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Cablegate: Darfur Rebel Movements Hint at Cooperation While Minnawi

VZCZCXRO2283
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1093/01 2030933
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 210933Z JUL 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1388
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001093

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON, AF/C
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: DARFUR REBEL MOVEMENTS HINT AT COOPERATION WHILE MINNAWI
ENJOYS DARFUR'S RAINY SEASON

REF: A) KHARTOUM 1067
B) KHARTOUM 992

1. (SBU) Summary: Confidants of Minni Minawi report he has no
immediate plans to return soon from Darfur. Meanwhile political
representatives of JEM, SLA/MM, SLA/U and SLA/AW all hint at a new,
grass-roots political initiative among Darfur rebel groups. JEM
reports cooperation with SLA/AW, SLA/Unity appears delighted by
their reception with JEM in Geneva last week, and Abdulwahid's
brother-in-law intends to push Darfur rebel representatives and
civil society leaders towards an agreement in Arusha, Tanzania at
the end of the month. While all this may come to nothing, the advent
of the rainy season in Darfur is also lowering the odds that Zaghawa
factions will unite in a "Zaghawa tsunami" to attack Khartoum
following on the recent ICC indictment of President Bashir. End
summary.
2. (SBU) After weeks in Darfur, Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA)
signatory Minni Minnawi is showing no signs of returning to Khartoum
and reengaging with the Government of National Unity (GNU).
Abdelaziz Sam, legal secretary for the Transitional Darfur Regional
Authority and close friend of Minnawi, told Poloff on July 17,
"Minni has no reason to come back to Khartoum. He has things to do
in the field. He is sending a message that the GNU needs to fill
gaps in humanitarian security." Mohammed Bashir, Minnawi's chief of
staff in Khartoum, confirmed that Minnawi will remain in Darfur: "He
is unhappy with the implementation of the DPA, which is not going
well. He won't stay in Khartoum without developments in
implementation. He has no intention to come back." Within Khartoum,
Minnawi's absence is causing his movement to churn with discord, as
a small group of TDRA officials unsuccessfully approached Government
of Sudan (GOS) official Nafie Ali Nafie to propose a so-called
"white coup" that would have the SLM/MM Health Minister in South
Darfur replace Minni Minawi as Senior Presidential Assistant
(septel). Local press reported that Minnawi reassured President
Bashir via phone that he intends to return to Khartoum to resume his
duties, but his advisors said they cannot confirm this phone call.
3. (SBU) While Sam denied that SLA/MM is conferring with DPA
non-signatories on a Darfur political or security agreement, Bashir
said the movement is in "close dialogue" with non-signatories,
currently holding meetings in the field and in Khartoum to further
nascent peace-making efforts. Bashir declined to comment on which
groups are meeting, but added that Minnawi would likely return from
Darfur to Khartoum after a "narrow circle of insiders" reach a
conclusion on how to advance the political process. Although Minnawi
has not been reachable by phone for several days, his commanders
have confirmed he is ready to meet CDA Fernandez on Thursday, July
24 in Umm Barro, North Darfur. Minnawi jokingly told Fernandez by
phone on July 20 that "your visit will determine whether or not I
return, especially if the regime blocks you again from visiting
me."
4. (SBU) Following last week's meetings in Geneva between
representatives of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and
SLA/Unity (ref. A), political leaders within JEM were optimistic
about the prospects for peace talks. Gibreil Fideil, Khalil
Ibrahim's brother, told Poloff from his home in London, "We are
working on a roadmap to peace, and we are ready to move to the next
stage. We expect contact with the new mediator (Bassole) very soon."
When asked about rumors that JEM field commanders are planning an
imminent march on Khartoum or other locations outside Darfur, Fideil
denied these reports. "If there is room for a peaceful solution,
then we are ready - we are open to negotiations and that's our
priority." Fideil strongly denied that JEM took part in the July 8
attacks on UNAMID, noting that JEM's leadership had condemned the
attack, and suggested that breakaway commanders from SLA/Unity had
masterminded the attacks which killed 7 UNAMID peacekeepers. Omer
Abdulhamid, JEM's political representative in El Fasher, echoed
Fideil's regard for increased cooperation among JEM and other rebel
groups, as seen in Geneva, and reported that JEM has begun working
together with political representatives from SLA/Abdulwahid, with
the goal of forming one unit in any upcoming negotiations.
5. (SBU) Speaking with Poloff at the embassy July 17, Abdelgasim
Seifeldin, brother-in-law of the rebel-in-exile Abdulwahid, told
Poloff that a broad swath of Darfuris are preparing a list of
demands as a precondition for talks with the government. He said
representatives from civil society organizations and some armed
rebel movements intend to finalize their plans at a meeting in
Arusha, Tanazania July 28-29. (Note: It appears that the Arusha
meeting is being organized by Tijane Sesse, a well-regarded former
governor of Darfur. The meeting does not appear to be sponsored by
any particular NGO nor is it sponsored by the UN, but rather is an
informal meeting of Darfurian intellectuals/civil society and
apparently some representatives of SLA/AW as well. End note.)
Politically aligned with the SPLM but an active voice for his fellow
Darfuris, Seifeldin sees Darfuris themselves as the only ones
capable of uniting the various factions, leaders and movements.
Citing a Sudanese expression, he told Poloff, "Only a turtle knows

KHARTOUM 00001093 002 OF 002


where to bite another turtle." After recounting his previous trips
to the United States, Seifeldin noted that financial assistance
would be necessary should the international community be interested
in supporting a political conference before the end of the year.
6. (SBU) Spokesman of SLA/Unity Mahgoub Hussein called Poloff from
his London home several times this past week to express his delight
following the Geneva meetings. "SLA/Unity has good cooperation with
international organizations, and with the Justice and Equality
Movement," and later added, "We would like for representatives from
SLA/Unity to travel to America just like Minni Minnawi." After
denying that commanders from SLA/Unity perpetrated the UNAMID
attack, Hussein informed Poloff of rumors in the Sudanese diaspora
that ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo intends to charge two
SLA/Unity commanders with war crimes, specifically for the October
2007 Haskanita attack against Nigerian peacekeepers. "If (SLA
commander Abubakr) Kado and another commander are charged by the
ICC, and if the ICC issues the warrants, SLA/Unity will cut them
from the movement and surrender them to the ICC," claimed Hussein.

7. (SBU) JEM's military spokesman released a statement accusing
Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) of bombing an isolated village near
Jebel Moon, in West Darfur, on Friday, July 18, killing two, but
UNAMID sources were unable to confirm the bombing. The El Fasher
office of the UN Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) was only
able to confirm that one SAF improvised bomber (an Antonov or C-130)
and two SAF Mig fighter aircraft had bombed an uninhabited area near
the village of Tarantara, in South Darfur near the junctions of the
three states, on Thursday, July 17. Frazer King of UNDSS surmised
that this may have been a dry run for a larger operation, but had
not received word of any subsequent SAF aerial bombardment.

8. (SBU) Comment: Minnawi's extended stay in Darfur has made
Khartoum very nervous, but the arrival of the rainy season and signs
that there is not (yet) an overt cooperation agreement between JEM,
SLA/U, and SLA/MM should reassure Khartoum that a repeat performance
of the JEM attack on Khartoum is not likely at the moment. We don't
discount the possibility of a JEM attack on sites in Darfur or
Kordofan, however. It is interesting to note that there is
significant positioning occurring among the rebel movements and even
with civil society groups in advance of engagement in earnest by the
Chief Mediator. Post will report additional information about the
proposed meeting in Arusha when it becomes available.

FERNANDEZ

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