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Cablegate: Darfur Arab Warlord Bargains with Khartoum

VZCZCXRO5667
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0267 0550935
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 240935Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0022
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 0292
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000267

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE, SIPDIS

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

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

SUBJECT: DARFUR ARAB WARLORD BARGAINS WITH KHARTOUM

Reftel: A: KHARTOUM 01968
B: KHARTOUM 01978

----------------------------------------
Negotiations to Return to the Government
----------------------------------------

1. (SBU) Arab militia leader Mohammed Hamdan (aka Hamati) has been
negotiating with the Sudanese Government on his return to an
alliance with Khartoum in recent weeks, according to two UN sources
and an independent NGO with strong ties to Darfur's rebel movements.
Hamdan defected from the Government-sponsored Arab militias in late
2007 and was reported to have forged a quasi-alliance with two of
Darfur's rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Movement
(SLM)/Abdulwahid and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).
Hamdan's recent negotiations with the Government are reflective of
the Arab militias' pragmatic approach to the ongoing conflict,
whereby they continue to adjust their loyalties to secure the best
deal by playing the Sudanese Government and the mostly African
rebels against each other (reftels).

2. (SBU) According to an internal UN report obtained by Poloff in
mid-February, a local source in Nyala, South Darfur told a UN
official that the Advisor to the Minister of Federal Rule and the
leader of a notorious Arab militia, Musa Hilal, along with
ICC-indicted Arab militia leader Ali Kosheyb, met with Hamdan in
December 2007 to convince him to re-establish his alliance with
Khartoum. Three senior generals of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF)
later traveled to Nyala to meet with Hamdan. He rejected both of
these overtures.

-------------------
Hamdan's Conditions
-------------------

3. (SBU) However, in January 2008, according to the same source,
Hamdan submitted the following conditions to the Government in order
to "buy" back his allegiance: promotion of Hamdan to the rank of
"liwa" (major general); promotion of ten of his commanders to high
military ranks; integration of his forces into the SAF; provision of
land near Melha, North Darfur--a significant water point between El
Fasher and Libya--to his brother; and payment of three billion
Sudanese pounds.

------------------------
Government Counter-offer
------------------------

4. (SBU) While the Government initially refused these demands, a
National Congress Party (NCP) representative approached one of
Hamdan's uncles, "Saeed," in early-February to request a second
meeting with the militia leader. The representative claimed that
Khartoum was prepared to promote five (versus ten) of Hamdan's
commanders to high-level military ranks and pay two billion Sudanese
pounds in advance and one billion after Hamdan met the following
conditions: the release 50 of his vehicles to support the Chadian
opposition and launch of three attacks on JEM positions in West
Darfur and one attack in North Darfur. Hamdan traveled to Nyala,
South Darfur on February 1, possibly to finalize the arrangement.

5. (SBU) Though Hamdan continues to deny any agreement with
Khartoum, the two UN sources and the independent NGO predict that
such a return is imminent. One UN source speculated that Hamdan was
involved in the Government's support for the Chadian opposition and
in the SAF's recent fighting against JEM forces in South and West
Darfur. SAF Military Intelligence stated in early February that
Hamdan should withdraw his forces from El Daein, South Darfur to the
North of Nyala. If such a withdrawal occurs in the coming weeks, UN
sources state that it will represent an indication of Hamdan's
loyalties.

6. (SBU) Comment: Such bargaining demonstrates the pragmatic nature
of Darfur's Arab militias. These ruthless Janjaweed, resentful of
outside control, also fear being made the scapegoats for Khartoum's
(and their own) transgressions in the region, worry about their
traditional economic and political marginalization in Darfur, and
will go with whoever offers them the best deal. End comment.

7. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.

FERNANDEZ

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