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Cablegate: Jem and Sla/U Show Increased Cooperation in Geneva

VZCZCXRO8124
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1067/01 1980957
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 160957Z JUL 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1350
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001067

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

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: JEM AND SLA/U SHOW INCREASED COOPERATION IN GENEVA

1. (SBU) Summary: Europe-based representatives of SLA/Unity and JEM
met in Geneva last week at meetings hosted by the Center for
Humanitarian Dialogue ostensibly to discuss greater security for
humanitarian operations in Darfur, but the workshop served as a
springboard for mutual recognition and substantive political
dialogue between these two mostly Zaghawa rebel groups that appear
to be aligned closely on security issues (both receive support from
Ndjamena and most observers assume they receive some support from
Libya as well). The modest tangible progress from the sessions
included an agreement to increase security and a method, with
assistance from OCHA, to try to decrease hijackings and banditry.
CHD and the JMST view the meeting as a confidence-building measure
that will lead to additional talks between rebel groups as well as
shuttle diplomacy once newly-appointed Chief Mediator Djibril
Bassole arrives in Khartoum later this week. End summary.
2. (SBU) According to Theo Murphy of the Geneva-based Centre for
Humanitarian Dialogue (CHD), and Amy Scott, Poloff with the Joint
Mediation Support Team (JMST), discussions between representatives
from the Sudanese Liberation Army/Unity (SLA/U) and the Justice and
Equality Movement (JEM) were positive and even somewhat substantive
on security issues. Organized by CHD and the U.N.'s Office for
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), with the JMST as an
observer, the workshop was a modest effort at resuming formal
mediation between Darfur rebel groups through the avenue of
discussions on humanitarian coverage and security. The JMST also
plans to pursue a strategy of shuttle diplomacy between rebels and
the government once newly-appointed Chief Mediator Djibril Bassole
arrives in Khartoum later this week and begins his work in earnest.
Notably absent from the CHD meeting in Geneva were representatives
from SLM/Abdul Wahid, who had cancelled at the last minute. Scott
said the sessions marked a departure from previous JMST attempts at
mediation; most remarkable was that JEM even agreed to meet with
representatives from another rebel group, which demonstrates that
JEM has begun to coordinate with SLA/U.
3. (SBU) Murphy described discussions on security as producing
"modest progress," as foremost among OCHA's concerns were practical
steps to improve delivery of humanitarian aid in Darfur, with the
objective of reducing banditry, looting and carjacking that has
crippled humanitarian operations. SLA/U and JEM insisted that the
situation had deteriorated due to communication gaps following the
fracturing of the rebel movements. They also said OCHA should play
a more proactive role in contacting rebels when goods or vehicles
had been taken, and coordinating their movements in advance. Rebels
said that when aid agencies call numerous rebel contacts to track
down the stolen items, thieves move more quickly to move the goods
across the Chadian border. To remedy this, the participants agreed
to a series of steps meant to create a network of points of contact
within the movements to try and recover the goods, while OCHA agreed
to serve as a focal point for the aggrieved parties.
4. (SBU) Non-humanitarian issues gained less traction with the
rebels; both movements agreed to take steps to inform their
commanders in the field not to use child soldiers, while any talks
of a ceasefire remained hypothetical and only on the sidelines of
the main discussion. On last week's attacks on a UNAMID convoy, all
participants roundly condemned the attacks in private, but SLA/U was
coy when queried as to their participation. According to Scott, both
groups privately denied taking part in the attacks which left seven
dead, but SLA/U did not endeavor to deny making the attack in their
post-workshop public statement. Speaking order at the final press
conference became a point of tension, but the movements adopted a
joint statement committing to humanitarian issues on principle, and
promised to collaborate better with relief agencies.
5. (SBU) Scott noted that the statement in itself was "not at all
that significant," adding that the rebels were "re-committing to
things they violate everyday," but the statement may stand for a new
willingness to engage from a political standpoint and the meeting
sets the stage for future sessions. A second workshop is being
planned for representatives of the Government of Sudan, and plans
are in the works for a third workshop for all parties. Murphy
believes that this meeting may be the first step to gathering a
"critical mass" of Darfur rebels, which could eventually lead toward
talks on a political settlement. Murphy suggested that obtaining
this critical mass could begin without SLA/AW, but his participation
would eventually be required. Murphy believes Abdelwahid should be
pressured at the international level (e.g., the U.S. and France),
and by his commanders on the ground, whom Murphy believes would
welcome substantive discussions. While Murphy sees a Zaghawa
political alliance as improbable (SLA/U is not fully comfortable
with Khalil Ibrahim's islamist agenda), both CHD and the JMST remain
optimistic that their efforts may lead toward more productive talks
once the new Chief Mediator begins his work.
6. (SBU) According to the JMST and UNAMID, new Chief Mediator
Djibril Bassole intends to arrive in Sudan at the end of this week
for negotiations with GOS officials before traveling to El Fasher to
begin establishing contacts and setting up an office. Still formally
employed as Burkina Faso's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional

KHARTOUM 00001067 002 OF 002


Cooperation, Bassole has yet to appoint a special assistant, hire
any staff, or deal directly with JMST staff in Sudan. JMST reports
that JEM appears the most concerned regarding Bassole's appointment,
as they would have preferred a higher-profile figure whom they
believe would be less malleable to GOS manipulation.
7. (SBU) Comment: CHD's "critical mass" approach to peace talks
requires the participation of Abdul Wahid al-Nur, who may never
participate given his unrealistic demands and comfortable platform
in Paris from which to pontificate on Darfur. A more modest
"domino" approach to engaging the movements on security agreements
with the GOS and UNAMID may be more realistic. The arrival of the
Bassole, who we understand intends to pursue an intensive shuttle
diplomacy strategy of continuous engagement with the movements,
should give some momentum to what has been an entirely moribund
process under the leadership of the part time joint special envoys
Eliasson and Salim.
FERNANDEZ

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