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Cablegate: Rizeigat Arab Leader On Darfur Civil Society, Obstreperous

VZCZCXRO1558
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1009/01 1900741
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 080741Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1259
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001009

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: RIZEIGAT ARAB LEADER ON DARFUR CIVIL SOCIETY, OBSTREPEROUS
SOUTH DARFUR GOVERNOR

REF: KHARTOUM 992

1. (SBU) Summary: Poloff met July 6 with Waleed Maddibo Mousa,
prominent Darfur Rizeigat Arab and civil society leader and
organizer of the annual equestrian festival in Ed-Daien, South
Darfur. Maddibo used the festival to create a "clandestine dialogue"
among Darfuris, and believes the late-night discussions among
Rizeigat Arabs gave them a chance to voice grievances free of GOS
interference. He heaped scorn on the Wali (Governor) of South
Darfur, a well-known obstructionist of international efforts in the
region, and plans further festivals in more friendly areas of
Darfur. End summary.

2. (SBU) Maddibo, a sophisticated Sudanese-American with a doctorate
in philosophy from the University of Florida, and son of the Nazir
of the South Darfur Abbala Rizeigat community, described the annual
festival as "another success in challenging the institutional
mentality of an apathetic population." The event, held in May in
El-Daien, attracted tens of thousands of local Arabs, and attracted
positive press in major media outlets such as Al-Jazeera, BBC and
the Washington Post. However Maddibo was more focused on the
after-effects of calming down the tense situation in Ed-Daien,
noting that the festival had been blocked from even occurring for
several months by the difficult and obstructive Wali of South
Darfur. Maddibo said that El-Daien boasts a large Dinka population,
and Maddibo estimates that 90 percent of urban dwellers there are
non-Arab, but its ethnic heterogeneity may prove a source of
instability. "If you don't take protective measures, you are
potentially creating a new Abyei. The Rizeigat tribal institution
doesn't understand way to take advantage of any peace initiative.
This may be the way out." (Note: El-Daien is the site of the
infamous slaughter of Dinka IDPs by these same Rizeigat Arabs in the
early 1990s, who were then allied more closely with the Khartoum
regime and used in numerous attacks against the South. End note.)

2. (SBU) "This gathering was not apolitical," Maddibo said,
describing the event as an "umbrella" under which Rizeigat Arabs
attended horse festivals during the day, and provided cover for
independent discussions on political topics at night. "We must do
reconciliation among the tribes clandestinely. The government would
interrupt it, and Darfur civil society forums are deprived of
resources." The five day festival ended without any instances of
political violence or interruption by Sudanese security forces. "Not
a single mobile phone was stolen!" Maddibo claimed, and also cited
an internal GOS security report that he claimed gave the event
credit for improving local security.

3. (SBU) Maddibo did not hide his contempt for Ali Mahmoud, Wali of
South Darfur. Mahmoud, who in a recent newspaper interview expressed
his desire to expel all aid workers from Sudan, threw up numerous
administrative roadblocks to halt the festival, delaying the
festival by three months. "The emperor of South Darfur," as Maddibo
described him, is "the match South Darfur needs to set it in flames.
He is arrogant. He despises the tribal chiefs, he disrespects his
own commissioners, he intimidates civil society, and he has no voice
with the rebels." Maddibo said he had received information that
Mahmoud had ordered retaliatory SAF air attacks in June on the Beni
Halba Arabs (ref. A, paragraph 9), killing 109 members of the Beni
Halba militia. Maddibo said that after months of bureaucratic
delays, he finally managed to outmaneuver the wily Wali thanks to
his personal contacts in the GOS, who in turn have begun to turn
against their appointee. "He has become a liability for the NCP,"
Maddibo said, "and they don't trust him." The Beni Halba have
reportedly sworn to kill the Wali (who comes from the Darfuri Taisha
Arab tribe) as part of a blood feud.

4. (SBU) At heart an academic, Maddibo's said his goal is to empower
"agents capable of acting civically," but remains concerned that
international efforts to solve the Darfur crisis strand themselves
in hotels in Khartoum without actually reaching out to target
beneficiaries. "People in Darfur don't know anything about the DDDC,
the JMST and UNAMID," voicing a common complaint heard from Darfuri
civil society activists. Hence his ambitious plans: Maddibo intends
to move forward with proposals for another festival in El Geneina,
West Darfur ("This time the Wali, he wants us there"), and a series
of engagements to expose his "clandestine dialogue" to as many
Darfuris as possible. "Both rebels and the GOS are taking the silent
majority for granted. If the silent majority can coerce them, and if
they feel the silent majority can pull the rug out from under their
feet, then they have to respond."

5. (SBU) Comment: Maddibo is well connected within his tribe and
broader Sudanese society, and his goals most likely connect to
far-reaching political ambitions. The festival received significant
support from international donors, and it appears to have paid off
in South Darfur. Ed-Daien sits on the fault line that connects

KHARTOUM 00001009 002 OF 002


Darfur with South Kordofan and the always volatile Abyei, and
peaceful civil society initiatives such as this serve to encourage
discussion among tribal groups that have been at times ignored and
at times manipulated by Khartoum.

FERNANDEZ

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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