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Cablegate: Slm/Mm On East Jebel Marra Fighting and Zamzam Incursion

VZCZCXRO3539
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1406/01 2600641
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 160641Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1910
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001406

DEPT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON, AF/SPG
NSC FOR PITTMAN AND HUDSON
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: SLM/MM ON EAST JEBEL MARRA FIGHTING AND ZAMZAM INCURSION

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: On September 15, three senior leaders of the
Sudan Liberation Movement of Minni Minnawi (SLM/MM) in North Darfur
told poloff that SLM/MM "routed" GoS forces in East Jebel Marra on
September 14 following combat on September 13 in the same region.
SLM/MM leaders also gave a detailed description of the attack on
Zamzam IDP camp on September 10. SLM/MM leadership described the
GoS military campaign in North Darfur state as "very significant,"
as it is the first time that the GoS has used its own forces to
directly and openly attack SLM/MM. END SUMMARY

2. (SBU) Poloff met with the following SLM/MM leaders on September
15: Ahmed Bahr, a representative at the North Darfur Legislative
Council; Adam Ali Ware, a former ceasefire commission representative
for SLM/MM, and Mohammed Yousif the Secretary General for SLM/MM in
North Darfur.

SLM/MM "ROUTED" GOS FORCES ON SEPTEMBER 14
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3. (SBU) According to these sources, following a failed attack on
SLM/MM on September 13, GoS forces retreated to Tawila. On
September 14, GoS forces then reportedly staged another attack on
SLM/MM forces south of Tawila. Ware stated that SLM/MM forces led
by field commanders Ahmed Abu Diggin and Muhammad Shain were
prepared for the attack and "routed" the GoS. Secretary General
Yousif stated that he does not expect any more fighting in this
region in the coming days "as we so clearly defeated the GoS force."
Yousif predicted that if there is fighting, it will return to far
North Darfur near Birmaza and Disa. These contacts stated that
although GoS casualty figures are not known for this second attack,
at least 200 GoS fighters died in the first wave of fighting.

EARLIER FIGHTING IN EAST JEBEL MARRA
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4. (SBU) SLM/MM leaders stated that heavy fighting on September 13
preceded the "decisive victory" on September 14. These contacts
said that GoS forces started the attack with heavy aerial
bombardment at 15:00 on September 13. A force of 80-90 vehicles
then followed the bombing, accoriding to Ware. In addition to GOS
"technicals" (Landcruiers,) the force reportedly included three
combat helicopters, four armored personnel carriers (APCs) and 20
military trucks. Sources stated that the military trucks dropped
off a large number of troops and then retreated, "as the GoS is more
keen on preserving military vehicles than its people." Contacts
stated that fighting continued until approximately midnight,
resulting in the deaths of three children, one woman, and five
SLM/MM fighters. Additionally, one section of the village of Colgi
was entirely destroyed in the attack. Seventeen SLM/MM fighters
were wounded in the attack and were transported to Dar Es Salaam (N.
Darfur) for treatment, and these SLM representatives reported ICRC
traveled there and treated the SLM/MM fighters. Ware, Bahr, and
Yousif repeated several times that all of the fighting between
SLM/MM and GoS forces occurred in liberated areas under SLM/MM
control.

COMPOSITION OF GOS FORCE
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
5. (SBU) SLM/MM contacts stated that the GoS force was led by
janjaweed and accompanied by Central Reserve Police (CRP) and
Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF). They said that in these most recent
attacks in Birmaza and East Jebel Marra the GoS has relied heavily
on Arab tribes for the majority of its fighters. (Ahmed Bahr
claimed to have seen a long list of Arab casualties from the Zayidia
tribe from the SLM/MM-GoS fighting confirming this.) Money and
longstanding grievances against the Zaghawa have motivated the Arab
tribes to join the GoS force, they said. These contacts also alleged
that many janjaweed are being quickly incorporated into mid-level
and senior positions in the GoS military and paramilitary. In the
latest wave, over 700 former janjaweed were trained in Eastern Sudan
and are awaiting a formal commission to GoS forces following a
post-Ramadan graduation ceremony, according to Bahr. They said the
CRP are an elite and well-paid force, claiming that even its lowest
ranking soldiers earn more than senior officials in the ordinary GoS
police. (Note: This seems a bit of a stretch, but is worth noting
the perception that the CRP are "professional" and well-paid. End
note.)

ZAMZAM ATTACK ACCORDING TO SLM/MM
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6. (SBU) SLM/MM contacts stated that on September 10, seventeen
Central Reserve Police vehicles entered Zamzam IDP camp. The CRP
then destroyed the SLM/MM headquarters, freed four individuals at an
SLM/MM prison, and pillaged the Zamzam market. According to these
sources, the attack started when a well-organized CRP force bypassed
an SLM/MM checkpoint at 19:00 on September 11 on the southern side
of Zamzam and traveled directly to the SLM/MM office. The CRP

KHARTOUM 00001406 002 OF 002


allegedly entered the office and stole SLM/MM information, office
equipment, and approximately $10,000 USD before burning the office.
Following this attack on their headquarters, the CRP entered the
SLM/MM controlled prison and released 4 inmates and detained three
SLM/MM "policemen" (who still remain in CRP custody as of September
15.) "They were targeting SLM/MM by going straight to our
headquarters and prison," alleged Yousif.

7. (SBU) Following these targeted attacks on SLM/MM facilities, the
CRP force then reportedly entered the market, shooting their weapons
into the air and intentionally scaring the IDPs, said Yousif. The
force looted approximately 200 shops, stealing close to 500 mobile
phones from IDPs and several shops, and burning over 25 homes. He
said the force also beat several IDPs including one pregnant woman
who later miscarried as a result. These sources claim that 14
people in all were wounded in the attack. According to these
contacts, the North Darfur police were equally surprised by this CRP
incursion. Within minutes of the CRP movements in Zamzam, the
regular GoS police reportedly entered the market and fired upon CRP
forces. Ware stated that once the GoS police realized that the CRP
was responsible for the attack, the GoS police quickly retreated.

8. (SBU) SLM/MM leaders stated that following the attack, they
repeatedly tried to meet with the North Darfur Governor, who
canceled three consecutive appointments on September 12. SLM/MM
leaders finally cornered the governor on September 13 who,
accompanied by members of his State Security Implementation
Committee, justified the CRP incursion saying that SLM/MM was
unlawfully detaining IDPs. Yousif said he responded that the DPA
does allow for the establishment of signatory-controlled courts and
prisons. Following a heated discussion, the Governor eventually
agreed to set up two separate committees, one to investigate the CRP
attack, and another to assess overall security in North Darfur.
Yousif stated that the committee will consist of six members, three
from SLM/MM and three others from the government. "We are not
entirely satisfied with this, it is more like a tranquilizer than a
real and final solution," stated Yousif.

INCREASED FRUSTRATION
- - - - - - - - - - - -
9. (SBU) SLM/MM North Darfur leaders stated that they expect that
more incursions could occur in IDP camps as the government
intentionally seeks to break up the camps. They claimed that over
4,000 IDPs have already left Zamzam following the attack. All three
SLM/MM contacts strongly asserted that both the attacks in Birmaza
and East Jebel Marra were specifically designed to target Minnawi's
forces. "How can the government conduct these raids when it touts
its Sudan People's Initiative, discusses a Ramadan truce, and
targets its partners in the Government of National Unity," noted
Yousif. Continuing, Yousif emphasized that the GoS "only knows how
to use power, force, and coercion, and it will take a real power
like the U.S. to forcefully put this government in line."

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE FIGHTING
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
10. (SBU) SLM/MM contacts acknowledged that the GoS had attacked
SLM/MM forces before, but only indirectly with proxy forces (such as
SLM/Free Will.) "This is the first time that the GoS has attacked
us with one of its own forces," stated Yousif. Bahr called the
attack "a big change in GoS strategy" as "this attack was out in the
open for all to see that the GoS really is aggressively targeting
us."

COMMENT
- - - -
11. (SBU) Post contacts presented one side of the story. We have
no independent confirmation of SLM/MM's reports of victory, on
numbers of dead, GoS vehicles destroyed or attacks on displaced
Zamzam residents. Though much of what was said cannot be verified at
this time, this report shows SLM/MM perceptions of the events on the
ground. The fighting at least in Jebel Marra seems to have died
down. SLM/MM North Darfur leaders believe that the GoS is
intentionally targeting their movement, attacking them openly and
directly for the first time in a widespread military campaign, and
attempting to break up IDP camps. Whether accurate or not, these
perceptions will be one of many factors driving the Darfur conflict
in the foreseeable future. CDA will raise these issues with regime
officials this week and urges that we make clear to the GOS at every
level that military escalation by the regime and heavy-handed
incursions into IDP camps (such as what led to the Kalma Camp
Massacre) are American redlines in Sudan.

FERNANDEZ

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