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Cablegate: Chief Mediator Desperately Needed As Un/Au Mediation Team

VZCZCXRO1163
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0931/01 1751438
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 231438Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1132
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 000931

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, AF/SPG, 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 SU
SUBJECT: CHIEF MEDIATOR DESPERATELY NEEDED AS UN/AU MEDIATION TEAM
BECOMES NONEXISTENT

1. This is an action cable, see para 13.

2. (U) SUMMARY: On June 22, the political director of the UN/AU's
Joint Mediation Support Team (JMST), Muin Shrim, told poloffs that
they are "back to square one" in the search for a joint mediator,
and that by August only a couple of its current staff (of
approximately 10 individuals) will still be with the JMST. Shrim
also gave a detailed analysis of the power dynamic of Darfur's major
rebel groups following the JMST's failure to secure their
participation in their May security consultations. END SUMMARY.

NO CHIEF MEDIATOR
- - - - - - - - -
3. (SBU) Shrim stated that the last candidate for the position,
Mr. Ablasse Ouedraogo of the African Development Bank, was vetoed by
the African Union. According to JMST political officer, Amy Scott,
although Ouedraogo participated in the negotiations for the Darfur
Peace Agreement, he was not an effective force in Abuja. "I don't
think anyone will be shedding any tears that he was not selected for
the position," stated Scott. Shrim added that given the length of
the search and the state of the peace process, "we need someone who
is not just mediocre, but is excellent." Shrim stated that he
personally believes that although the term of UN's special envoy Jan
Eliasson is coming to an end on June 30, that Eliasson will want to
extend for another year. "If there is a chief mediator, you might
be able to push Eliasson out, but until someone fills that vacuum
UNAMID may be compelled to re-hire him," stated Shrim. Shrim stated
that one reason the process has slowed to a standstill is because
multiple offices in the UN and AU have a hand in the selection
process including the Department of Peace Keeping Operations, the
Department of Political Affairs, and the Office of the Secretary
General and "names are constantly being added and deleted."

4. (SBU) Polcouns inquired why this hiring process has taken so
long - whether it was due to bureaucracy or because no one actually
wants the job. Shrim and Scott stated that some ideal candidates
have viewed the position as a "poisoned chalice" as there is "no
opening for progress right now in Darfur." Shrim also stated that
the criteria used for hiring appear to be faulty, as most of the
candidates proposed for the position appear to be at the end of
their careers. "They look for a totally accomplished person who,
after he or she is selected, realizes that they do not want to end
their careers on a bad note," stated Shrim. Shrim suggested that
the selection committees should focus their efforts on mid-career
individuals, "who have accomplished something, but still have
something to gain."

JMST GUTTED
- - - - - -
5. (SBU) Shrim stated that as of July 1, he will take over as
UNMIS's head of Political Affairs. He said that the JMST has lost
several officers already and at least four other members of the JMST
will rotate out of their positions by the end of August, leaving
only one or two existing staff members in place at the JMST. Muin
said that they have been reluctant to focus on new hiring, as they
have assumed that the new chief mediator would bring some of his own
staff with him, and would want to build his own team.

FAILURE TO BRING JEM AND SLA/AW TO NEGOTIATIONS
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
6. (SBU) Shrim stated that although the mercurial rebel leader
previously agreed to attend security consultations, Abdul Wahid Nur
changed his mind and refused to participate just a few days before
the start of the JMST-led security consultations. According to
Shrim, Nur stated that "a minimum level of security in Darfur" is a
precondition for his participation in negotiations. This minimum
level of security, according to Nur, now includes: 1) full
deployment of UNAMID, 2) disarming the janjaweed and Arab militia 3)
removal of settlers from lands belonging to IDPs and refugees 4)
the safe return of IDPs. (Comment: That this level of progress
would mean that the Darfur is at peace - obviating the need for an
agreement - shows how entirely unrealistic Abbul Wahid's demands
are. End comment.)


SLA/AW FIELD OFFICERS FORM COMMMITTEE
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
7. (SBU) Shrim stated that following Nur's reversal, SLA/AW field
commanders felt angry, as they also agreed to participate and were
not consulted prior to Abdul Wahid's change of mind. Shrim stated
that these field commanders have since organized themselves, forming
a joint leadership committee. Shrim stated this council may "soften
Abdul Wahid and make him more rational- no one can challenge him
individually, but collectively it might be possible to get some
other voices at the table." Shrim stated that this new SLA/AW
leadership council was one of the few promising things that came out
of the failed Geneva meeting. According to Shrim, the GoS is not

KHARTOUM 00000931 002 OF 003


concerned about Abdul Wahid's movement. "The Sudanese Government
has isolated SLA/AW. They may have the support of the IDPs and Fur,
but they are not a threat to the GoS from Jebel Marra," stated
Shrim.

8. (SBU) Shrim relayed that he told Abdul Wahid that his refusal to
participate is unrealistic, as he cannot wait two years for UNAMID
to completely deploy to meet his "minimum security requirements."
Shrim stated that he told SLA/AW that the Zaghawa are taking over
Darfur and that the tendency will be to negotiate with whichever
group is ready. "We told SLA/AW, 'we did a u-turn for you and
changed our entire course to focus on security as that is a top
priority for you, and then you failed to show up. The Zaghawa are
ready to negotiate and you will be left out," said Shrim.

"SLA/UNITY IS WELL PLACED"
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
9. (SBU) Shrim suggested that many prominent Zaghawa groups are
ready to negotiate, including SLA/Unity and the United Resistance
Front. Shrim stated that SLM/Unity is "well positioned" and has a
good relationship with JEM, many Arab movements, and external actors
such as Libya and Eritrea.) Shrim stated that SLM Unity's Abdalla
Yaya, Suliman Jamous, and Sharif Harir are all "really ready" to
talk more. Shrim stated that he would be traveling to London on
June 26 to meet with JEM leaders residing there to "discuss in
detail what they would like to see in a peace deal."

"WHERE IS THIS GOING?"
- - - - - - - - - - - -
10. (SBU) In response to this bleak outlook, Polcouns questioned
where the peace process is going and whether it would be better for
the UN/AU to "bless a deal brokered by another party." Shrim stated
that "side deals will not work." He said that UNAMID deployment,
increased security, and an empowered group of field commanders may
give SLA/AW more credibility. He said that the GoS is only worried
about JEM and is sincerely interested in a cessation of hostilities
with the Zaghawas. Shrim stated that one approach would be to focus
on bringing the Zaghawas to the table, focusing first on JEM and
SLA/Unity, and later the URF. He said that if these Zaghawa groups
were convinced to come to the table, then SLA/AW would be forced to
participate as well.

INFLUENCE OF LIBYA AND CHAD
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
11. (SBU) Shrim stated that while Eritrea has less influence in
Darfur, Chad and Libya continue to influence the region. He said
that Chad and Libya support "Unity, JEM, URF - pretty much everyone"
with money, cars, and weapons and allow access to their territory
for supply, training, and planning. Shrim stated that it was
"anyone's guess" what Libya's goal is in Darfur, except that it
wants a hand in events along its border, and also wants a weak
neighbor along its border. Shrim opined that Qaddafi is not
personally involved in supporting the rebels, but that the head of
military intelligence, Abdallah Senussi, is the major player.

ROAD AHEAD
- - - - - -
12. (SBU) Shrim stated that the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue
(cHD) has secured the participation of all major rebel groups for a
July 11 meeting in Geneva. The meeting will focus on humanitarian
issues and, although JMST will not lead the session, JMST will
attend. Shrim stated that there was internal debate within the JMST
as to whether to give (cHD) permission to hold the session "as it
looks bad when they are able to pull the rebels together and we are
not." Shrim also expressed concern that it is jumping ahead to
discuss humanitarian activities without a cessation of hostilities.
Shrim stated that he has also come to doubt the usefulness of large
meetings such as this. Shrim stated that the JMST has used too much
time trying to secure rebel participation in meetings outside of
Sudan, and that it now realizes that it should have focused on
shuttle diplomacy dealing with substantive issues. Shrim emphasized
that this shuttle diplomacy is almost impossible with the current
configuration of the JMST (with the joint special envoys) "as you
need someone who can get up and go very quickly with a smaller staff
and make decisions quickly." Shrim emphasized that this single
mediator will also be able to build relationships with the parties
more effectively and see through many of the movements' lies and
disinformation.

COMMENT AND RECOMMENDATION
--------------------------
13. (SBU) The JMST has become practically nonexistent and long
before that it became inert. The UN/AU needs a single chief
mediator now and the U.S. should assert pressure at all levels and
departments of the USUN and AU to appoint a mediator with a support
team by August 1. Shrim is right - the JMST needs an energetic,
innovative, and accomplished (though not necessarily an elder)

KHARTOUM 00000931 003 OF 003


diplomat and the UN and AU should widen their search immediately.
Given the delay and inaction at this point by JMST, we believe a
younger, aggressive, Arabic-speaking diplomat (preferably NOT from
the Arab world) who could shake up both JMST and the UN/AU from
their stupor would be appropriate. That will be a tall order and
then whoever is identified will have to run the gauntlet of
interested parties. Just as the Friends of UNAMID put a full court
press on UNAMID deployment, so too should the U.S. lead the effort
in finding an appropriate candidate for the crucial position of the
chief mediator. The Embassy welcomes recommendations to pass to
JMST for appropriate candidates for the position of the US/AU chief
negotiator but the main obstacles seem to be in New York and Addis.
USUN and the U.S. Mission to the AU should also receive these
suggestions, and subsequently underscore the dire and immediate need
for filling this crucial position to their appropriate counterparts.


FERNANDEZ

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