fully incorporated into
JEM.
8. (SBU) The acting Colonel of the Sudanese Police in Nahud,
Kordofan, Ibrahim Abdalla Mohamed, told emboff on January 16 that
the Sudanese Armed Force units have been put on alert in Nahud,
EL-Obeid, and Ghebeish following the SKA-JEM merger. According to
Mohamed, Abu Rannat is a popular leader, and the GoS's failure to
pay military pensions have helped his recruitment efforts. Despite
Abu Rannat's popularity, Mohamed stated his belief that JEM will not
succeed in stirring conflict in Kordofan as its people do not want
to follow the path of Darfur. He also stated that disgruntled
individuals and movements in Kordofan, such as KAD, are starting to
work with the Government of Sudan. He predicted that Khartoum will
soon award development projects to cooperative areas and movements
such as KAD and named the Ghebeish-Nahud-El-Obeid road as one likely
project.
9. (SBU) Comment: JEM has distorted and exaggerated information in
the past and probably is using this alliance with SKA for
self-promotion. Nonetheless, this does fit into JEM's overall
strategy of spreading violence from Darfur into Kordofan. Although
JEM attacks in Kordofan have been infrequent, they have been
directed towards high profile targets such as oil fields and
sometimes they have resulted in the great loss of life (as in the
case of the August 29 Wad Banda attack which killed 41 reserve
police/militia). Compared to other Darfur rebel groups, JEM has a
sophisticated communications strategy with a website, frequent press
releases, and continuous interaction with the local and
international press.
10. (SBU) Comment continued: Even if the amount of SKA's troops or
the size of its arsenal is small, JEM has gained a respected,
experienced, and knowledgeable military commander in Abu Rannat.
The Government of Sudan appears to recognize that this represents an
elevated threat to Kordofan and has responded quickly. According to
sources in Kordofan, Khartoum has reportedly put SAF troops and
Kordofan police on alert, encouraged division between Kordofan
opposition movements, and, with a new development program, appears
ready to buy-out natural allies of JEM and Abu Rannat, a strategy
the GOS has used effectively in other conflicts. END COMMENT.
11. (SBU) BIO NOTE: Ibrahim Abu Rannat is a former brigadier
general who was dismissed or possibly pressured out of the Sudanese
Armed Forces in approximately 2000 after he was perceived not to be
sufficiently loyal to the Bashir regime. A native of Nahud in
western North Kordofan state, AbuRannat has the reputation of being
an effective and leader who knows Kordofan and Darfur well. He is
rumored to have served as a consultant to Darfur rebel movements.
FERNANDEZ

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