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Cablegate: Darfur Roundup: Attack On Slm/Mm, Urf Dissolution, and Jem

VZCZCXRO9037
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1130/01 2110748
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 290748Z JUL 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1444
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001130

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 PHUM KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: DARFUR ROUNDUP: ATTACK ON SLM/MM, URF DISSOLUTION, AND JEM
CRITICSM OF BASHIR'S PLAN FOR DARFUR

REF: KHARTOUM 567

KHARTOUM 00001130 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) SUMMARY: On July 28, Minni Minnawi and two other SLM/MM
leaders confirmed reports that a Government of Sudan (GoS) security
force attacked and killed four SLM policemen on July 26 in North
Darfur. SLM/MM leaders described the event as an "intentional
attack" on their movement coinciding with President Bashir's visit
to Darfur. Meanwhile, United Resistance Front leaders dismissed
reports of the dissolution of their rebel alliance, though admitted
that the United Revolutionary Force Front (URFF) had left the
alliance months ago. Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) leaders
also denied newspaper reports of their acceptance of President
Bashir's vague Darfur initiative. END SUMMARY.

ATTACK ON SLM/MM POLICE OUTPOST
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
2. (SBU) On July 28, Senior Presidential Assistant Minni Minawi
spoke with Poloff by satellite phone from North Darfur, and
confirmed reports that four MM soldiers were killed at an outpost in
an attack by GOS forces on July 26 (he had previously denied a
specific media report of SAF bombing though). Minawi referred Poloff
to his military spokesman, Mohammed Dirbeen, for more information,
and restated his eagerness to speak with CDA Fernandez later this
week in Darfur, should the regime allow him to travel there.

3. (SBU) Later in the day, SLM/MM military spokesman Mohammed
Dirbeen also confirmed that 36 Central Reserve Force vehicles
attacked an SLM police outpost near Abu Hamra (20 km south of
Shangil Tobaya) killing four officers. Dirbeen said that this
convoy of GoS security forces (and formally a janjaweed unit widely
known as the "Abu Terra brigade") was traveling from El-Fasher to
Niyala on July 26. As the brigade passed the SLM outpost in Abu
Hamra, the government forces opened fire on the SLM police, driving
away the policemen, killing four of the men, and later completely
burning the police station. Dirbeen stated that these events follow
widespread bombing of Darfur occurring simultaneously with President
Bashir's tour of Darfur. "He [Bashir] calls for peace and all the
while he is bombing Jebel Moon, Jebel Marra, and all over the
region," stated Dirbeen. Dirbeen added that UNAMID or
representatives of the international community should immediately
visit these sites, collect evidence, and issue reports on these
security incidents. Dirbeen said that the government needs to hand
over the leaders of the central reserve unit responsible for the
attack or present SLM/MM with immediate compensation or else "there
will be big problems." The SLM's Capacity and Party Building
manager Bushara Hassan separately told poloff that this was an
"intentional attack" on SLM Minnawi forces whose "sole mission was
to try to bring security and decrease banditry in that region."
Hassan said that Minnawi authorized SLM military spokesman Mohamed
Dirbeen (who reported the story to Reuters and Al-Jazeera) to speak
for the movement about this event.

URF DENIES BREAKUP
- - - - - - - - - -
4. (SBU) On July 28 Poloff spoke with Bahar Idriss Abu Garda,
Chairman of JEM/Collective Leadership and head of the coalition
United Resistance Front (URF). Reacting to a report claiming that
three of the five rebel groups had walked out of the URF coalition,
Abu Garda dismissed the report and stated that URF remains intact
with four of the original five movements. (Note: URF was formed as aQ
result Of SPLM-hosted Darfur consolidation talks as a conglomerate
of five separate movements: the Arab-dominated United Revolutionary
Forces Front (URFF), SLA-Field Command, the National Movement for
ReForm and Development (NMRD), SLA-Khamis Abdalla, and the Justice
and Equality Movement/Collective LeaderShip (JEM/CL). End Note) Abu
Garda stated that the only movement to have pulled out od URF was
one that left previously, URFF. That pullout had come as a surprise,
he said, because URFF representatives gave no indication that they
were unhappy with the movement. He speculated that URFF was goaded
into withdrawing by Eritrea, who is seeking renewed influence with
the rebel movements after losing some control. He also stated that
some URFF rebels see the pullout as a mistake, noting that one
individual called Him from Asmara expressing a desire to return.

5. (SBU) When queried by Poloff specifically about the departures nf
Adam Ali Shoggar, Khamis Abdella Abakr and Ibrahim al-Zubaidi, Abu
Garda framed these as individual departurEs and not representative
of any rebel factions. He noted that Ibrahim al-Zubaidi "left months
ago" anD blamed Adam Ali Shoggar for announcing thE joint departure
in an attempt to create discord within the URF. He also played downQ
the departure ofKhamis Abdalla, stating that from the first days of
URF he had opted not to play an active role due to his poor health.
Poloff alsk spoke with Tajedine Niam, JEM/CL Political Commissar who
served as JEM negotiator in Abuja, who stated that "some individuals
are leaving for various purposes" but URF is still very solid and
holding together.

KHARTOUM 00001130 002 OF 002

6. (SBU) Abu Garda also noted that three days ago, URF
representatives met with Minni Minnawi in Darfur to discuss on the
ground cooperation on humanitarian and security issues. Abu Garda
relayed that Minnawi discussed a possible visit by CDA Fernandez to
SLM/MM in the field, and Abu Garda told poloff that he too would
like to meet the CDA, especially "to arrange a meeting with Special
Envoy Williamson" whenever he decides to next visit Sudan.

JEM DENIES APPROVAL OF BASHIR'S DARFUR INITIATIVE
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
7. (SBU) On July 28, the pro-government "Akbar Al-Youm" reported
that the GoS welcomed the JEM acceptance of President Bashir's
Darfur initiative. JEM Spokesman Ahmed Hussein later denied this
report to poloff, describing it as propaganda orchestrated by the
intelligence and security. Hussein also stated that the JEM
representative quoted in the story, legislative Council president
Dr. Tahir Adam Al-Faki, was not authorized to speak on behalf of
JEM, describing him as "a colleague who is very simple and
occasionally troublesome." Hussein stated that JEM will consider
any proposal that is presented in formal negotiations with
international observers. He said that Bashir's initiative consists
"just of general statements presented in the media."

8. (SBU) On other issues, Hussein noted that newly appointed UN/AU
joint Mediator Djibril Bassole has reached out numerous times to JEM
leaders and that he was expecting a phone call from Bassole on July
28. Although critical of Bassole's silence on Ocampo's request for
a warrant against President Bashir, Hussein was hopeful that Bassole
will bring a new energy to the peace process. Hussein said that JEM
will not be attending a meeting in Arusha for Darfur leaders
sponsored by the Darfur Relief and Documentation Centre, as it is
designed for intellectuals, civil society leaders and academics, not
Darfur rebel movements. He said he discussed the initiative with
DRDC director Abdel Bagi Jibril, and that although some loosely
affiliated JEM members may attend the meeting, they will not
represent JEM. With respect to the reported URF breakup, Jibril
stated that URF became irrelevant long ago. He said while it is
unlikely that URF splinter groups would join JEM, there may be close
coordination with some of them (such as former URF leaders such as
Khamis Abdalla Abakir) in the future.

COMMENT
- - - -
9. (SBU) The day's URF and JEM stories appear to be the work of
the GoS's state information machine. Nonetheless, these distortions
sparked some other interesting information including URF's claim of
meeting Minnawi this week and Abu Garda's hope to meet U.S.
leadership in the near future. The insubordination of one JEM
leader's comments to the press appears to be a rare slip for the
highly coordinated and tightly controlled JEM media machine.
Hussein appeared embarrassed by his organization's blunder and the
quick GoS's exploitation of it. Most significant of all these
events is the attack on the SLM police outpost, especially as it
coincided with the Bashir visit and Minnawi's continued protest
against the GNU. While it is difficult to assess whether this was
an "intentional attack" as SLM/MM claim, or an out-of-control
militia force, there is need for more UNAMID fact-finding and
reporting on security incidents, as Dirbeen and dozens of other
Darfuris have constantly reminded us (and as we constantly remind
UNAMID - but they need to hear it again).

FERNANDEZ

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