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Cablegate: Ncp "Afraid of Itself" in Jem Incursion Intrigue

VZCZCXRO1520
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0718/01 1330846
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 120846Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0783
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000718

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: NCP "AFRAID OF ITSELF" IN JEM INCURSION INTRIGUE

1. (SBU) The day of the JEM attack on Omdurman May 10, on the
margins of party discussions in preparation for the second SPLM
General Conference, CDA Fernandez caught up with party leaders to
discuss fears and intrigue in Khartoum caused by reports of the
(then rumored) attack by the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) led
by Darfur rebel Khalil Ibrahim and related issues.

2. (SBU) The SPLM were highly amused by the NCP's unusual discomfort
at the thought of a JEM attack deep inside Sudan. FM Deng Alor told
CDA that what really concerns the NCP is not so much Khalil but "the
enemy within. They are afraid of themselves" and worry that Ibrahim
could have allies inside Khartoum from the large Darfuri community
in the capital, the tight-knit network of Zaghawa merchants and
traders in Omdurman who are part of the livestock trade, or even
worse, among the NCP and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF). "There are
factions within the NCP and SAF who may still have a relationship
with JEM," he noted "and the NCP leadership fears that Khalil would
not have attempted this without a fifth column."

3. (SBU) Alor noted that FVP Salva Kiir had been called by VP Ali
Osman Taha early on the morning of May 10 to come to Khartoum "to
take over defense of the area" as acting President in the absence of
President Al-Bashir who is on an unannounced visit to Saudi Arabia
(due to return later on May 10). Taha had also requested that a
joint SPLA-SAF Joint Integrated Unit (JIU) should be used in a
possible defense of the capital. Incredibly, he added that the SPLA
might want to move their more mobile units north from Unity and
Upper Nile states to assist in the defense. Jonglei State Governor
Kuol Manyang, a daring former SPLA commander, laughed that the SPLA
should move into Kosti in White Nile state (a traditional military
marshalling area for invading the South) in preparation for "helping
our brothers in the North."

4. (SBU) SPLM Abyei rep Edward Lino gleefully chimed in expecting
that the NCP's former patron Dr. Hassan al-Turabi could be arrested
at any time (Al-Turabi - who was in fact arrested May 12 as reported
septel - has claimed for several years now to have no relations with
his erstwhile protege, Khalil Ibrahim). Alor retorted "he may be
arrested, or he could be the one arresting them!" The consensus of
these seasoned adversaries of the NCP was that nothing scares the
usually disciplined NCP as much as internal division and infighting
and that, even if this threat is exaggerated or blunted, there is a
certain level of dissatisfaction within the region who feel that the
NCP is either too corrupt, too Islamist or not Islamist enough, too
soft towards the Americans or too tough on the Darfuris and that
Al-Bashir is allowing Sudan and the regime to slowly drift towards
the abyss. The SPLMers, who admitted to being in contact with
Chadian President Deby, claimed that the Chadians are indeed helping
Ibrahim but "this is not a foreign invasion, these are Sudanese."

5. (SBU) Eventually changing the subject after much laughter at the
NCP's expense, Alor said that the NCP had still made another interim
solution proposal for the disputed region of Abyei which excluded
Meiram, Nyama and Heglig. While the SPLM is willing to exclude the
all-Arab area of Meiram, they want the two other areas for the South
and the latest proposal will be rejected. Kiir himself has decided
that if Abyei is not solved in the next round of US-Sudanese talks
to the SPLM's satisfaction, they will have nothing more to do with
this initiative to improve relations between the U.S. and NCP. CDA
Fernandez responded that the USG sees fulfillment of the CPA,
especially the Abyei Protocol, as an essential element of a possible
improvement in Sudanese-American relations. The exclusion of
oil-rich Heglig was a deal-breaker for the SPLM in earlier
discussions.

6. (SBU) In an earlier meeting with acting CG Tariot, SPLA Deputy
Chief of Staff BG Salva Mathok thought that JEM could not
successfully threaten the capital "unless they have support from the
inside." Mathok, a former SAF officer who maintains ties with
recently purged officers from the Northern military, described the
potential JEM threat as a case of chickens coming home to roost. He
thought Al-Turabi will be arrested within the coming days (which
turned out to be correct - but after the JEM attack) as a
precautionary measure. Mathok emphasized that SAF is becoming
increasingly factionalized, not along tribal lines but along
political factional divisions. "There is a feeling by some that
Al-Bashir is not doing enough to preserve the regime's status and
that others could better represent their interests."

7. (SBU) Mathok said that as a precaution, the SPLA had placed its
forces on stand-by alert along the South Darfur and South Kordofan
borders. GOSS President Kiir directed the action, noting to Mathok
that while the SAF must fight their own problems alone "we need to
be prepared in case JEM is chased southward." Mathok emphasized
that currently the SPLA intended to remain neutral but anyone who
vanquished the NCP must also recognize "SPLA superiority." He added

KHARTOUM 00000718 002 OF 002


that the JEM force was too small to account for the unease evinced
publicly by Khartoum.

8. (SBU) Comment: The SPLM's glee at the NCP's fears was a welcome
respite to the usual concern about a monotholic North seeking to
crush the plucky but outnumbered South. Alor and company were
absolutely right that Ibrahim's Zaghawa raiders alone could not
really threaten the regime, and ultimately the JEM incursion was
defeated quickly. However, this attack led by the cagey Islamist
(and former NIF hardliner) Khalil Ibrahim, combined with former NIF
founder Hassan al Turabi, and possibly joined by disaffected members
of the regime - if they really exist - is a clear danger to the NCP
and the arrest of Turabi May 12 proves this point (septel). Whether
a paranoid Khartoum is actually in danger over the longer term
remains to be seen - Embassy Khartoum will offer its analysis of the
regime's options and likely response over the coming days.
Meanwhile the SPLM will watch and wait, for once feeling relatively
safe in its southern redoubt.

FERNANDEZ

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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