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Cablegate: Jem

VZCZCXRO8700
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0779/01 1411400
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 201400Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0880
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000779

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS, DS/IP/AF, DS/DSS/CC
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KPKO SOCI AU SU CD UNSC

SUBJECT: JEM
BREAKS SILENCE AND AGREES TO MEET ENVOY

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. After days of relative silence, Justice and
Equality Movement (JEM) leader Khalil Ibrahim contacted FieldOff to
accept the Special Envoy's proposal for a meeting in Ndjamena May
29. Khalil made clear that "Darfur is not the goal," but that
regime change in Khartoum remains not only the primary goal but a
real possibility. Khalil's field commanders alleged that Khalil is
in North Darfur but is willing to travel to N'djamena to meet with
the Special Envoy on May 29, as long as the Government of Chad
blesses such a meeting. END SUMMARY.

MILITARY SOLUTION STILL THE ANSWER
----------------------------------
2. (SBU) On May 19 JEM field commander Mohamed Beshir contacted
FieldOff to provide an update on JEM's activities in the wake of its
May 10 offensive on Omdurman outside Khartoum. Beshir, a former JEM
representative to the Ceasefire Commission before his arrest in El
Fasher in December 2007, noted that he had not been involved in the
Omdurman operation. At the time of the Omdurman attack he was
fighting in Jebel Moun against the JEM/Collective Leadership (CL)
faction, led by Abdalla Banda (he said Banda was supported by 15
vehicles). Beshir added that JEM was also fighting against
Government of Sudan (GoS) forces in Jebel Moun and that the GoS had
moved 30 vehicles into the region [NOTE: UNAMID also reported 70-80
GoS vehicles in Malha; humanitarian missions and travel to that
location have been suspended. END NOTE]. The level of violence in
Jebel Moun, Beshir noted, is such that no travel to this region is
safe at the moment. The United Nations-African Union Mission in
Darfur (UNAMID) Deputy Force Commander told fieldoff that he plans
to task the Mission to look into the JEM/Khalil - JEM/CL violence.

3. (SBU) Beshir told FieldOff that contrary to rumors, such as those
which brought El Fasher to a veritable standstill on May 16, JEM has
no plans to attack Darfur, which he acknowledged would result in
civilian casualties. It was easier, Beshir said, to target instead
the GoS, and he boasted that a "second wave" of attacks on Khartoum
was coming, something that JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim reiterated in a
subsequent phone conversation with FieldOff. Claiming to be
speaking from somewhere between Kutum and Kabkabiya in North Darfur,
Khalil asserted that "it should be very clear that our interest is
not in Darfur, it is in Khartoum" (Note: GOS officials claim that
Khalil is actually in Chad already). Consistent with similar press
statements to news agencies, Khalil said JEM saw only two ways of
"terminating the suffering of the Darfur people: peace or war."
"With more than six million people living as IDPs, refugees and
among the diaspora," Khalil explained, "we don't have many
alternatives."

GoS, UN-AU MEDIATION NOT SERIOUS
--------------------------------
4. (SBU) Khalil said as long as the GoS failed to take seriously the
"window for peace" in Darfur, JEM would continue its push for
Khartoum and for regime change, which he deemed within the realm of
possibility. He noted that "peace is still our first priority,"
although he acknowledged it was still too soon after the May 10
Omdurman attack for the GoS to talk peace with JEM. "The Government
is not stable now, and it does not know what to do," Khalil
asserted, adding that he considered it more important for JEM to sit
down with the USG than with the GoS at this point.

5. (SBU) Khalil had little faith in the UN's and AU's ability to
mediate in the Darfur conflict, accusing those mediators of "abusing
UN assets" by entertaining consultations with "bandits" like Sudan
Liberation Army commander Suleiman Marjan and Sudan Liberation Army
faction leader Abdulshafie. "They aren't main players," Khalil
declared, and he accused the UN-AU mediation of having created
factions out of groups that had neither credibility nor force
strength on the ground. "They don't want peace," Khalil insisted,
"They are only a danger to non-governmental organizations and are
more dangerous to Darfuris than the Government is." Individual
interests, according to Khalil, had no place in the Darfur peace
process, and the UN-AU mediation's propensity for inclusiveness was
undermining this reality and accordingly prospects for viable
peace.

HIGH HOPES FOR USG ROLE
-----------------------
6. (SBU) In Khalil's estimation, the only country that can play a
role as an effective mediator in the Darfur conflict is the United
States. "It is more important for us to sit with the U.S. than with
the Government of Sudan," Khalil declared. He was very receptive to
the idea of meeting with Special Envoy Williamson in N'djamena on
May 29 and plans to bring a delegation with him (likely Victor
Gibril Ibrahim and Abdullah Osman al-Tum). He insisted, however,
that given the current sensitivities between the GoS and the GoC,
the USG must obtain express permission from the GoC for JEM to come
to N'djamena for this meeting. Both Khalil and Beshir asked

KHARTOUM 00000779 002 OF 002


FieldOff for any "advice" that the USG could offer to JEM for the
coming days. FieldOff made clear that the USG would not condone
ceasefire violations, regardless of the purported motivations, and
that for every such infraction, the peace process which JEM claimed
to support took a step backward. Apparently unconvinced by this
piece of advice, Khalil laughed and agreed to disagree on this
point.

7. (SBU) Beshir flagged for FieldOff the continued detention in
Cairo by Egyptian intelligence officers of three JEM members,
including Ahmed Tougod, JEM's chief negotiator. Beshir appealed to
FieldOff for USG intervention with the Government of Egypt for these
members' release (NOTE: UNAMID reported in its May 20 Media Brief
that the GoE had shot and killed one of the JEM members in custody,
but this is unconfirmed and unlikely. Polchief spoke with the
Egyptian DCM May 19, who confirmed the continued detention of the
JEM members to prevent them from issuing "propaganda" from Egypt.
He said the GOE may deport JEM members if they do not agree to cease
issuing statements from Egypt, but that no decision has been made
"until the current situation calms down." END NOTE.)

COMMENT AND RECOMMENDATION
--------------------------
8. (SBU) JEM is still riding the wave of "success" after its
attention-grabbing stab at Khartoum. Given the proximity with which
it neared the capital the first time around, any threat to make a
second go should not be totally discounted although President
Al-Bashir's generals have stated that the operation cannot be
repeated. A meeting with Khalil Ibrahim, as long as it is
pre-cleared with the GoS and used as an opportunity to criticize
Ibrahim in the meeting and in the press afterward, could be useful
in driving home messages already conveyed by the Department in the
wake of the May 10 Omdurman attack. JEM needs reminding that no
ceasefire violation goes unpunished, and while it may be allegedly
fighting in the name of Sudan peace, it is nonetheless fighting and
killing innocent civilians - in addition to JEM's aggressive action
against other rebel factions like JEM-CL and the GOS.

9. (SBU) JEM also needs reminding that while it may show contempt
for the ceasefire, it needs to respect other mechanisms already in
place to address the concerns of peace and war it purports to
champion. JEM must be reminded that until stated otherwise, the UN
and the AU maintain the lead of Darfur peace mediation and that like
it or not, there are other parties to the Darfur conflict. JEM also
needs to make good on its private promises that UNAMID, including
its Egyptian contingents, will be regarded as part of the Darfur
solution and not part of the problem. These messages could also be
reinforced in a face-to-face meeting with Khalil.

10. (SBU) The Department may wish to instruct Embassy N'djamena to
inform Government of Chad of the proposed meeting between the
Special Envoy and Khalil Ibrahim May 29.

FERNANDEZ

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