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Cablegate: Tccs Force Agwai to Change Unamid Priorities

VZCZCXRO0589
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0650/01 1200958
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 290958Z APR 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0673
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0186
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 0231
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 0310
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000650

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS, AF/C, IO, NSC FOR BPITTMAN AND CHUDSON
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KPKO SOCI AU UNSC CD ET SU
SUBJECT: TCCS FORCE AGWAI TO CHANGE UNAMID PRIORITIES

REF: A. KHARTOUM 434
B. KHARTOUM 502
C. KHARTOUM 573

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur
(UNAMID) Force Commander (FC) Agwai compromised on his number one
deployment priority while in Addis Ababa, according to UNAMID's
Chief of Planning. As he did with the Egyptians in Um Kadada (ref
A), Agwai agreed to let the Ethiopian battalion deploy as a whole
only to one location, Kulbus, instead of splitting it between Kulbus
and Silea, as had been his intention, given the rampant insecurity
in that part of the Chad-Sudan border. Problems on the engineering
and procurement sides of the house are preventing Agwai's other top
priority, construction of a camp at Korma, from commencing, and lack
of staffing in UNAMID's Movement Control (MOVCON) division is
prolonging delays in getting equipment to forces on the ground.
This situation is exacerbated by the possible departures within the
next month of the Chief of Staff and the Deputy Force Commander,
leading the Planning Chief to ask, "Who is Agwai going to lean on
then?" END SUMMARY.

ETHIOPIANS PLAYING SAME GAME AS EGYPTIANS
-----------------------------------------
2. (SBU) In an April 27 meeting, UNAMID Chief of Planning debriefed
FieldOff on his 16-19 April visit with FC Agwai to Addis Ababa
[NOTE: Agwai proceeded to New York after his Addis stop and is
expected to return to Sudan within the coming days. END NOTE]. He
described the FC's meeting with the Ethiopian Army Chief of Staff,
Samora Yunis, as a "breath of fresh air after Cairo," where the FC
had had a contentious meeting with Egyptian MoD officials as he
attempted to sway them to re-locate their pledged battalion from
Sector South to Sector North (ref A).

3. (SBU) According to the Planning Chief, Yunis was upfront with the
FC about the GoE's unhappiness at the "lack of notice" about the
FC's intention to re-locate Ethiopia's pledged battalion from the
relatively quiet Sector North El Fasher Headquarters to more
volatile Kulbus and Silea in Sector West (ref A), per the FC's
designation of these locations as priority spots for UNAMID, given
the rampant insecurity in this area of the Chad-Sudan border. Yunis
expressed concern that this area was controlled by the
Chadian-supported Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) rebel group,
whom he had been trying unsuccessfully to contact as a pre-emptive
measure ahead of the battalion's eventual arrival. Yunis mentioned
that there was "an Eritrean brigadier" operating in JEM's ranks in
this territory, which raised some flags for the GoE [NOTE: Several
high-ranking JEM leaders and field commanders carry Eritrean, as
well as Chadian, passports. END NOTE].

4. (SBU) As a compromise, Yunis told the FC that the Ethiopian
battalion would not occupy both Kulbus and Silea initially but would
go first as a whole to Kulbus in order to build confidence with the
Government of Sudan, with JEM and with local populations. (Comment:
This seems unnecessary, given the "special" relationship that
already exists between the GoE and the GoS. End comment.) Yunis
said the Ethiopian battalion would patrol to Silea but would not
occupy that area for at least the first three months of the
battalion's deployment. Egypt struck a similar deal when the FC
asked the Egyptian MoD in March to re-locate its pledged battalion
from the calmer Sector South Nyala Headquarters to more unsettled Um
Kadada and Shangil Tobaye in Sector North as part of his
prioritization plans for deployment. The Egyptians agreed to go as
a full unit only to Um Kadada (there are currently 69 Egyptians
there), which the FC now considers a "wasted deployment."

5. (SBU) FieldOff pressed the Planning Chief on the FC's willingness
to compromise on his deployment priorities for Sector West,
especially on his failure to dictate terms as Force Commander on a
battalion whiQQQ1CVQQ
v would engage with JEM
himself upon his return to Darfur. The Planning Chief acknowledged,
however, that neither the FC nor he had had time in fall 2007 to
focus on where to deploy the additional Egyptian and Ethiopian
battalions which UN HQ ordered them to accept, since the FC was
preoccupied with sorting out MSA payments for rebel commanders and
since the Planning Chief was the Acting Chief of Staff at the time.
"That's how we got ourselves into this mess," he admitted, when they
made the decision at that time to "dump" the additional battalions
into the El Fasher and Nyala super-camps.

OPERATIONAL PROBLEMS HINDER OTHER FC PRIORITIES
--------------------------------------------- --
6. (SBU) In addition to the Ethiopian refusal to deploy to Silea,

KHARTOUM 00000650 002 OF 002


engineering, contracting and procuring problems threaten other FC
deployment priorities. In particular, the Planning Chief noted that
"nothing has happened on Korma," where the FC planned to have
constructed a new camp for a rotating Rwandan battalion, a second
priority for 2008 deployment (ref A). Engineering contracts for
this construction had not yet been competed, and "you know how long
it takes the UN to do that," the Chief of Planning warned. Contrary
to the Acting Chief of Integrated Support Services' assurances in
ref c, construction that was to have begun on the new Silea camp in
mid-April has not yet begun, as land there has not yet been
procured.

7. (SBU) Persistent issues with local contractors continue to plague
the delivery of equipment to TCCs. According to the Planning Chief,
over 70 items for the Chinese engineering party in Nyala still
remain in Port Sudan due to a local contractor issue that is "out of
our control." The Planning Chief noted that much of the Egyptian
equipment destined for Um Kadada had already been moved but that
forklifts needed to get this equipment off the trucks were not
available. Finally, the UN had yet to negotiate contracts with
local traQJQQu this department had only a
recently-arrived Chief to coordinate its operations.

GAPS IN SENIOR LEADERSHIP MAKE EVERYTHING WORSE
--------------------------------------------- --
8. (SBU) It was not only gaps at the working level that were
plaguing UNAMID deployment progress, but potential vacancies at the
top as well, starting with the British Chief of Staff (CoS), said
the Planning Chief. Despite an alleged order by UN Department of
Peacekeeping Operations Chief Guhenno for the FC and the Joint
Special Representative to engage the GoS personally on extending the
CoS' contract until the end of May, no such intervention has yet
been made. If the GoS insists, as expected, that the CoS leave by
30 April, then Chief Operations Officer COL Joseph Prah (Ghana) will
likely be Acting, a decision that even El Fasher DPA signatory rebel
movements admit will be a "catastrophe" for the mission (Prah is
currently seized with getting his holiday plans approved rather than
dealing with operational problems in the mission).

9. (SBU) The Planning Chief was also concerned that the Rwandan
Deputy Force Commander (D/FC) may return to El Fasher on May 4 only
to pack his bags and leave the mission, due to allegations by a
Spanish investigation about the murder of a Canadian priest in
Rwanda in 1997. The D/FC's Military Assistant has not confirmed the
Deputy's departure from UNAMID, and most people in the mission are
holding out hope he will stay. If he and the CoS go, the Planning
Chief wondered aloud, "who will Agwai lean on then?"

COMMENT
-------
10. (SBU) UNAMID needs to get its priorities straight, and this
necessity is something UN HQ in New York needs to respect, as do
TCCs. It is already bad enough that Secretary-General (SYG) Ban
Ki-moon struck a unilateral deal with President Bashir in Dakar by
which he accepted an additional battalion from Egypt and Ethiopia
for UNAMID without the concurrence of the Force Commander, leaving
the FC to re-jigger deployment plans to accommodate them. Now TCCs
are acting like the GoS in dictating to the FC where they do and do
not want to deploy, giving everyone else in this mission final say
over deployment except for the one person who should be informing
all military decisions. The loss of senior UNAMID personnel would
not be felt to such a degree if there were a hard and fast
deployment plan in place, rather than one that changes at the whim
of certain TCCs. Giving TCCs this kind of latitude is perhaps
unavoidable but remains a dangerous precedent to set, and UN HQ
should step in to stop it.

11. (SBU) With its additional battalion to Um Kadada, Egypt is now
the third largest troop contributor to UNAMID, and as such will
likely seek a Sector Commander appointment. From UNAMID's
perspective, such an appointment would be a mistake, as it considers
Egyptian troops ineffective, disliked by Darfuris, and complicit
with the GoS but deals made elsewhere may preclude a more effective
use of resources on the ground in Darfur.

12. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.

FERNANDEZ

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