Search

 

Cablegate: Darfur Rebels Won't Rush to Peace at Expense of Political

VZCZCXRO9648
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0339/01 0690813
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 090813Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0139
RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000339

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, AF S/E WILLIAMSON, AND AF/SPG
NSC FOR PITTMAN AND HUDSON
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF SU
SUBJECT: DARFUR REBELS WON'T RUSH TO PEACE AT EXPENSE OF POLITICAL
AGENDA

Reftel: Khartoum 00267

-------
SUMMARY
-------

1. (SBU) The factions of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) must
re-unite across tribal lines before any negotiations can begin with
the Sudanese Government, a commander allied with SLA/Abdulshafie
told Poloff in El Fasher. Discussions among the field commanders
allied with SLA/Abdulshafie, SLA/Unity, SLA/Abdulwahid, and the
United Revolutionary Front (URF) are ongoing, according to the
commander, and aim at building unification from the bottom up to
pressure leaders like Abdulwahid al Nur to set aside their personal
ambitions and cooperate with other factions to achieve their
political goals vis-a-vis Khartoum. Any alliance with Arab militias
is unlikely, the commander predicted, given these militias' shifting
loyalties and attempts to renew a military pact with the Sudanese
Government. End summary.

----------------------------
SLA Unification Before Peace
----------------------------

2. (SBU) Recognizing that their factionalism has weakened their
position vis-a-vis the Sudanese Government, the factions of the SLA
must unite in order to achieve their political goals, Abdullah
Ismail, a commander affiliated with the SLA led by Ahmed
Abdulshafie, told Poloff on March 6. While the movements are split
by personal rivalries rather than over disagreements on the
political agenda, Ismail claimed that there is universal recognition
that any re-unification of the SLA across tribal lines (i.e. an
agreement between Zaghawa and Fur rebel elements) is essential for
achieving their political objectives. Until inter-movement and
inter-tribal negotiations result in a united front to challenge
Khartoum, negotiations will not be possible.

------------------------------
Unification from the Bottom Up
------------------------------

3. (SBU) According to Ismail, discussions among the field commanders
allied with SLA/Abdulshafie, SLA/Unity, SLA/Abdulwahid, and the URF
continue. "The problem is with the political leadership, not the
fighters," he explained, suggesting that unification can be built
from the bottom up to pressure leaders like Abdulwahid to set aside
their personal ambitions and cooperate with other factions. The
mid-ranking segments of the movements need time to complete their
consultations, asserted Ismail. "If people (i.e. the top tier of
rebel leadership) don't want to unify, no one--not the UN, not the
AU, not the U.S.--can help," he said. "It's like someone who is ill
and doesn't want to see the doctor." (Note: An NGO with close ties
to the rebel movements confirmed that intense "negotiations" are
occurring between key rebel factions, including SLA/Abdulwahid and
SLA/Unity. End note.)

--------------
Not in a Hurry
--------------

4. (SBU) Ismail predicted that international pressure on the
movements to participate in a peace process would be ineffective.
"We want to achieve our goals," he said, "and we're not in a hurry.
We cannot create a weak structure that falls apart during
negotiations." Though all sides are "fed up with fighting," the
movements will not relent in their struggle to obtain political
rights for the people of Darfur. "When we're strong, we can expand
the fight outside Darfur" in order to gain concessions from
Khartoum, Ismail threatened, mentioning Kordofan specifically.

--------------------------------
Unification Conference in Darfur
--------------------------------

5. (SBU) Asked how the international community could support the
hoped-for unification efforts, Ismail responded that after the
completion of consultations among the field commanders, the U.S.
should press Khartoum to allow a conference of the SLA factions to
occur in Darfur so that "five to six" leaders from each faction
could finalize a unified political structure. Any meeting of SLA
factions outside Darfur would exclude influential rebel
representatives and be focused on the diaspora, which is detached
from the reality on the ground, said Ismail. He also rejected the
possibility of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) holding
the conference in Southern Sudan, lamenting that many members of
SLA/Abdulshafie were still stuck in Juba because the Sudanese

KHARTOUM 00000339 002 OF 002


Government will not grant the UN/AU flight clearances to return them
to Darfur. Other factions are reticent to be in the same position.
(Note: SLA/Abdulshafie has traditionally had the strongest ties to
the SPLM among any of the SLA factions. End note.)

6. (SBU) Pressed to explain why such a leadership conference would
differ from a similar effort held in Um Rai, North Darfur in January
2007, Ismail explained that the AU, which was responsible for
airlifting rebel leaders to site, had initially neglected to
transport key figures. The Sudanese military then later attacked
the location, disrupting the discussions.

---------------------------------
Force Versus Political Legitimacy
---------------------------------

7. (SBU) Poloff noted that some of the militarily strong movements
(which, like SLA/Unity, tend to be dominated by the Zaghawa tribe)
believe they should hold claim to a greater number of leadership
positions in a unified movement. The militarily weak but
politically strong Fur factions, such as SLA/Abdulwahid, dispute
this claim, which often derails unification discussion. Ismail
dismissed this analysis, saying that military power has fluctuated
throughout the conflict and should not be a determining factor. "No
one can claim he is stronger that the others," he said. "One day
you're strong; one day you're weak. Everything is possible under
the sun. In 2003, the rebels took El Fasher with just 400 fighters.
In 2004, the forces of Minni Minawi (who commanded the most
powerful military force at that time and later became the sole--and
now marginalized--signatory of the Darfur Peace Agreement) were
destroyed in North Darfur and fled to (the Fur stronghold of) Jebel
Marra to regroup. It's not a matter of force. It's a matter of
political legitimacy in the towns." (Note: SLA/Abdulshafie, with
which Ismail is affiliated, commands little military force and lacks
political support even among Abdulshafie's Fur tribe. End note.)

---------------------------
Arab Militias Untrustworthy
---------------------------

8. (SBU) An alliance with Arab militias that have distanced
themselves from the Sudanese Government are a dubious venture, said
Ismail. During meetings in late 2007 with Mahariya militia leader
Hamati, Ismail said that the SLA demanded that Hamati's forces
attack Government areas in order to prove that "they're really
fighting for the people of Darfur." These attacks did not
materialize, and instead, Hamati is engaging in discussions with
Khartoum to renew their military pact, alleged Ismail. (Note: Per
Reftel, this information has been corroborated by three UN and NGO
sources. End note.)

-------
Comment
-------

9. (SBU) Ismail's emphasis on SLA unification prior to negotiations
with the Sudanese Government echoes comments widespread across all
the factions of the SLA, including Abdulwahid's. The movements have
little faith in the international community's ability to wrest
political concessions from Khartoum and are therefore concentrating
on reconsolidating a credible military threat to pressure the
Government. While the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) deploys, the
UN/AU mediation can support--though not interfere in--the
inter-rebel dialogue and focus its efforts in Darfur. These dual
processes may then lay the foundation for constructive negotiations
over the next six to 12 months. End comment.

FERNANDEZ

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO: