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Cablegate: Spla Cos On Intra-Splm Tensions and Relations With

VZCZCXRO1572
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0721/01 1330924
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 120924Z MAY 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 0788
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000721

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: SPLA COS ON INTRA-SPLM TENSIONS AND RELATIONS WITH
MISSERIYA

1. (SBU) CDA Fernandez and Acting CG met with SPLA Chief of Staff
LTG Oyai Deng Ajak on May 9. They discussed recent Misseriya/SPLA
tensions within Sudan's oil-field region along the 1956 border, SPLA
difficulties integrating a sometimes fickle Misseriya force, and
Unity's State Governor Taban Deng Gai's ouster by a scheming GOSS VP
Machar from his state SPLM chairmanship and its attendant political
impact on the SPLM National Convention, and potentially the GOSS.

----------------------------------
CONTINUED ISSUES WITH REDEPLOYMENT
----------------------------------

2. (SBU) Competing claims over land north and south of the 1956
border and earlier SAF attempts to redeploy from the South,
dismissed by Ajak as mere propaganda, have again heightened SPLA/SAF
tensions within the oil field region. The SPLA Chief of Staff
maintained that the SAF is consolidating its forces in the area,
noting an expansive SAF presence stretching from Nuba Mountains to
Heglig and Muglad. "They have at least three divisions of
35,000-plus troops - Nuba alone has 25,000," he claimed. (COMMENT:
This assertion is hardly new, and remains increasingly difficult for
UNMIS to verify or refute. END COMMENT). Ajak maintained that the
SAF is intentionally strengthening its positions around the Korodad
and Bentiu oil fields in order that Khartoum can continue to draw on
their wealth even amidst a war with the South. "But they are making
very wrong calculations," Ajak noted. The Charge countered that the
SAF wants to reap the spoils of war without directly engaging in
offensive combat. Ajak agreed, but noted "at the end of the day we
will run out of patience, particularly if they keep moving to expand
into territory we consider part of the South."

3. (SBU) Ajak reviewed the SPLA rationale for its recent withdrawal
from Kharsana, citing lack of potable water and the town's
compromised location far northeast of Abyei. The Chief of Staff
allowed that there were six separate SAF units at varying positions
behind the SPLA contingent, and that violence could have led to his
soldiers' entrapment in a poor tactical position. Following the SPLA
departure, SAF moved in to occupy the location despite advance
discussions with the southern military and the Chief of Staff's
understanding that the parties had reached a mutual restraint pact.


-------------------------------------------
THE MISSERIYA: FRIEND OR FOE OR PRAGMATIST?
-------------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Ongoing SPLA-Misseriya tensions were cast within the
context of an "impoverished and backward local population similar to
much of the South" effortlessly motivated by money and the lure of
captured spoils. Ajak described a Baggara (Note: Baggara are cattle
herding Arab tribes like the Misseriya and Southern Rizeigat)
mentality that was perplexing to the point of absurdity. "The
Baggara generally can be managed but it will take time, he
acknowledged." The Misseriya Emir of the group which attacked the
SPLA one month prior outside Aweil is currently in Juba seeking to
make up with the SPLM. He apologized for the attack, vowed to
return the one SPLA Toyota Landcruiser captured during the skirmish,
and pledged to return captured weapons as well. "How is it," the
Chief of Staff laughed, "that these people can do the wrong thing
one month and the right thing the next?"

5. (SBU) The SPLA has no easier a time managing its relations with
Misseriya who wish to be integrated into its ranks. According to
Ajak, the 2500-man "Debaab Force" (local militia who joined the SPLA
in 2007) Misseriya outside of Bentiu now brought their own internal
problems. The ill-trained, undisciplined militia group has been
receiving pay and uniforms since joining the SPLA and assembling in
Unity State. Malfeasance by some Misseriya pay-masters and officers
has stoked intra-militia tensions. "Deserters that flee to their
home areas are those same who return to the South to attack us,"
Ajak said. "The very same troops who begged to join our ranks not
long ago." He noted that about 150 of these SPLA/Misseriya renegades
had actually engaged in attacks against SPLA regular units. The
Charge suggested that the SPLM aggressively reiterate their support
for the Misseriya's unfettered access to grazing land in the South.
Ajak responded that the point had been explained "very clearly" to
the Misseriya in the past during Garang's stewardship of the
military and after SPLM efforts during the Naivasha peace talks.
"Because they are not united behind one or two voices, the message
is not reaching all Baggara, and so they believe Khartoum went it
attempts to manipulate them through claims that their land is being
stolen by SPLA."

--------------------------
RIEK'S COUP IN UNITY STATE

KHARTOUM 00000721 002 OF 002


--------------------------

6. (SBU) The Charge turned to recent political fallout linked to
Unity State Governor Taban Deng Gai's ouster from his state chairman
seat, and drew a blunt response from the Chief of Staff. "It's
Riek, and although I don't know what's precisely in his mind, the
move was mostly about gaining power for his wife" (Angelina Teny
Machar, GNU State Minister for Energy and Mines) and greater money
and power for the both of them. Ajak described a classic Machar
power play whereby the GOSS Vice President duped avaricious and
pliable ex-Southern Sudan Defense Force Commander Paulino Matiep and
titular SPLA Deputy Chief of Staff into believing that Matiep
protege and GOSS Health Minister Joseph Monytiel Wiejang would
generate larger kick-backs to the ailing commander. Ajak maintained
that Taban Deng Gai fed Matiep a steady stream of cash to keep his
Nuer followers in check during repeated clan-based political
infighting in Unity State. The Chief of Staff remarked "Paulino
takes money with no accountability, and he believes Riek when he is
told that he the SPLM State Chairman will automatically become the
governor. So he expects even more money from Monytiel."

7. (SBU) Vice President Machar's takeover of the state congress,
Ajak complained, "was done in a very crude and primitive way." The
Chief of Staff noted that Machar's attempts to unseat Gai
encompassed last two years, and has involved anything ranging from
local-level political insubordination to death threats. GOSS
President Kiir has remained a steadfast ally of Gai throughout,
noting to both Machar and his wife Angelina Teny in the past that
despite complaints in the media and elsewhere, he believed Gai was
doing well and that if such threats continued he would order the
SPLA to protect the governor.

8. (SBU) For the Unity State Congress, the Vice President brought
two platoons of seventy-five soldiers with him, and set to work
intimidating convention-goers, delegates, and the congress
supervisor alike. (NOTE: Each state congress has supervisors, senior
SPLM members from outside that state that oversee the proceedings,
file reports to Kiir in his capacity as party chairman and can step
in to address irregularities. END NOTE.) Ajak believed that the May
10 Interim National Council meeting, the last before the historic
National Convention, would likely review Taban Deng Gai's
allegations that Machar had manipulated the congress's outcome.
Ajak contends that Machar exercised his status as Vice Chairman of
the SPLM to block Gai's right as governor to nominate five percent
of the state's delegates - a standing party rule and something which
would have pushed the Governor into the victory column during the
vote count. (COMMENT: Instead, Machar's move places the Government
of Southern Sudan closer to crisis. If Monytiel's victory is
preserved, he will have to resign his cabinet seat, leaving the GOSS
with two vacant ministerial slots to fill. END COMMENT.)

9. (SBU) COMMENT: A relaxed and expansive General Oyai Deng Ajak
seemed unaffected by the recent loss of his ostensible boss, SPLA
Affairs Minister Dim Deng who died in a plane crash on May 2. His
distressing depiction of infighting and intrigue in the ranks of the
SPLA and SPLM rings true and shows how power in Sudan, whether North
or South, always balances on the blade of a knife as allies squabble
and undermine each other despite the threat from the NCP. His
detailed description of Riek Machar's machinations bodes ill for
Southern peace and unity as sooner or later the ambitious Riek will
overreach and have to be slapped down by Salva Kiir.

FERNANDEZ

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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