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Cablegate: Splm El Fasher Reps Give Mixed Views On Darfur Rebel

VZCZCXRO9900
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0476/01 0920907
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 010907Z APR 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0354
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0130
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000476

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS, AF/C
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU CD
SUBJECT: SPLM EL FASHER REPS GIVE MIXED VIEWS ON DARFUR REBEL
PROSPECTS


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In two separate conversations on March 30 and 31,
El Fasher representatives of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement
(SPLM) gave mixed messages on prospects for unifying Darfur rebels
in an as-yet undated second round of talks in Juba. One group,
chaired by an Acting Secretary-General, was optimistic about the
SPLM's ability to bring Sudan Liberation Army (SLA)/Abdulwahid and
Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)/Khalil Ibrahim to the talks.
The other representative, who currently serves as the Minister of
Health of North Darfur, was more pessimistic about JEM participation
in eventual Juba talks but optimistic about the ability of
traditional Darfur leaders to unify Abdulwahid and SLA faction
leader Abdulshafie under one SLA umbrella. Both groups of SPLM reps
were reluctant to provide details about the Juba meeting but were
nevertheless convinced about the SPLM's ability to bring about a
tangible result from the rebels, whenever the talks may be. END
SUMMARY.

SPLM TIGHT-LIPPED ABOUT DETAILS OF JUBA TALKS PART II
--------------------------------------------- --------
2. (SBU) In two separate conversations with FieldOff on March 30 and
31, El Fasher representatives of the SPLM acknowledged the advent of
a second round of talks in Juba among Darfur rebel groups aimed at
bridging differences remaining after the last round in fall 2007.
Acting Secretary General Sayyed Abdullah Husseini mentioned SPLM
plans to host a second meeting in Juba in the near future to
continue rebel reunification efforts, adding that he had been in
Juba March 15 to conduct outreach with rebel reps ahead of the
upcoming talks. He said that SPLM Deputy Abdul Aziz Helou had been
conducting similar SPLM shuttle diplomacy among the Darfur Peace
Agreement (DPA) non-signatory movements to encourage them to
participate (see septel of CDA Fernandez's meeting with Helou). He
added that Abdul Aziz would be in El Fasher in the near future,
along with Yassir Arman, who would come to Darfur "in ten days" to
jumpstart SPLM's political activities in the region. Sayyed was
optimistic that Abdul Aziz would win over even the "very moody"
Abdulwahid, who, like JEM's Khalil, was reluctant to go to Juba for
fear of being coerced into negotiations prematurely. Sayyed
nevertheless considered that Abdulwahid shared the SPLM's "vision of
change" and would come to Juba accordingly.

3. (SBU) There were differences of opinion among SPLM interlocutors
regarding the participation of JEM's Khalil Ibrahim in forthcoming
Juba talks. Sayyed assessed that despite the SPLM's and JEM's
"ideological differences," both agreed on the marginalization of
Darfur, and that would be the tie that binds them. Sayyed believed
Khalil would come to the second round of Juba talks and that
existing coalitions would welcome his participation. Minister of
Health and prominent SPLM member in El Fasher Abdulshafie Eisa
Mustafa expected the second Juba round to focus on unifying an
agenda for eventual negotiations with the Government of Sudan (GoS),
something he could never see Khalil agreeing to. "Khalil's own
agenda is his problem," Mustafa explained. "He is refusing to go to
Juba because he wantst talk to the GoS separately, as JEM, not as
a Darfurian." Mustafa predicted that even if SPLM leadership
outreach succeeded in winning Khalil over (which Mustafa doubted),
Khalil would not join a common rebel platform in Juba. Mustafa
advised that "if you want to press Khalil, you have to start with
[Chadian President] Deby." He acknowledged that Deby and Khalil
were supporting each other but that it was Sudan Islamist leader
Hasan al-Turabi, not Deby, who was directing Khalil to stay away
from Juba talks, although Turabi denies this. (Note: Recent
reporting indicates that there is a split between Khalil Ibrahim and
President Deby, which these SPLM contacts were not aware of. End
note).

AMBITIOUS SLA EXPECTATIONS
--------------------------
4. (SBU) Mustafa was cautiously optimistic that SLA/Unity would join
a unified SLA during the course of a second Juba meeting, but only
after "good talks" with SLA/Unity leader Sharif Harir. Mustafa did
not think it would be difficult to engage Harir but worried that his
hunger for power, like that of Abdulwahid, would ultimately
undermine attempts to truly unify SLA, since Harir would be
jockeying for a leadership position with Abdulwahid. URF leader
Abdulshafie, on the other hand, was more malleable, according to
Mustafa, and would accept a position as Deputy under Abdulwahid as
part of a unified SLA. Mustafa said he had last spoken with
Abdulshafie on March 28 and Abdulshafie had at that time indicated
he was ready for peace talks with the GoS.

5. (SBU) FieldOff expressed doubt that SPLM would be able to unite
the fair-weather friends Abdulwahid and Abdulshafie. Mustafa
insisted that this unification would happen from the inside out:
traditional structures and leaders, such as the Dimlig and the
Maqdum, would be the ones to bring pressure to bear on both
Abdulwahid and Abdulshafie to unite. FieldOff followed up with the

KHARTOUM 00000476 002 OF 002


El Fasher Dimlig after the SPLM discussion to ask about the
viability of such a scheme; the Dimlig knew nothing of this tactic.

COMMENT
-------
6. (SBU) Despite the lack of concrete details about the second round
of Juba reunification talks, the tone of SPLM interlocutors in El
Fasher indicates that SPLM will forge ahead with the conference.
The SPLM office in El Fasher is still trying to get its sealegs - no
real Secretary-General, very little outreach, despite what it claims
to be a "huge" constituency in Darfur - which may account for its
hush-hush attitude with regard to its strategy for Juba talks, as
well as to its political affiliations and elections strategy (about
which they would say nothing for fear of "losing constituencies").
The Minister of Health seems much more well-connected; he made a
point of mentioning that he had attended secondary school with
Sharif Harir, that his brother was currently with Abdulshafie, and
that he knows Abdulwahid very well. Given the personalities
involved in this reunification process, it would seem that
high-level outreach to the SLA leaders would be more likely to
provoke a positive response to Juba Part 2 than would outreach by
traditional leaders, who typically serve only to convey Abdulwahid's
messages. The anticipated visit of the overworked Abdel Aziz Helou
to Darfur in the coming weeks could advance the SPLM's strategy both
on rebel unification and elections in Darfur but there is much for
them to do.

7. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.

FERNANDEZ

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