Cablegate: Chad/Sudan/Eufor: French Presidency On Sarkozy's
PP RUEHPA RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHFR #0461/01 0730612
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 130612Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2245
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 1638
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY 2216
Thursday, 13 March 2008, 06:12
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 PARIS 000461
EO 12958 DECL: 03/12/2018
TAGS PREL, EUN, MARR, PHUM, CD, SU, FR
SUBJECT: CHAD/SUDAN/EUFOR: FRENCH PRESIDENCY ON SARKOZY’S
VISIT TO CHAD AND POSSIBLE NEXT STEPS
REF: A. PARIS 431 (NOTAL) B. PARIS 273 (NOTAL) C. PARIS 432 (NOTAL)
Classified By: Political Counselor Andrew Young, 1.4 (b/d).
1. (C) SUMMARY: Romain Serman, AF-advisor at the French Presidency, on March 10 reviewed Sarkozy’s February 28 visit to Chad and discussed possible next steps. In Chad, Sarkozy stressed to Deby the importance of determining the fate of the missing opposition leaders and to develop a meaningful political dialogue in Chad, based on the August 13, 2007, agreement. In the short term, concerned countries should try to make it difficult politically for Sudan to allow Chadian rebels to mount a new offensive prior to the May/June beginning of the rainy season, which would allow EUFOR and UNAMID to deploy in a peaceful environment. Serman said that the Zaghawa rebels no longer seemed willing to fight Deby and might be willing to go over to his side (one of the objectives of a renewed political dialogue); only the Nouri/Gorane faction seemed willing to fight, and had been fully resupplied by Sudan. Sudan should also be placed under increased scrutiny, which would help to discourage its support for another rebel offensive. The South Africans told Sarkozy during his February 28-29 visit that they could play a role by sending a bilateral mission to Sudan to persuade Khartoum to avoid another round of fighting and could make Chad and Sudan priorities during South Africa’s tenure as UNSC president in April. Other possible leverage against Sudan included a reference to potential International Criminal Court interest and increased engagement by China, which was beginning to see the threat Sudanese regional adventurism could post to China’s oil interests in Sudan. Serman welcomed feedback from the U.S. and other concerned parties. END SUMMARY.
2. (C) Romain Serman, one of the two working-level AF-advisors at the French Presidency, on March 10 met with acting AF-watcher and UK Embassy Paris AF-watcher Lucy Joyce to discuss President Sarkozy’s February 28 visit to Chad and possible next steps on the Chad/Sudan/EUFOR cluster of issues. (Ref A reports Serman’s comments on the death of the EUFOR soldier in Sudan; septel will report his comments on France’s evolving military and basing posture in Africa, which Sarkozy announced in Cape Town after his visit to Chad.)
3. (C) As reported Ref B, Sarkozy faced a skeptical media and NGO community prior to the February 28 trip to Chad, with criticism centered on France’s support for Deby, who himself faced strong criticism on human rights and the fate of three missing opposition leaders. Serman reported that Sarkozy met with representatives of the press and NGOs to exchange views before announcing his decision to make the February 28 stop in Chad en route to South Africa. Serman said that the press and NGOs appreciated his willingness to discuss Chad with them but that there was no perceptible shift in their views. Nonetheless, it was useful for Sarkozy to speak directly to his critics, Serman said, if for no other reason to provide them with the presidency’s political perspective, directly from the president. Serman reported that Sarkozy and other elements of the GOF continued to be frustrated with Amnesty International, which maintained that it possessed a document that allegedly showed that France knew about, and even approved of, the detention of the oppositionists even before they disappeared. Amnesty International refused to provide a copy of this purported document, Serman said, even when pressed to provide evidence for its assertions.
4. (C) According to Serman, Sarkozy had two priorities in Chad -- first, to insist that the fate of missing political opponents be determined and to obtain Chadian agreement that a commission of inquiry be established to address that issue. Second, Sarkozy wanted to urge Deby and Chad’s political class to commit to developing a meaningful dialogue, in accordance with the framework suggested in the August 13, 2007, agreement.
5. (C) On the oppositionists, Serman asserted that French pressure yielded positive results, if only partial, citing the release of Lol Mahamat Choua, the subject of earlier French entreaties, and the eventual reappearance of Ngarlejy Yorongar in Cameroon (who subsequently received asylum in France). Serman added that the GOF, while respecting
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Yornogar’s status as a Deby opponent, did not put much stock in his political judgment or his position on most issues. Serman said that Chad still had to account for Ibni Oumar Mahamat Saleh and to establish a credible commission of inquiry to determine in a transparent manner what had happened to Deby’s political opponents during, and in the wake of, the rebel offensive early in February. Serman said that the GOF had no concrete information on Saleh, although there were rumor-like indications that he was still alive. The GOC had to rename the commission of inquiry (its present title, along the lines of “Commission to Investigate Sudanese Aggression in February 2008,” was unacceptable, if not ludicrous, in Serman’s view) and to include a range of interested parties to supplement its pro-government members.
Political Dialogue and Next Steps
6. (C) Serman stressed the importance of making progress on Sarkozy’s second priority of encouraging meaningful political dialogue in Chad. Serman noted the key role the August 13, 2007, agreement could play. Acknowledging that the August 13 agreement “was not perfect,” Serman said that it still could serve as a good point of departure -- “let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water,” he stressed. Referring to comments he had made earlier (Ref B), Serman said that the long-range goal of promoting political dialogue in Chad and, hopefully, laying the groundwork for political reconciliation, would be to deprive the rebels of a reason to continue opposing the government and to entice the rebels into working with the government instead. France’s demand that the government account for its treatment of opposition leaders was another signal to the rebels that France was trying to influence the government into taking steps that would enable the rebels to stop the fighting.
7. (C) After discussing the facts of the EUFOR soldier’s death (ref A), Serman said that all concerned parties should work to see that Sudan did not “escalate” tensions with Chad. Serman believed that the killing of the EUFOR soldier was a Sudanese measure to test the EU’s resolve with respect to EUFOR’s deployment. Serman said that the killing, so far, seemed to have no effect on the EU’s willingness to deploy EUFOR and to have it carry out its mandate to protect refugees in eastern Chad and in the C.A.R.
8. (C) Serman said that steps should be taken to deter Sudanese “escalation” with respect to Chad because Bashir seemed ready to fight. However, in France’s view, the Zaghawa elements of the rebel forces no longer seemed willing to renew the fighting and might be willing to go over to Deby’s side. Nouri’s faction (ethnically Gorane) remained committed to overthrowing Deby and had been fully resupplied by Khartoum, Serman said.
9. (C) In the immediate term, the objective was to avoid another Sudan-backed rebel offensive before the onset of the rainy season in May/June. This would allow EUFOR, as well as UNAMID, to deploy more fully. Serman suggested that the way to do this would be to make it difficult politically for Sudan to allow another offensive to take place. This could be accomplished by dispatching multilateral missions (which he did not specify in detail) to Sudan, “activating existing international fora” (which he also did not specify in detail), and to increase general diplomatic “static.” He summarized by stating that Sudan had to feel that it was under intense and continuing diplomatic scrutiny, which, he believed, would discourage Sudan from pushing the rebels into launching a new offensive. This would allow EUFOR to continue its deployment in a peaceful environment and its growing presence in Chad and C.A.R., and the continued deployment of UNAMID in Darfur would serve to deter renewed fighting.
10. (C) When Sarkozy visited South Africa after the stop in Chad (ref C), the South Africans told him they could play an active and helpful role as well. The South Africans said they might send a bilateral mission to Sudan to advise against renewed fighting, and could make Chad and Sudan priorities during South Africa’s presidency of the UNSC in April.
11. (C) Serman mentioned that other signals could be sent to Sudan, including subtle reminders of possible International Criminal Court interest in Sudan. Serman noted that “we know the U.S. has strong reservations about the ICC,
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but we think the specter of ICC involvement could serve as an additional lever to discourage Sudan from backing a new rebel offensive. Those who do not share your reservations could send a signal to Khartoum.” Serman said that the GOF believed that Sudan was extremely sensitive about the ICC and thus subject to a signal along the lines he mentioned. Serman said that the French had been talking to China, which was slowly becoming aware of its own stake in the issue, aside from the criticism it had been receiving. Serman noted the growing Chinese concern about possible North-South fissures in Sudan and the possibility that its oil interests could be threatened should there be a some sort of more permanent North-South break. The Chinese were beginning to see more clearly that Sudan’s behavior towards Darfur and Chad could only increase the possibility of a North-South rupture with a possibly severe effect on China’s stake in the oil sector.
12. (C) In conclusion, Serman summarized French priorities -- increased political dialogue within Chad, including resolution of the controversy over GOC treatment of opposition leaders, which could lead to reconciliation with Zaghawa rebel elements; increased engagement by the international community, including South Africa and China, to encourage Sudan from backing another rebel offensive, which would allow deployment of EUFOR and UNAMID before the beginning of the rainy season in May/June; and the use of tools such as the ICC to discourage Khartoum’s regional adventurism. Serman said that the GOF would welcome dialogue with the U.S. and other international partners on how best to reduce the possibility of further Chad-Sudan conflict via their rebel proxies.
Please visit Paris’ Classified Website at: http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/paris/index.c fm