Cablegate: Jem's Senior Leaders Discuss Rebel Unification and External

DE RUEHKH #0974/01 1840908
P 020908Z JUL 08




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) SUMMARY. On June 27-28, three senior Justice and Equality
Movement (JEM) leaders in London separately met poloff and discussed
JEM's ideas on rebel unification; its relations with the SPLM,
SLM/Minni Minnawi, Chad, and Libya; and JEM's expectations for the
content of any peace deal. These leaders also attempted to dispel
"misperceptions" about JEM including its Islamic agenda, its close
ties to Hassan Al-Turabi, and its use of child soldiers. This cable
is the second of two parts on JEM's senior leadership in London.

2. (U) On June 27, poloff met separately with Dr. Gibriel Ibrahim
(JEM's Senior Economic Advisor and brother of Khalil Ibrahim) and
later with JEM spokesman Ahmed Hussein Adam. On June 28, poloff met
lead negotiator Ahmed Tugot.

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3. (SBU) SLA/ABDUL WAHID: Tugot and Ibrahim stated that Abdul
Wahid Nur continues to be an obstruction to rebel unification.
Tugot remarked that during his visit to Paris to meet Foreign
Minister Deng Alor, Abdul Wahid refused to see JEM representatives.
Tugot stated that JEM's focus is no longer on Abdul Wahid, but on
working directly with his field commanders. Tugot stated that "even
without Abdul Wahid you will see a great movement of the Fur people
to JEM." Ibrahim had an equally negative view of Abdul Wahid, saying
"Abdul Wahid will not join us. He thinks that the West will fix
everything and that they will come to his rescue." Like Tugot,
Ibrahim also stated that JEM is reaching out to the Fur, saying "The
Fur and the IDPs do not belong to anyone and many of them have been
very enthusiastic about our work and the Omdurman operation."

4. (SBU) SLA/UNITY: Not surprisingly, JEM leaders were equally
critical of their rivals from SLA/Unity. According to Ibrahim,
Unity is divided along ethnic lines and has an internal struggle
between Abdalla Yahia and Sharif Harir. Ahmed Tugot stated that JEM
is in direct discussions with Abdallah Yehia and that "JEM is very
serious about trying to unite the movements but it is difficult when
there is a clan struggle going on within Unity."

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5. (SBU) JEM leaders confirmed that Minni Minnawi met Khalil
Ibrahim in Eastern Chad in late June, and stated that Minni sought
guarantee from Ibrahim for the return of his defected commanders to
SLM/MM and in exchange, Minnawi would agree to significant
coordination under separate organizational umbrellas. Tugot stated
that Khalil Ibrahim turned down this deal, adding, "Minni is no
longer a player - it is no longer 2006." Tugot predicted that
Minnawi's influence will continue to decrease and that "he will soon
be left with only his very small Zaghawa clan." Ibrahim also
criticized Minnawi saying that he never recovered from NCP
negotiator Mahjzoub Al-Khalifa's death (in June 2007) and Dr.
Nafie's takeover of the Darfur portfolio. He said that Minnawi is
not a capable political leader, and that his own ruthless tactics
and search for power ended up sidelining many educated and capable
commanders. Ibrahim and Adam were more optimistic than Tugot about
a possible alliance with Minnawi saying, "we are thinking of a broad
front where everyone can fit in." Adam separately claimed, "Minnawi
committed a lot of atrocities and can be ruthless, but we fought
alongside him and unity with the movements is important to us."

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6. (SBU) Tugot, Ahmed, and Ibrahim all stated that the Norwegians
helped facilitate a meeting between JEM and the SPLM in Paris in
late June. Ahmed described the meeting as a very discrete
discussion with Deng Alor (reftel). According to Tugot, the meeting
focused on SPLM-JEM relations, and "helped dispel SPLM's
misconceptions about JEM, including our alleged links with Turabi
and our perceived Islamic agenda." Tugot stated that the SPLM has
done very little in Darfur and during the negotiations for the DPA
the NCP exploited the SPLM for its own goals. Adam stated that he
realizes that the SPLM is interested in JEM for its own interests,
as "They [the SPLM] realize that they need friends in the government
if they want a smooth transition and want to secede." Adam agreed
that the "Norwegians were very helpful in facilitating this positive
meeting," and that he expects that there will be another JEM-SPLM
meeting sometime in July, maybe in London or in Kenya. He stated
that Salwa Benaya, an SPLM representative and member of the National
Assembly, also recently visited London and met with JEM officials

7. (SBU) Ibrahim stated that the SPLM should not fear that JEM

KHARTOUM 00000974 002 OF 003

will discard the CPA. He stated that JEM has endorsed the CPA, the
bill of rights contained in it, and the federal system that it
initiated. Ibrahim cautioned though, that the DPA failed because
the international community attempted to protect the CPA at all
costs. He stated that with respect to the composition of the
National Assembly, the South should retain approximately 1/3 of the
seats, and that JEM and Darfuris should be allotted 20% from the 52%
of seats allotted to the NCP. Ibrahim stated that the south should
still have the right to the referendum for secession in 2011, but
that "we should take another look at the timeline laid out by the
CPA with respect to elections and other things." Tugot separately
agreed, stating that JEM has started to generally discuss the
timeline of the CPA with the SPLM.

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8. (SBU) CHAD: JEM leaders stated that the interests of Chad and
JEM currently overlap, but there is no permanent strategic
commitment between them. Ibrahim stated that years ago Deby vowed
to eliminate JEM and that he will not be a reliable ally for JEM for
the long term. Ibrahim also stated that the clan differences in the
Zaghawa are significant and that Deby appears concerned about a Kobe
Clan alliance against him (Ibahim is a Kobe). Nonetheless, both
Ibrahim and Tugot stated that the GoS seeks regime change in Chad,
and that this constitutes a threat to JEM. Ibrahim stated that he
told GoS officials that it should be easier for the Sudanese
Government to try to solve Sudan's internal problems than to try to
overthrow another country, "but they do not listen to us." Tugot
stated that JEM did fight the Chadian opposition in Eastern Chad,
claiming that JEM did not lose many fighters, and took 85 vehicles
from the Chadian opposition all over Eastern Chad.

9. (SBU) LIBYA: JEM leaders downplayed their ties with Libya.
Tugot stated that JEM has an informal relationship with Libya, one
where JEM "is in touch with them, and nothing more than that."
Ibrahim stated that Libya has not been supportive of JEM "from day
one" and that Libya's central motivation in the conflict has been to
avoid the presence of a strong international force along its
borders. Ibrahim said that the GoL has little leverage over the GoS
and that GoL officials are not patient enough to dig deeply into
Darfur's root issues. Ibrahim described Libyan Intelligence Chief
Abdallah Senussi as "someone who is open to listening to the
movements" and Ali Trekki as "supportive of the Government of Chad."

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10. (SBU) JEM leaders refuted the idea that JEM is an Islamic
movement, funded solely by Chad, and interested more in power in
Khartoum than in the people of Darfur. Ibrahim stated, "you in the
West accuse us of being an Islamic movement and directed by Chad.
These two things contradict each other." Ibrahim admitted that some
JEM members did fight against the South during the civil war, but
that this should not be a condemnation of the movement as a whole.
He said that his brother, Khalil, only served as a military
physician in the war. Adam stated that JEM is not in favor of
instituting sharia law and that it supports full diplomatic
relations with Israel. He said that although some JEM leaders used
to be part of the government, "If you say we came from the same
group as the regime, you need to ask why we left in the first
place." Adam stated that JEM has no significant relationship with
the Popular Congress Party's Hassan Al-Turabi, and that Al-Turabi
has no future in any Sudanese government. Adam, Ibrahim, and Tugot
also emphatically refuted the idea that JEM used child soldiers in
the May 10 attack. Ibrahim and Adam both claimed that the
Government constructed this, as the children were taken from the
Suad Al-Fatih Quranic School in Omdurman and were beaten into
admitting that they were part of JEM's forces

11. (SBU) JEM leaders stated that they see the media as an
important part of their battle for Darfur. They said that the
Government of Sudan viewed Khalil Ibrahim's lengthy interview on
Al-Jazeera as a major threat, and that GoS officials worked hard not
to allow the interview's most important segments to be aired.
Ibrahim stated that presidential advisor Dr. Ghazi Salah Ad-Din
personally traveled to Qatar to try to prevent the tape from being
broadcast. According to Ibrahim, Ghazi was successful in advising
Al-Jazeera officials to only broadcast trivial parts of the
interview focusing on the Arab league or Abdul Wahid's office in Tel
Aviv. Ibrahim stated that Ghazi was able to accomplish this through
his personal connections and did not raise the issue with officials
from the Government of Qatar. Ibrahim stated that although his
brother's interview was largely undermined by the GoS, that Khalil
will discuss some of these ideas further in an upcoming interview
with the pan-Arab newspaper "As-Sharq Al-Awsat."

KHARTOUM 00000974 003 OF 003

12. (SBU) Ibrahim also commented on recent press coverage
detailing the "confession" of JEM commander Abdel-Aziz al-Nur
Al-Asher. (Note: Asher was arrested on May 22, attempting to cross
into Eritrea and pro-regime Sudanese press such as "Al-Rai-al-Aam"
devoted significant front page space to describing his confession.
END NOTE.) Ibrahim stated that he knows that Asher "would never say
the things that are coming out in the papers." Ibrahim added that
the newspaper articles, however, "do give us signals from where the
GoS is getting its information and we can figure out who is
divulging information from what is said." Ibrahim admitted that
Asher's capture and Jamali Hassan Jelaladin's death were difficult
for JEM, but that "is part of the struggle and to be expected."

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13. (SBU) Ibrahim and the other JEM leaders separately emphasized
that JEM wants an improved relationship with the U.S. "If we have
done anything wrong to the U.S., we want to know what, and we will
try to correct that," stated Ibrahim. Ibrahim asked whether the
U.S.'s perception of JEM would change under a new administration.
Poloff stated that it is unlikely that it would, and emphasized that
JEM should renounce its military ambitions as a first step.

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14. (SBU) Ibrahim stated that JEM has generally outlined what it
wants in a peace deal. According to Ibrahim, power sharing must
involve a vice president position, significant positions in the
cabinet, and at least 20% of the national assembly. Leadership
positions in the armed forces, police, security, and civil service
are all necessary components, said Ibrahim. He said that JEM has
made it clear that Darfur should be one state with powers similar to
those granted to the South, though self-determination is not
important "at this point." Those affected by war should be
compensated, IDPs should be supported in the return to their
homelands, and Darfur should receive reconstruction and development
funds, said Ibrahim. Ibrahim stated that JEM forces should not be
disarmed during the interim period, "as this is the best guarantee
for the implementation of agreement." Ibrahim also stated that
wealth-sharing provisions must detail future national revenues and
an agreement for percentage of oil revenue for Darfur before
production starts. Ibrahim insisted that there should be a general
political framework before there is a ceasefire.

- - - -
15. (SBU) JEM's message to poloff tracks almost precisely with what
JEM told the JMST's Boubou Niang and Muin Shrim on June 26 in
London. JEM truly sees itself as the biggest player Darfur and all
three of its representatives attempted to backhandedly discredit the
other movements, including SLM/Minnawi. Its emphasis on bringing
the Fur into their movement is a wise maneuver, however unlikely
their prospects for success in this claimed endeavor. JEM's
emphasis on working directly with SLA/AW field commanders mirrors
the strategy of the AU/UN's JMST, not to mention other rebel groups
including SLM/Unity and even some of Abdul Wahid's own political
advisors. Norwegian involvement in bringing together the SPLM and
JEM and the SPLM's willingness to meet is noteworthy, although
Norway has on several occasions encouraged SPLM efforts to unify the
Darfur movements. The meeting was obviously conducted discretely
given widespread condemnation of JEM's May 10 attack on Omdurman.
Although questions remain about JEM's Islamic ideology, its members'
role in the war in the South, and its ongoing relationship with
Chad, the Sudanese and the international community will inevitably
have to work with JEM on a solution to the war in Darfur sooner or
later, whether we like it or not.


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