Cablegate: Urf Announces Final Consolidation

DE RUEHKH #0567/01 1050515
O 140515Z APR 08





E.O. 12958: N/A


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1. (SBU) Four months after the close of SPLM-hosted Darfur movement
consolidation talks in Juba, the United Resistance Front (URF) has
announced its final consolidation. The coalition represents five
factions that includes Massaleit and Arab representatives but is
dominated by Zaghawa JEM/Collective Leadership. The announcement
brings the total number of major Darfur rebel movements down to
five: URF, Khalil Ibrahim's Justice and Equality Movement (JEM),
Adelwahid Nur's SLM faction, Ahmed Abdelshafie's SLM faction, and
Abdallah Yahyia's SLA/Unity. The latter group is being actively
courted by the URF, though to mixed success. The URF's stated
demands for any forthcoming peace agreement include a unified Darfur
region; concrete commitments to development to facilitate IDP
returns; effective, population-based power distribution; URF
absorption into the SAF; comprehensive wealth-sharing principles to
include hawakir (traditional land tenure); and reinstitution of
Darfur's borders as of 1956. END SUMMARY.

URF Structure Finalized

2. (SBU) The United Resistance Front (URF) announced its leadership
structure during an April 8 press conference in Juba. The movement
is a conglomerate of five separate movements: the Arab-dominated
United Revolutionary Forces Front (URFF), SLA-Field Command, the
National Movement for Reform and Development (NMRD), SLA-Khamis
Abdullah, and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)/Collective
Leadership. The URF leadership structure is composed of three
councils: a "Collective Presidency," a "United Military Command,"
and a general secretariat. Members of these three organs include,
respectively, Bahar Idriss Abu Gharda, Khamis Abdullah Abubaker,
Ibrahim Ahmed Abuzadein, Sharif Adam Mansour, and Adam Ali Shogar in
the presidency; Adam Bahkeit, the "Vice Commander-in-Chief for
Supervisory Administration" name unknown, Yacine Yousuf (Logistics),
Abdelrahman Mousa (Training), and Abdullah Banda (Operations) in the
military command; and Mansour el Bab and Mansour Ibrahim in the
general secretariat. In addition to these three councils, there are
three oversight organs: a sixty-one person Consultative Monitoring
Council, a Convention Council, and an Administrative Cell. El Hadi
el Jebr Duar is the movement's spokesperson, and Sharif Adam Mosul
is the Secretary General.

3. (SBU) Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) Darfur Taskforce
Chairman and Deputy Secretary General Abdelaziz Helou opened the
press conference by noting that while the URF "could have announced
anywhere, they chose to return to Juba to give credit to the SPLM."
He called on the URF to consider unification with the remaining
Darfur movements, and called on SLA/Unity leader Abdullah Yahyia,
SLA faction leader Abdelwahid Nur, JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim, and
Ahmed Abdelshafie to do the same. "If these five movements agree to
further pursue the process of unification, there are good prospects
that a complete unification under one umbrella can be achieved."

URF Demands for Peace

4. (SBU) According to URF Collective Presidency Chairman Bahar
Idriss Abu Gharda, the movements demands the following as part of
any political settlement: unification of the three Darfur states
into a single region; a commitment to development in the region to
facilitate IDP returns; equitable power distribution based on
Darfur's population; integration of the URF into the SAF;
comprehensive wealth-sharing principles to include hawakir
(traditional land rights); and reinstitution of Darfur's 1956
border. Abu Gharda noted that the URF is ready for peace talks "if
Khartoum is ready, but should Khartoum opt for other courses of
action, the URF is prepared to counter." The movement characterized
Khartoum as unable to commit to "reasonable peace talks" given
ongoing attempts by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) to retake
rebel-held territory in Darfur.
Electoral Alliance with SPLM

5. (SBU) Asked whether the URF would align with the SPLM in an
electoral coalition, Abu Gharda was evasive in his answer. "All
marginalized people of Sudan benefit from the efforts of the SPLM,
but our focus is now on bringing stability to Darfur and its
people." (Note: Per Ref. A, Abu Gharda has previously committed to
"full coordination" with the SPLM on an election strategy, including

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the possible postponement of elections if the SPLM takes this track.
End note.)

6. (SBU) SPLM Taskforce Chairman Abdelaziz Helou noted that SPLM
participation in the coming peace talks was paramount. "SPLM knows
very well the suffering of the Darfur people and plans to
participate in the talks as full partners in the GNU." He further
detailed SPLM actions to contribute to a durable peace in Darfur.
"While we participated in Abuja, we had no control. Now the SPLM
fights in two fields: We push for the unification of the movements
in order that they have a joint negotiating position, and we
negotiate with the NCP in order that the GNU adopts a common
position reflective of NCP and SPLM views before the peace talks

No Census Before Peace

7. (SBU) When asked about the April 15 national census and whether
the URF supported it being carried out in Darfur, Abu Gharda noted
that the URF is not part of the "census-making process," but that
the security situation is not conducive to a census and that the
focus now needs to be on consolidation of the movements and
forthcoming peace talks. The census and elections should be
considered only after a peace settlement is achieved.

8. (SBU) SPLM Deputy Secretary General Anne Itto attempted to
redirect Abu Gharda's response, reiterating the socio-economic
importance of the census for "all Sudanese" and calling on the
Government of National Unity (GNU) to enact and abide by a ceasefire
for the duration of the count. "We are aware of the security
situation in Darfur and recognize that it may not be able to get a
fair count." Responding to a follow-on question about the
still-unresolved standoff over lack of questions about ethnicity and
religion, Itto noted that "recognition of the diversity of Sudan is
what the SPLM fought for, and what is being fought for now in
Darfur. The SPLM will not consider the census to be official should
questions on religion and ethnicity be excluded." Note: These
comments were made before the SPLM announced on April 13 that they
would postpone the census. End note.)

Prospects for Further Rebel Unity

9. (SBU) At a private dinner following the press conference, URF
Secretary General Sharif Adam Mosul told ConGen PolOff that

"slightly more than forty-eight hours" before the April 8 URF
announcement, field commanders representing Abdullah Yahiya's
SLA/Unity signed an accord with the URF to join the rebel coalition.
Mosul maintained the URF had withheld announcing this fact during
the press conference because they were waiting on direct discussions
between Yehia and Abu Gharda and for Yahyia's commitment in writing.
URF de-facto external affairs secretary Tadjedine Niam appeared
displeased with Mosul's revelation to PolOff and allowed only that
talks with SLA/Unity are going "quite well, better than most had
expected." Mosul continued, noting that "with Yahyia on board, once
we get Abdelshafie we will represent seventy percent of Darfur."
(Note: Most independent analysts believe Abdelshafie to be near
irrelevance in both political and military terms, though he has
long-standing ties to the SPLM. End note.)

10. (SBU) ConGen PolOff noted that Abdelshafie had shown a
preference for unification in a different direction -- with URF
moving into his SLM faction. Interlocutors criticized bitterly the
threat that "fanatical egos" posed to peace in Darfur. "Khalil
Ibrahim is pursuing an isolationist position that does nothing for
Darfur and feeds him right into the palms of the NCP," Niam noted.
While Niam and others termed Ahmed Abdelshafie "more manageable,"
Niam argued that comprehensive unification was not necessary for a
successful political settlement.

11. (SBU) In marked contrast to public statements at the press
conference, URF officials spoke openly about the prospects for
Darfur/SPLM or even URF/SPLM coordination during the upcoming
elections. Secretary General Mosul (by far, the most optimistic of
the dinner guests) noted that should there be a peace agreement in
Darfur, an electoral coalition would be possible.


12. (SBU) While the presence of the URFF and SLA/Khamis Abdullah
under the umbrella movement add Arab and Massaleit elements, the URF
remains dominated by the Zaghawa of JEM/CL previously affiliated
with Khalil Ibrahim's JEM. SLA/Unity's position on a coalition with

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the URF remains unclear, however, with some elements indifferent and
other key SLA/Unity leaders preferring further consultation with
field commanders before any formal commitment (Ref. B). End

13. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.


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