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Cablegate: Jamous: Deby Strong, Abdelwahid Al Nur Weak, and Darfur

VZCZCXRO7350
RR RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHNJ #0122/01 0881244
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 281244Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6118
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NDJAMENA 000122

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE, SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF/C AND AF/SPG
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PREF UN AU CD SU
SUBJECT: JAMOUS: DEBY STRONG, ABDELWAHID AL NUR WEAK, AND DARFUR
ELECTIONS IMPOSSIBLE BEFORE PEACE ACCORD

REF: NDJAMENA 117

1. (SBU) Summary: Due to recent defections within two of the major
Chadian opposition movements, President Idriss Deby's Government
"faces no major danger" in the next year, SLA/Unity leader Suleiman
Jamous told Poloffs on March 25. He nonetheless warned that Deby's
overthrow at the instigation of Sudan would "crush" the Darfur rebel
movements and lead to "a true genocide" in the region. Jamous
indicated that elections in Darfur will not be possible before a
political settlement is reached with the Sudanese Government.
Casting doubt on the popular support for rival SLA leader Abdulwahid
al Nur, Jamous said that a deal between Khartoum, SLA/Unity, and the
URF that focused on security should be the focus of the peace
process. He proposed that a single Darfur state "ruled by the rebel
groups," the provision of one-third of the seats in the national
government for Darfurians, the full disarmament of the rebels, and a
complete withdrawal of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) from the
region would be the most effective guarantee to ensure Khartoum's
compliance with a peace agreement.

2. Jamous' comments on fissures within the Chadian rebel community
track generally with what we know from other sources, including the
GOC. That Khartoum's alleged preference for the Arab Soubiane
grates on Nouri and Erdimi reflects deep antagonism by non-Arab
northerners (Zaghawa and Gorane alike) for Chadian Arabs. If
dissension within rebel ranks prevents another attack on N'Djamema
until after the 08 rainy season, so much the better, but it is
important to remember that the initiative lies entirely in rebel
hands: they decide - or not - when and where to move. End summary.


----------------------------
Deby "Faces No Major Danger"
----------------------------

3. (SBU) Meeting with Poloffs on March 25, Sudan Liberation Army
(SLA)/Unity leader Suleiman Jamous predicted that President Deby
"faces no major danger in the near future" and did not anticipate
another large-scale attack on N'djamena in the next year. According
to Jamous, major elements of Mahamat Nouri's Union des Forces de la
Democratie et du Developpment (UFDD) and of Timan Erdimi's Rally of
Forces for Change (RFC) have defected to the Chadian Government. In
addition, Nouri and Erdimi are angry over Khartoum's perceived
support for Ahmed Soubian as the leader of a post-Deby regime,
derailing a coordinated rebel offensive.

4. (SBU) Jamous acknowledged that SLA/Unity was prepared to assist
Deby's Government in its effort to repel the Chadian rebel offensive
in February. After the rebel retreat, SLA/Unity sent a delegation,
consisting of Jamous and several senior SLA commanders, to N'djamena
to "congratulate" Deby. He warned that the collapse of Deby's
government would be catastrophic for Darfur as Khartoum would then
move to eliminate the rebel groups that are fighting on behalf of
Darfurians. "If Bashir overthrows Deby, the main issue will be to
squeeze Darfur," he explained. "They will crush us and a true
genocide will start."

-----------------------------------
No Elections in Darfur Before Peace
-----------------------------------

5. (SBU) A political settlement between Darfur's rebel groups and
the Sudanese Government is a pre-requisite to Darfur's participation
in the elections scheduled for 2009, stated Jamous. "There is no
chance for Darfur in the elections unless we can make a political
deal and have time to prepare before the elections are held," he
said. SLA/Unity has sought an alliance with the Sudan People's
Liberation Movement (SPLM) against "the center" and remains
optimistic that it can work with the "Southerners," which is the
reason that senior SLA commander Kadu attended the SPLM-sponsored
conference for Darfur rebel movements in late 2007.

6. (SBU) However, Jamous explained that the "international community
must know that we're not going to stand in the shade of the
Southerners." Darfur must have an adequate share in the federal
government--approximately one-third of the positions in the national
administration and of the seats in the National
Assembly--commensurate with its population.

--------------------------------------
Abdelwahid: Not As Strong As You Think
--------------------------------------

7. (SBU) Asserting that SLA/Unity is the strongest military force in
Darfur, Jamous dismissed the perception that rival SLA leader
Abdelwahid al Nur is the most influential political leader among
Darfurians. He blamed the international community for

NDJAMENA 00000122 002 OF 002


"mis-assessing" Abdelwahid's popularity in the IDP camps--which he
alleged is only 10-percent of IDPs--and predicted that a political
settlement between SLA/Unity, the United Revolutionary Front (URF),
and Khartoum would leave Abdelwahid isolated. "It would just be him
and Gadura (the chief SLA/Abdelwahid commander) sitting on a
mountain," said Jamous. He called on the international community to
pressure Abdelwahid and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) to
prevent further fragmentation of the movements.

8. (SBU) According to Jamous, both SLA/Unity and the URF were
cross-tribal movements with broad appeal--SLA/Unity because it is
comprised of Arab, Fur, Kubur, and Zaghawa members and the URF
because its leadership consisted of Arabs, Massaleit, and Zaghawa
(reftel). Most IDPs are focused on alleviating their suffering
rather than political goals, meaning they will support any group
that can guarantee security in an agreement with the Government.
(Note: Both SLA/Unity and the URF are dominated by the Zaghawa,
despite the presence of representatives of some other tribes in both
the political and military structures of each movement. End note.)

9. (SBU) Jamous claimed that SLA/Unity has overcome its internal
power struggles and there is now consensus that Abdullah Yehia is
the movement's leader, with Jamous serving as humanitarian
coordinator and Sharif Harir working as the secretary of external
relations. The faction is now governed by a "Council of 51" and has
left some posts in the movement vacant to accommodate defectors from
SLA/Abdelwahid.

---------------------------------
Negotiations to Focus on Security
---------------------------------

10. (SBU) Emphasizing that SLA/Unity is prepared to start
negotiations at any time, Jamous characterized security as paramount
and recommended that the UN/AU mediation follow a model similar to
the Naivasha process: begin with an agreement on interim security
arrangements (like the Machakos Procotol), then address power and
wealth-sharing, and then finalize the security framework. He
claimed that neither he nor SLA/Unity is interested in securing
political positions for themselves, only in addressing the plight of
civilians. Poloff questioned why, if power and wealth-sharing are
unimportant, final security arrangements cannot be negotiated as
soon as possible in order to protect the civilian population.
Jamous replied that power and wealth-sharing were the "check" on
Sudan to adhere to its security commitments.

11. (SBU) "You cannot trust the Government," said Jamous. "When
they find the chance, they won't stop killing civilians."
Consolidating Darfur into a single region "ruled by the rebel
groups," the full disarmament of the rebels, and a complete
withdrawal of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) from the region would
be the most effective security guarantee. In addition, ministerial
posts for Darfurians in the Government of National Unity will ensure
that wealth is dispersed from the "center." The failure of the
Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA), said Jamous, is that the Transitional
Darfur Regional Authority (TDRA) and its Chairman, Minni Minawi, do
not have control over the governors of the three Darfur states.
"This is why I told Minni not to sign."

COMMENT
-------

12. (SBU) Jamous' comments on fissures within the Chadian rebel
community track generally with what we know from other sources,
including the GOC (see septel report on March 26 meeting with the
Chadian Foreign Minister). That Khartoum's alleged preference for
the Arab Soubiane grates on Nouri and Erdimi reflects deep
antagonism by non-Arab northerners (Zaghawa and Gorane alike) for
Chadian Arabs. If dissension within rebel ranks prevents another
attack on N'Djamema until after the 08 rainy season, so much the
better, but it is important to remember that the initiative lies
entirely in rebel hands: they decide - or not - when and where to
move. Nigro

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