Cablegate: Possible Splm-Rizeigat Alliance in South Darfur?

DE RUEHKH #0549/01 1011109
P 101109Z APR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In meetings in Nyala with emboffs on November
7, multiple political leaders reported that the Arab (Baggara)
Rizeigat tribe had created an alliance with the SPLM. However, on
November 7, the Nazir of the Rizeigat denied any association with
the SPLM, scoffing at the idea and calling it part of Sudan's
political game. Although SLM-Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) leaders in
Nyala appeared supportive of the SPLM-Rizeigat partnership,
expressed hope for more coordination with the SPLM, and avowed great
admiration for Salva Kiir, they stated that the SPLM has an almost
non-existent presence in Nyala - one that has not reached out to
SLM-MM. The North Darfur Minister of Health, a prominent SPLM
member, told FieldOff on April 9 that the MOU under discussion grew
out of the recent defection of ten prominent Rizeigat National
Congress Party members to the SPLM, in the continuation of an
alliance born from necessity. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) On April 7, the Fur Maqdum, Ahmad Adam Rijaal, told
emboffs that the SPLM had recently signed an agreement with the
Rizeigat of South Darfur. He stated that the Rizeigat and SPLM are
organizing a meeting in Daein scheduled for April 18 where it is
expected that they will formally announce this alliance.

3. (SBU) Also on April 7, three SLM-MM leaders reported to emboffs
that the Rizeigat and SPLM were close to reaching an agreement.
Hassan Salah Nahas, Khata Arko Minnawi (brother of Minni Minawi),
both of the Security Arrangements Committee, and Mohamed Kobay, a
former representative to the Ceasefire Commission, told emboffs that
seven native Rizeigat administrators from Buram and Daein are
currently visiting Juba to discuss an alliance with the SPLM. They
stated that this coordination is logical, as the Rizeigat have a
historical and cultural affinity with Southerners due to their
nomadic migration patterns during the summer months. However, they
did not trust that an agreement would hold because many Southern
Sudanese still believed that the Rizeigat could return to their
alliance with the GoS at any time (since this tribe had made up many
of the janjaweed employed by the GoS to fight against the SPLA
during the North-South war). Nahas warned that the NCP would
attempt to do everything within its power to break this alleged
alliance between the Rizeigat and the SPLM.

4. (SBU) SLM-MM leaders stated that they were intrigued by the idea
of this partnership, but not optimistic that the SPLM could bring
change to Darfur. They said that if Salva Kiir came to Nyala, he
would get a bigger reception than would President Bashir, but that
there has not been any coordination between SLM-MM and the SPLM in
Nyala. They said that SLM-MM's main concern is not building
alliances, but rather attempting to implement the Darfur Peace
Agreement. They reported that the SPLM has very little presence in
Nyala, but that it may be more active in other areas of south Darfur
such as Daein, where it reportedly maintains its South Darfur
headquarters. Mohamed Kobay said he already doubts the usefulness
of political participation as "there is no freedom for political
activities in Darfur - bad things will happen to you if you look
like you are stronger than the National Congress Party (NCP)."

5. (SBU) Later on April 7, the Nazir of the Rizeigat (who is in a
position to know), Sayyed Musa Madibbo, told emboffs that the
discussion of a SPLM-Rizegat partnership is "completely false." The
Rizeigat Nazir denied SPLM-Rizeigat coordination, stating that these
are "just games" used to stage political attacks. He said that it
is possible that some of the Rizeigat tribal leaders are affiliated
with the SPLM, but their number is very few and almost
insignificant. Last year the SPLM was able to sign up some Rizeigat
irregular forces in the area of Abu Matariq in South Darfur [Note:
Madibbo is also head of the Native Administration, an organization
of traditional leaders of 16 major tribes in Darfur. End Note.]

6. (SBU) The North Darfur Minister of Health, Abdel Shafee Essa
Mustafa, a prominent SPLM member in El Fasher, told FieldOff on
April 9 that the current discussions about the Rizeigat-SPLM
alliance grew out of a defection at the end of March by ten
prominent Rizeigat from the NCP to the SPLM. These officials were
prominent NCP members in Daien, including mayors of given areas, and
the Minister noted that the GoS was not happy about this defection.
He recounted that the Rizeigat-SPLM alliance was not new but had
been born out of necessity, as the Rizeigat needed the South's land
for cattle grazing during the summer months, requiring a
relationship with the SPLM. He added that this relationship
deepened after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement
(CPA) in 2005, when the Rizeigat, employed by the GoS as janjaweed
militias against the SPLA, suddenly found themselves without the
peace dividends offered to the GoS and the SPLM under the CPA. The
Minister noted that this sense of exclusion drove 30,000 Rizeigat
into SPLM ranks since the CPA signing.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: Despite the Rizegat Nazir's denial, something
formal may be in the works between the SPLM and Rizeigat in South
Darfur (the SPLM leadership has not yet confirmed the alliance in

KHARTOUM 00000549 002 OF 002

conversations with us in Juba or Khartoum, but we will continue to
seek confirmation as this is potentially a significant development).
The Rizeigat Nazir stuck to the party line and refused to confirm
the alliance as well. However we question his influence among his
people due to divisions among the Rizeigat themselves (the Nazir's
brother, Ibrahim, is a leader of SLA/Free Will and reportedly signed
an agreement with the GoS in Saudi Arabia in 2007). The SLM-MM
leaders' avowed admiration of the SPLM in general contrasts with
their pessimism regarding the SPLM's organization in South Darfur
(despite the presence in Nyala of Omar Abdulrahman, the Minister of
Agriculture, former SPLA colonel and former confidant of John
Garang). As the SPLM works to transform itself into a truly
national party, it should not only focus on Darfur's many tribes,
but also strengthen its relationships with the DPA signatories.


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