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Cablegate: Sudanese Mfa Briefs Khartoum Diplomatic Corps

VZCZCXRO3043
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0727/01 1341416
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 131416Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0801
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0213
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 000727

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS, AF/C
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: SUDANESE MFA BRIEFS KHARTOUM DIPLOMATIC CORPS

REF: A) KHARTOUM 716
B) KHARTOUM 717
C) KHARTOUM 719

1. (U) SUMMARY: On May 13 at 11:00 A.M. (local time) Mutriff Sadiq,
the Undersecretary at the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
accompanied by a Sudanese Army General, briefed Khartoum's
Ambassadors on the Justice and Equality Movement's attack on
Omdurman, across the Nile from the Sudanese capital. Throughout the
briefing, Sadiq aggressively emphasized Chad's support for the
operation. Sadiq also stated that the GoS will not use this as an
opportunity to unfairly detain Darfuris, attack rebel groups, or
change the GoS's stance on negotiations with rebel movements. END
SUMMARY.

RECAP OF JEM OPERATION
- - - - - - - - - - - -
2. (SBU) Sadiq opened the session calling JEM's operation a
"suicidal attack." He stated that the MFA warned the diplomatic
community about the impending JEM attack on May 9, and "this is
exactly what happened as we expected." He stated that the Sudanese
Armed Forces, in order to avoid bloody street fighting in heavily
populated sections of Khartoum's sprawling suburb, directed the
fighting to two of the least populated areas in Omdurman: 1)
Al-'Arda Street (between Street 40 and Mua'arid Street) and 2) The
Inqaz bridge. Sadiq implied that some JEM fighters may have made it
to the half-way point of this bridge across the Nile. According to
Sadiq, the JEM fighters incorrectly expected additional support from
SAF defectors and the general population in Omdurman. They failed
utterly to take any military objective in Omdurman such as the Wadi
Sayidna Base or Military Engineers Unit.

CHADIAN LINK
- - - - - - -
3. (SBU) Sadiq stated that the JEM fighters relied upon cell phones
for the communications, and that this enabled the GoS to intercept
and gain valuable intelligence. When the local populace failed to
rise, JEM called the Chadian Embassy. According to Sadiq, the
Chadian Embassy in Khartoum was "an important point of contact for
JEM." He stated that contacts within the Chadian Embassy encouraged
JEM fighters to cross over into Khartoum and capture the Mogran
water station and the Central Bank of Sudan. "After we intercepted
these communications we directed our forces to prevent this from
happening, and we gained decisive battles to stop this," stated
Sadiq. Sadiq stated that the GoS acquired Chadian passports,
identity cards, communications equipment, and weapons from the
fighters - all of which is evidence for Chad's support of this
operation. (Note: Approximately ten Chadian passports, identity
cards, birth certificates and other documents were on display
following the briefing. End Note). Sadiq noted that the Chadian
Ambassador departed Sudan prior to the attack, and claimed the
Chadian security attach in Khartoum was directly involved in the
operation.

THE CURRENT SITUATION
- - - - - - - - - - -
4. (SBU) Sadiq stated that all JEM fighters have been captured,
except for those who fled and a small number who attempted to
incorporate themselves into the civilian population in Omdurman.
With respect to the latter, he stated that "every hour we catch more
of the fighters who have left their weapons and taken off their
uniforms." He stated that GoS security caught two such individuals
in central Khartoum on May 12. He stated that this incident was
complicated by the involvement of many different GoS police,
security, and military groups, and that the number of forces on the
street has been reduced since then (one report we have heard is that
GOS units mistakenly fired on each other) and checkpoints eliminated
in Khartoum. He stated that fleeing JEM fighters "have scattered
all over," with some moving into White Nile and North Kordofan
states, running out of gas and being swept up in small numbers.

5. (SBU) Sadiq said that he could not discount that JEM would
attempt to fall on UNAMID or SAF units in Darfur, or even on other
Darfuri rebel movements. Some rebels had taken advantage of JEM's
absence to raid its bases in Darfur and, in any case, "JEM wants to
be the only rebel group in Darfur." He did admit that the movements
of the Sudanese Army had been "slow and the chain of command, long"
and that the more nimble rebels had taken advantage of this.

6. (SBU) Sadiq boasted that more GoS military and security forces
were ready for action, but that "we did not need all the forces to
crush JEM." He stated that the JEM attack has had an effect on
Omdurman's civilian population, with a number civilian causalities.
He stated that many buildings were damaged or destroyed (including
one mosque) and that four banks were taken by the JEM fighters.
Sadiq emphasized the attack's impact on the civilian population,
stating that "the number of causalities and wounded for the military

KHARTOUM 00000727 002 OF 003


were normal and what one would expect." Sadiq stated that by the
afternoon of May 14, movements should entirely return to normal in
Omdurman. He noted that May 13 will be a "crucial day" for
returning life to normal in Omdurman and Khartoum, but warned that
"we should not exclude the possibility of other attacks by JEM,"
especially as they attempt to prove that they are still alive and
well.

POLITICAL AND ETHNIC DETENTIONS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
7. (SBU) Sadiq said the GoS is sensitive to the situation of ethnic
Zaghawans and other ethnic groups in Darfur and that it had "issued
a clear statement" that it will avoid ethnically and
geographically-based detentions. He stated that the people of
Darfur have been very helpful in providing information to the GoS's
security apparatus. CDA Fernandez stated that he appreciated this
statement and that the international community will continue to
monitor detentions and any operations which target individuals based
on ethnicity. He added that there should be no ethnic targeting
either in Khartoum or in Darfur.

8. (SBU) Responding to a question regarding Popular Congress
leader Hassan Al-Turabi, Sadiq stated that it was very clear that
"individuals from the Popular Congress Party are sympathizers with
JEM." He said that "it was no coincidence that they were outside of
Khartoum in the city of Sinar for five days, just like the absence
of the Chadian Ambassador from Khartoum." He added that the GoS has
evidence of the PCP's involvement in the operation, and that it
released Turabi "just so that it will not grab all of the media's
attention."

GOS RESPONSE
- - - - - - -
9. (SBU) Sadiq stated that the individuals responsible for the
attack should be "called terrorists as they committed crimes against
humanity." He noted that one of the JEM trucks used in the attack
was a looted WFP truck used for humanitarian assistance, which JEM
had converted to military use. He stated that the GoS will present
warrants for the arrest of JEM leaders to countries which harbor JEM
leaders. He stated that the GoS has appreciated the statements of
condemnation made by the international community, including the US,
and hinted at other countries who "offered more help than just
condemnations". He then announced that the Ethiopian FM had just
arrived in Khartoum.

10. (SBU) Sadiq stated that the GoS is still committed to
negotiating with rebel factions (including JEM "if they change their
ways.") He said the GoS still plans on participating in JMST-led
security discussions scheduled for late May in Geneva, and the GoS
will not try to exploit this opportunity to "liquidate" rebel
movements. He emphasized that "if JEM indicates that they are ready
for peace, we are ready to consider it, but we know that Khalil
Ibrahim is not for negotiations. If they change, we will give them
a chance." He said that JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim is power-hungry,
an adventurer, isolated from his own people, an agent of the
Chadians, and a coward who exploited child soldiers. On the last
point, he stated that captured child combatants would be handed over
to the ICRC.

11. (SBU) Sadiq said that the GoS does not have any ambitions in
Chad, "although we could harm the Chadians and remove Deby, if we
wanted to." Specifically and harshly addressing the French
Ambassador, Sadiq said "you know about Chadian involvement in this
better than anyone, we asked for your help many times and you need
to alert our neighbor that we hold them accountable."

COMMENT
- - - -
12. Sadiq said many of the right things on May 13 to assuage the
concerns of Khartoum's diplomatic community. He emphasized that the
GoS directed the fighting to areas with low population density, that
it will avoid targeting Darfurians, and that it will continue to
talk with other Darfur rebel movements. However, some of what he
said must be taken with a large grain of salt since it obviously
downplays the serious concerns of the regime at the time of the
attack, and portrays GOS forces as having been entirely in control
of events throughout the fighting. Moreover, although Sadiq opened
the briefing saying that the attack was both expected and controlled
by the GoS security apparatus, he conveyed a number of details which
shows how close JEM was to achieving its very ambitious goals.
According to Sadiq, JEM avoided a SAF operation to keep them out of
the city, took over Omdurman's banks, may have made it onto one of
the bridges leading to Khartoum, and was close to moving into
Khartoum (were it not for the GoS's victory in several "decisive
battles.") Sadiq showed the most emotion while emphatically
addressing the French Ambassador, encouraging France to convey to
Chad that Sudan holds Chad accountable.

KHARTOUM 00000727 003 OF 003

FERNANDEZ

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