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Cablegate: Gos Flexes Its Muscle in Darfur

VZCZCXRO2637
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0503/01 0941637
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031637Z APR 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0390
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0137
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 000503

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU CD
SUBJECT: GOS FLEXES ITS MUSCLE IN DARFUR


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Within the last two weeks, there are indications
that the Government of Sudan (GoS) is flexing its muscle in Darfur.
Signs of this include: three firefights between Arab
militias/janjaweed and SLM-Minnawi members in the center of
El-Fasher; several Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) parades through IDP
camps; increased janjaweed activity and presence; and apparent
indications of impending fighting between the GoS and the Justice
and Equality Movement (JEM). End SUMMARY.

SHOOTINGS AND FIREFIGHTS
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
2. (SBU) For three consecutive days starting on March 30, 2008,
shooting between Arab militiamen/janjaweed and members of the Sudan
Liberation Movement of Minni Minnawi (SLM-Minnawi) occurred in
El-Fasher proper. The first incident appears to have been
spontaneous violence (resulting in one wounded SLM-Minnawi member
still in critical condition), while later incidents appear to have
been coordinated between the police and Arab militias.

3. (SBU) On March 30, one SLA-Minnawi member exchanged fire with a
GoS soldier in El Fasher. As of April 3, the SLA-Minnawi member
remains in a critical condition in an El-Fasher hospital. One day
later, three vehicles of SLA-Minnawi members came to the central
El-Fasher police station and demanded the arrest of the Arab militia
members who attacked their colleague on March 30. Five vehicles
with a number of Arab militia immediately came to the police station
and the two parties exchanged fire. Also, on March 31, a separate
firefight between three SLA-Minnawi and two Arab militia men
reportedly took place in El-Fasher, resulting in the death of one
SLA-Minnawi member. On April 1, UNDSS also reported more gunshots in
El-Fasher's market, though the parties involved have not yet been
confirmed. (Note: The information in this paragraph is based on
UNDSS situation reports. End Note.)

4. (SBU) On April 2, two members of SLM-Minnawi told emboffs that
the Arab militia/janjaweed violence is part of the GoS's intentional
targeting, marginalization, and harassment of DPA signatory groups.
Eisa Musa, Head of Security and Police, and Adam Ali War, a
Ceasefire Commission representative of SLM-Minni, described the
attacks as the government's effort to fragment Minnawi's force.
They acknowledged that SLM-Minnawi has lost supporters to rival
movements such as the National Redemption Front, as their members
feel isolated, targeted, and not rewarded by the DPA. Musa stated
that it is "very clear" that the government is pushing its
recruitment efforts for the SAF, and placing janjaweed into
positions in the Border Patrol, police, and army. Both Musa and War
doubted that the perpetrators of the shootings would be brought to
justice, as law enforcement and the courts are extensions of the NCP
and "the judicial system and police are political institutions."
War criticized the "total neglect" of the DPA's security protocols,
especially by the government, which uses the janjaweed and militia
as tools to "buy control of Darfur."

5. (SBU) On April 2, locally employed staff observed unusual
movements of heavily armed SLM-Minnawi roaming throughout El-Fasher,
brandishing weapons. Local staff commented that although it is
common for SLM-Minnawi to have arms in the city, the group's current
amount of firepower, high level of awareness, and overall
preparedness were "out of the ordinary." Representatives from other
Darfur rebel groups, including former El Fasher-based JEM reps,
agreed that these displays and gunfights were unusual.

DISPLAY OF FORCE
- - - - - - - - -
6. (SBU) In response to anti-census protests in IDP camps in El
Fasher and Nyala, the SAF and related security groups paraded
through towns in North and South Darfur in full force twice during
the week of March 30. Senior UNAMID personnel remarked at daily
briefings on April 1 and 2 that such shows of force were intended to
"maintain law and order" in the areas. The presence of even more
heavily armed SAF members is also noticeable in El Fasher. The
UNAMID Force Commander on April 2 said he anticipates similar
displays in West Darfur, where anti-census protests are expected
next.

JANJAWEED
- - - - -
7. (SBU) In addition to the three clashes between SLM-Minnawi and
Arab militias during the week of March 30, there have been other
reports of an increased presence of janjaweed in Darfur and their
reintegration into the GoS's multi-layered security apparatus. On
March 27, Abu Bashir Al-Ahmed, Umdah of Abu Shouk camp, high school
teacher, and community activist, told emboff that in the past
several months, janjaweed have been strategically positioned outside
of many IDP camps. Ahmed reported that the janjaweed often display
reckless behavior, drinking alcohol and shooting their weapons at
night. "It terrifies us in the camps," stated Ahmed.

KHARTOUM 00000503 002 OF 003

8. (SBU) UNAMID force protection, civilian police, and military
observers at multiple camps all over Darfur have also noted the
revitalization of janjaweed into Sudanese security structures. On
March 23, Kabkabiya Sector Headquarters the Deputy Camp Commander
recounted for FieldOff an incident in March wherein an estranged
janjaweed fighter turned himself over to UNAMID authorities. This
individual had two official IDs as well, one showing him as a Major
in the janjaweed militia and one showing him as a Corporal in the
SAF.

9. (SBU) Also in a March 23 visit to Nertiti Base Camp Deputy Camp
Commander pointed out to FieldOff dozens of men in the near vicinity
of the camp that he labeled as janjaweed. Pointing to a man on
horseback less than 100 meters from where the UNAMID group was
standing outside the camp, the Deputy Commander explained that
janjaweed often rode by the camp, hiding their rifles under their
clothes to evade the eye of armed UNMAID guards. Despite the
janjaweed's obvious presence, as well as that of other armed Arab
groups, the Camp Commander MAJ Antoine Kayiranga said UNAMID's night
patrols and outreach to janjaweed and Arab leaders in Gorne and
Guldo had been effective in reducing the incidents of banditry and
in creating better communication with other armed groups.

10. (SBU) In a March 25 meeting the Secretary General of the
Transitional Darfur Regional Authority, Ishaq Ahmed Abdul Rahman,
told emboffs that janjaweed inside El-Fasher are totally integrated
into the local police, the Popular Defense Forces, the border
intelligence, and the central reserve police. He claimed that the
National Intelligence and Security Service is responsible for the
coordination between Arab militias, janjaweed, and the security
apparatus. He added this noticeable presence of the janjaweed has
created a general concern among the local population about the
legitimacy of law enforcement.

IMPENDING FIGHT BETWEEN GoS AND JEM?
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
11. (SBU) In the April 1 UNAMID Morning Brief, the Chief of
UNAMID's military intelligence unit reported on March 31
conversations between UNAMID and GoS security operatives. One of
these conversations focused on JEM activities in West Darfur. The
GoS operatives reportedly told UNAMID about JEM plans for an attack
against GoS positions. FieldOff spoke with JEM Field Commander GEN
Mohamed Beshier following this briefing, and Beshier adamantly
denied any such JEM plans, noting that JEM areas, particularly Jebel
Moun, were relatively calm in recent days. [NOTE: Over the past
four months Beshier has been forthcoming regarding JEM military
plans, often reporting when and where JEM was planning attacks in
West Darfur before they took place. While rebel leaders are not
always the most trustworthy of sources, Beshier has been reliable
with his information to date. END NOTE]. Beshier assessed that the
GoS made the statement as a pretext for unilateral GoS military
action against JEM in West Darfur. In a subsequent conversation
with Joint Mediation Support Team member Muin Shreim, Muin told
FieldOff he had had a similar exchange with a GoS interlocutor when
discussing a possible visit in mid-April by the Special Envoys to
Jebel Moun to meet JEM representatives. The GoS contact advised
Muin "not to go anytime soon," lending further credence to the
likelihood of impending military action in the region.

12. (SBU) FieldOff reported this information to the UNAMID Chief of
Staff and Chief of Planning, the latter of whom is planning a trip
to the Kulbus/Silea area on April 4 to investigate [NOTE: UNAMID
Chief of Staff remarked to emboffs the week of March 16 that GoS
troop movements in West Darfur indicate that it is "planning to try
to wipe out JEM once and for all." END NOTE]. UNAMID on April 2
reported sightings of GoS attack helicopters over El Geneina, where,
according to JEM sources in Abeche, at least 100 injured Chadian
rebels retreated after having been beaten back by the Government of
Chad (GoC) in fighting over the past 24 hours [NOTE: One JEM source
reported that the GoC was "celebrating" in Abeche on April 2. END
NOTE]. JEM sources added that 50 Chadian rebel vehicles had been
destroyed in the "severe" fighting that took place in Ade Beida, and
UNAMID confirmed that NGOs had been evacuated from that area to El
Geneina.

COMMENT
- - - -
13. (SBU) It is possible that the GoS may be racing to "complete
the job" in Darfur before UNAMID troops deploy in greater numbers.
This certainly appears to be the case with JEM, which the GOS views
as its only real adversary. However government forces in Darfur
appear to be taking a more muscular approach at the moment toward
SLM/Minawi as well. The increased aggression on the part of
janjaweed forces in and around El Fasher is troubling, and seems to
be an attempt at intimidating and marginalizing the insurgents. The
display of force at an IDP camp in El Fasher makes less sense,

KHARTOUM 00000503 003 OF 003


however, especially as its outcome may have led to IDP protests
against the census in the first place.

FERNANDEZ

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