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Cablegate: Slm/Mm Frustrated and Weakened to the Breaking Point

VZCZCXRO2161
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0902/01 1701030
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181030Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1080
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 000902

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, AF/SPG, AF/C, S/CRS, SE WILLIAMSON, NSC FOR
BPITTMAN AND CHUDSON
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM PINS SU
SUBJECT: SLM/MM FRUSTRATED AND WEAKENED TO THE BREAKING POINT


1. (U) SUMMARY: On June 17, Mohammed Suliman, a senior leader of
SLM/Minni Minnawi (SLM/MM) and Secretary General of the TDRA, railed
against the NCP, stating that the ruling party should openly admit
its neglect of the DPA, rather than deceptively undermine the peace
agreement. Suliman's fiery speech at a Darfur Peace Conference
elicited a strong NCP response, with one leader barging into the VIP
room following the speech shouting, "That is just his perspective,
wait till you hear ours!" Earlier in the week, three other leaders
of SLM/MM separately threatened that without immediate
implementation of the DPA they "may have to resort to other
desperate means." These leaders also reported that: Minnawi
narrowly averted a deadly attack on his convoy during a field visit
east of Kutum on June 14; that SLM/MM has lost the loyalty of many
important field commanders; and that some of SLM/MM's political
leadership may defect to more "active and effective rebel movements
such as JEM." END SUMMARY

SLM/MM RAILS OUT AT NCP AT DPA CONFERENCE
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
2. (U) On June 17, the Transitional Darfur Regional Authority
(TDRA) and Sudan Center for Research and Strategic Studies, a
prominent Khartoum think-tank hosted a conference entitled "Darfur
Peace: Between the Present and the Future." Muhammad Suliman,
Secretary General of the TDRA, began his opening remarks stating
that the conference comes at a time of deteriorating security,
increased frequency of human rights abuses, and continued violations
of ceasefire agreements. Suliman stated that the implementation of
the DPA has come to a "complete standstill since June 2007," and
that differences between DPA parties are widening. He also stated
"The NCP continues in its retreat from DPA implementation and even
refuses to sit with the SLM in joint meetings to negotiate points of
difference." For example, stated Suliman, the DPA continues to
stagnate in the first of six stages in the security protocols.
Suliman added that this failure to implement the DPA has started to
impact the well-being of the SLM army, as its soldiers have defected
to other movements, and as it does not have enough "daily bread" to
sustain itself. In his strongest words, Suliman stated that "if the
government wants to retreat from its commitments it should do it
openly and blatantly. There is no need for its sly attempts or its
threats to join together other parties against us - such as the
Declaration of Commitment (DOC) parties who defected from us."

3. (SBU) Following the speech in a short break, SLM/MM leaders
praised the strong remarks, while NCP representatives criticized
Suliman's words. Darfur Security Arrangements Implementation
Commissioner Lieutenant General Mohammed Ahmed Al-Dabi burst into
the room yelling, "This speech was nonsense. All of you from the
embassies and the U.N. better stay for my speech. That is just his
perspective, wait till you hear ours!" Other NCP representatives
stated that it was inappropriate for Suliman to open the conference
with a strong statement where the NCP was not allowed the
opportunity to directly respond. At the start of the next session,
Khalid Hussein, the Director of the Sudan Center for Research and
Strategic Studies, stated that Suliman's words are not reflective of
his center and that other parties will have a chance to respond,
while panel leader and Darfur activist Yousif Bakhit reminded the
presenters to be respectful in their presentations.

4. (U) (Note: Suliman's remarks follow other strong statements from
SLM/M. On June 16 a spokesmen for SLM/M spokesman El-Tayeb Khamis
told "Al-Ayyam" that his movement will soon specify a "final date to
implement the DPA with the National Congress Party. Khamis stated
that "if we receive no response from the NCP, we will take other
options." End Note.)

MINNAWI AVERTS ATTACK ON HIS CONVOY
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
5. (SBU) On June 15, SLM/MM parliamentarian Ali Traio told poloff
that Minni Minnawi learned of an impending attack on his convoy on
June 14 and re-routed his travel at the last minute. According to
Traio, Minnawi informed the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) western
sector commander of his planned route between Kutum and El-Fasher
and requested safe passage between the two cities. Traio stated that
the sector commander granted permission and ensured Minnawi of the
safety of the road. Traio stated that despite this pledge, Minnawi
learned of a government-supported militia attack on his convoy and
he re-routed his travel plan at the last minute. Traio reported
that Minnawi's intelligence was accurate, as other SLM/MM field
commanders confirmed a heavily armed Arab militia moving along
Minnawi's original route. "There are a lot of dirty tricks going on
in this country. Everything is possible and nothing is certain,"
commented Traio. Another SLM/MM press spokesman, Sayf Al-Haroun,
separately told poloff a similar version of the story above, but
cautioned that the militia group planning to attack Minnawi may have
not been controlled by the GoS.

"SECURITY ACT REGULARIZES THE JANJAWEED"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

KHARTOUM 00000902 002 OF 003


6. (SBU) Traio stated that despite his objections the National
Security Act would likely pass. Traio stated that as drafted, the
National Security act included a clause about "additional reserve
forces," something Traio interpreted as "the regularization of the
janjaweed because the president has the power to institute a
non-regular police force whenever he wants." (Note: On June 16 the
National Security Act did pass in the National Assembly. Section
14.1 in the draft bill reads, "Constitution of the Additional
Reserve Forces: The President of the Republic may, by an order as
he makes, pursuant to a recommendation from the minister, may
constitute any additional reserve forces to perform general, special
or temporary duties." End Note.) Traio stated that the SPLM has
not been an ally on this issue, saying "it seems like they have some
type of deal set up with the NCP."

SLM-MM INTERNALLY DIVIDED
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
7. (SBU) On June 17, SLM-MM spokesman Sayf Al-Haroun emphasized
that his movement is fracturing along ethnic and political lines.
He stated that Mustafa Mohamed Ahmed Tirab, the Secretary-General of
SLM/MM and State Minister at the Ministry of Federal Government,
leads one faction of SLM rivaling that led by Minnawi. Haroun also
stated that as a non-Zaghawa he feels excluded from the movement.
Once a head of SLM/MM's Liberation Council, the sole spokesman of
SLM/MM, and SLM/MM's liaison to the U.S., Al-Haroun said that he now
has been pushed to the "outer circle" of Minnawi's movement along
with other non-Zaghawa. He stated that he was frustrated that
senior SLM/MM leaders did not invite him to a meeting with Special
Envoy Williamson and that he no longer has any influence in the
movement. "Which SLM/MM will you work with?" asked Al-Haroun.

"MINNI IS LOSING CONTROL POLITICALLY AND MILITARILY"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
8. (SBU) Al-Haroun also stated that Minnawi has been in Darfur
because he is slowly losing the loyalty of his commanders and the
support of the people in SLM/MM controlled areas. (Note: As of
June 17, Minnawi has been in the field in Darfur for over three
weeks. End Note.) According to Al-Haroun, Minnawi visited some
areas paying compensation to families who were abused by SLM/MM
forces. Al-Haroun also stated that Minnawi has lost the loyalty and
control of several influential field commanders in SLM/MM
controlled-areas. Haroun said that many of these commanders "are
not interested in aligning with another rebel group," but just
controlling what they have. Haroun reported that some of these
independent commanders even turned Minnawi away when he tried to
visit him. Haroun said that where SLM field commanders remain loyal
to Minnawi, there is so much banditry and crime that the movement is
losing the support of the local population. "For the last two years
SLM/MM has been dying very slowly, so what is left for us,"
questioned Haroun.

"I, TOO, AM ALMOST READY TO DEFECT TO JEM."
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
9. (SBU) Also on June 17, a SLM/MM contact told poloff that he is
ready to defect to JEM or another rebel movement. According to this
contact, JEM may now be militarily stronger than SLM/MM for the
first time since the start of the Darfur conflict. "Some soldiers
that made SLM/MM strong have defected to JEM and they are building
up that organization," stated this contact. Even though JEM has an
Islamic ideology and Khalil Ibrahim thinks more of Khartoum than
Darfur, "he is a hero to us for making it to Omdurman," stated this
contact. This contact added that he is in close communication with
JEM leaders and that he is strongly considering returning to the
field and joining JEM. He stated, "The only option is hard because
we signed a ceasefire agreement - but it seems like there is no
option except pulling back to Darfur and joining other rebel
movements." (Note: This individual's name and contact information
is available from Post through siprnet communications. End Note).

COMMENT
- - - -
10. (SBU) SLM/MM's frustration is growing, and it will not be
surprising if Minnawi withdraws from the Government of National
Unity in protest before the end of 2008. More troubling than the
political ramifications of such a move are other possibilities such
as: 1) Minnawi continuing to lose his command and control structure
in SLM/MM controlled areas - leading to further fragmentation, the
birth of a new rebel movements, and an even more divided Darfur
landscape; 2) More individual political and military SLM/MM leaders
defecting to JEM or other rebel movements, feeding the rebellion
with skilled warriors and political strategists 3) Minnawi returning
to what he knows best, re-organizing his fighters and returning to
his pre-DPA activities. All of these are real possibilities in 2008
as SLM/MM approaches the breaking point.

11. (SBU) In the absence of any other agreement and no progress by
the UN/AU peace process, serious consideration should still be given
by the international community to pushing for the implementation of

KHARTOUM 00000902 003 OF 003


the DPA, including disarmament of the janjaweed. Unfortunately, the
international community has intellectually and politically "moved
on" from the DPA. It remains a perfectly good agreement which had a
massive investment of time and energy at the time from the USG, and
if implemented even part-way could have provided some incentive to
other rebel groups to join in further peace talks. The NCP remains
interested only in the portions of the DPA relating to the
disarmament of SLA forces, but should be pressed more aggressively
by the international community for further concessions on broader
security arrangements, as well as guarantees for IDPs. Such a move
could breathe new life into what is now an almost moribund peace
process in Darfur. The problem is that the DPA in and of itself will
not bring peace to Darfur, but its implementation could prevent
further fragmentation and anarchy from spreading in the troubled
region. That is probably just not good enough for a distracted
international community deeply concerned about Darfur but daunted by
the complexity of the issues involved.

FERNANDEZ

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