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Cablegate: Unamid Force Commander's Vision of Deployment

VZCZCXRO4558
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #0437/01 0850752
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 250752Z MAR 08 ZDK PER NUMEROUS REQUESTS
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0301
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000437

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR D, AF A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON, AF/SPG, S/CRS, IO, NEA FOR
DAS GRAY
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: UNAMID FORCE COMMANDER'S VISION OF DEPLOYMENT

REF: KHARTOUM 434

KHARTOUM 00000437 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) SUMMARY. A March 24 conversation with UNAMID Force
Commander (FC) Martin Luther Agwai revealed the depth of the chasm
between the vision on the ground in El Fasher and at UN Headquarters
in New York of UNAMID's short-term deployment plan. Like other
UNAMID officials (reftel), the FC cited logistics as the greatest
impediment to expedited deployment. However, his deployment plan
takes into account not only operational and military realities but
political ramifications as well, particularly with regard to the
Egyptian and Ethiopian battalions. Twice in the conversation the FC
stated that he was preparing to tell the UN "no" on certain
deployment elements it was proposing. END SUMMARY.

"IF I HAD MY WAY . . ."
------------------------
2. (SBU) On March 24, his first full day back at UNAMID El Fasher
Headquarters after conferences in Kigali, FC Agwai articulated for
FieldOff his plan for short-term UNAMID deployment. Reftel
speculated there might be a disconnect between UNAMID leadership's
vision of UNAMID deployment and the FC's own vision, but it was
clear in the course of conversation that there is a gap only between
El Fasher (UNAMID HQ) and UN HQ in New York thinking. As his
advisers had indicated, the FC highlighted as his top priorities
getting the Egyptian battalion into Sector North and the Ethiopian
battalion into Sector West to ensure a UNAMID presence in what he
called "areas of need." He was keen to move the Rwandans into Korma
and into Sector South as four Nigerian battalions there begin to
rotate in April/May, in order to have a better "mixture" of troop
contributor nationalities in an area that has traditionally been
staffed by Nigerians.

3. (SBU) However, the FC acknowledged that an influx of new
battalions (Egypt and Ethiopia included) would cause undue
logistical strain on the mission, a strain which, in his assessment,
constituted the most difficult part of deploying UNAMID quickly.
"If I had my way," the FC mused, "I would expand existing camps and
support the ten existing battalions, which would be a better use of
resources and would result in better synergy for the mission than
outfitting new ones." He viewed an increase in capabilities and
equipment for the one Senegalese, four Nigerian and four Rwandan
battalions as a more effective way to bolster UNAMID's image and
credibility. He worried in particular about the demand that would
be put on UNAMID slender air assets when the four Nigerian
battalions would rotate out in April/May, while the new Egyptian and
Ethiopian battalions would rotate in at the same time.

"I WILL TELL THE UN NO"
-----------------------
4. (SBU) Turning to the topic of Egyptian and Ethiopian deployments,
the FC said the Egyptian Government had still not formally agreed to
re-locate its pledged battalion from Sector South to Sector North.
The FC is keen to split battalions regionally so as to prevent
strain on re-supply lines, but he is not optimistic that the
Egyptians share this view. Following extensive meetings with the
Egyptian Ministry of Defense in Cairo, the FC could get only
conditions rather than commitments on Egypt's plans for its
battalion. According to the FC, whether Egypt will deploy is a big
"if," dependent upon assurances that the battalion would not be
split into two locations (the FC had wanted to divide it between Umm
Kadada and Shangil Tobayi so as to move an existing Rwandan
battalion from Shangil Tobayi to Korma). Its deployment is also
contingent upon an assurance that an Egyptian engineering company
would go with it to Umm Kadada. The FC admitted that some of his
advisors told him to strike a deal with Egypt on the change of venue
for its incoming battalion before approaching Ethiopia with the same
request for its own incoming troops (the FC wants to move the
Ethiopians from El Fasher to the very sensitive and unstable
Kulbus/Silea area, where a UNAMID presence is desperately needed).
However, the FC intended to take advantage of a March 24 visit to El
Fasher by an Ethiopian reconnaissance team, led by a Major General,
to present his plan.

5. (SBU) The FC mentioned the offers from both Egypt and Ethiopia of
one additional battalion each. He and his staff were skeptical
about the Egyptian offer, as Egyptian troops are not viewed
favorably, either by the mission leadership or by the local
populations [NOTE: Egyptians, considered pro-Khartoum "Arabs" by
many Darfur locals, are poorly received, if received at all, in many
locations by rebels and IDPs. Despite his desire to send a
battalion as soon as possible to the town of Korma, the FC is ready
to wait to send the Rwandans there instead of the Egyptians, as the
rebels in the area object to "Arab" peacekeepers. Further, the FC
said the main reason why Egypt would consider deploying to Umm
Kadada vice Shangil Tobayi was because of the presence of an IDP
camp in the latter, where its peacekeepers would not get a good

KHARTOUM 00000437 002 OF 002


reception. END NOTE].

6. (SBU) On the Ethiopian offer, the FC said that he had heard
nothing formal in this regard but that if he did, he would tell the
UN no. "What the UN does not understand," he explained, "is that to
absorb a new battalion, we will have to drop a battalion off the
list. Otherwise, we will be raising the troop ceiling beyond our
mandated strength." He speculated that the additional Egyptian and
Ethiopian battalions, if absorbed, would come in at the likely
expense of the Thai and Nepalese battalions, a "strategy" to which
he strenuously objected, on the basis that the "predominantly"
African character of UNAMID did not mean an "entirely" African
character.

COMMENT
-------
7. (SBU) As reported reftel, the divide appears to be deepening
between UNAMID on the ground and UN HQ with regard to troop
deployment. It seems that New York may be making promises it cannot
keep, as seen in Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's reported pledge to
President Bashir that UNAMID would accept additional Egyptian and
Ethiopian battalions. This instance could merit intervention with
the SYG to clarify what he did or did not say on this matter and to
determine if the SYG is trying to go it alone on Darfur decisions.
Despite the political pressures the UN is facing regarding Darfur
deployment, for the UNAMID mission to be a success there needs to be
better coordination and consultation with the Force Commander in El
Fasher and DPKO.

8. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.

FERNANDEZ

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