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Cablegate: South Darfur Security Update

VZCZCXRO7262
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHGI RUEHKUK RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1745/01 3381111
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 031111Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2462
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 001745

DEPT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON, AF/SPG, AF/C
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: SOUTH DARFUR SECURITY UPDATE

REF A) KHARTOUM 1707

1. (SBU) Summary: Fighting between rebel and government forces in
South Darfur had been largely absent for several months until the
November 19 SLA/MM and SLA/U attack on a central police convoy and
subsequent government bombings, sources told poloffs during a trip
to Nyala November 24-26. Meanwhile, violent clashes between tribes
of South Darfur have unexpectedly subsided over the past month,
though some questioned the sustainability of government-brokered
reconciliation efforts. Sources told poloffs that the government
continues to recruit former janjaweed militiamen for regular and
paramilitary forces, though some disgruntled Arab tribal factions in
South Darfur have shown inclinations of turning against the
government. Banditry on South Darfur's main transit routes has
decreased since the GOS has deployed a company of Sudanese Armed
Forces (SAF) in Tortahan, southeast of Nyala. Carjackings of UNAMID
and INGO vehicles within the city of Nyala also have decreased since
UNAMID instituted a two-car minimum for travel and boosted the use
of its fleet of over 70 mini-buses. The mini-buses and other
non-sport utility vehicles are not very attractive targets for
rebel/militia bandits due to lack of off-road capability. While
UNAMID officials claimed credit for helping reduce insecurity in
South Darfur, traditional Fur leaders still dismissed the force as
impotent and urged direct USG military intervention to establish
security in the region. End Summary.

GOS-REBEL FIGHTING STARTS ANEW IN SOUTH DARFUR
--------------------------------------------- --

2. (SBU) In a November 24 meeting with poloffs, UNDSS Officer Will
Mulders stated that he had heard reports of Russian MiG fighters
bombing rebel positions in the area around Abu Ajura in South Darfur
on November 22, though noted that UNAMID has not been able to
confirm the details of the attack. Mulders speculated that the
bombing was retaliation against SLA/MM and SLA/U for their assault
on a Central Reserve Police convoy near Abu Hamra on November 19
(Reftel). Until these incidents, fighting between the rebels and
the GOS have been largely absent from South Darfur for several
months, he said. There were also reports of internal fighting among
Darfuri rebels in neighboring Bahr al Ghazal in mid-November.
According to a UNAMID poloff, an exchange of fire between the forces
of SLA/Ahmed Abdulshafie and Saddiq Abdelkarim Nasir, both members
of the so-called "Group of 11" alliance of former SLA factions,
resulted in the death of the latter. Saddiq was one of the few
members of the G-11 who had military strength on the ground with
over 300 men, said the UNAMID poloff, but the implications of his
death are unclear. Abdulshafie remains close to the SPLM since the
Juba Darfur rebel unification process in late 2007.

BUT TRIBAL CLASHES SUBSIDING
----------------------------

3. (SBU) Mulders stated the volatile relations between South
Darfur's many tribal groups, often characterized by violent clashes,
have actually calmed over the past month. Mounting tensions over
land between the Zaghawa (primarily SLA/MM and SLA/Unity) and the
Arab Maaliya tribe over grazing rights around the town Muhajiriya
have unexpectedly dwindled, and clashes between the pro-regime
Salamat, Habbania and Fallata tribes around Tulus have also
subsided. UNAMID has not been able to access the latter area, but
it appears to be relatively calm, he said. Mulders was unsure what
to attribute this decrease in hostilities to, but noted that
predictions of an earlier-than-usual southern migration of nomadic
tribes had never materialized.

4. (SBU) UNAMID Sector South Commander Brigadier General F.E. Eze
told poloffs that Sector South has remained relatively calm, noting
that tensions between Zaghawa and Maaliya around Muhajiriya and
Gereida subsided in part because of UNAMID intervention. "The
problems began when the Maaliya, the original owners of the land,
were driven away by the Zaghawa," he said. "Minnawi's men tried to
impose a tax on Maaliya for grazing rights," and that's when
problems ensued. He credited UNAMID with establishing a presence in
the area as well as confidence building patrols for locals
collecting water and firewood. "We've gone into a lot of areas
where we never had a presence before," he said.

EFFECTIVENESS OF RECONCILIATION EFFORTS QUESTIONED
--------------------------------------------- -----

5. (SBU) Tribal clashes in South Darfur are often settled by a
government-brokered reconciliation, but some observers are skeptical
that such deals provide lasting peace or solutions. Dr. Mahmoud
Adam Daoud, Lecturer at the University of Nyala, noted that such

KHARTOUM 00001745 002 OF 003


talks always take place among tribal elders based in the regional
capital of Nyala. "They spend time and money and sign documents" he
said, "but those who are actually doing the fighting are not at the
table." As a result, the root causes of the conflict are never
addressed, he said. Others were skeptical of the government's intent
to really reconcile differences between warring tribes.

6. (SBU) Among the most recent government-brokered reconciliation
agreements was one concluded between the Arab Beni Halba and the
Daju African tribe in early November, according to UNAMID Civil
Affairs Officer Katherine Reyes. Reyes noted that unlike previous
reconciliations, the government did not offer to fund compensation
arrangements, instead encouraging the parties to take on the
responsibility themselves. She also noted that while clashes
between the Fallata and Salamat tribes have subsided in recent
months, they were both being strongly encouraged by the government
to follow the path of the Beni Halba and Daju and to reconcile. But
the Fallata and Salamat were both heavily armed by the Khartoum
regime, making the situation much more difficult to resolve, she
said.

GOS RECRUITS ARAB MILITIA FOR ARMED FORCES
------------------------------------------

7. (SBU) SPLM Minister of Agriculture of South Darfur Omar
Abdelrahman told poloffs that over the past few months several
thousand new Janjaweed militiamen have been recruited to Central
Reserve Police and Border Intelligence Forces, and dispatched to
Khartoum for training. The recruits are drawn most notably from the
Mahamid of the Aballa (camel-herding) Rizeigat, he said, adding that
since announcement of the ICC indictment of President Bashir there
has been a complete turnaround from talking about disarmament of
Janjaweed to recruiting them into military and security service
ranks. The irony, he said, is that this recruitment is being carried
out in the name of Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration
(DDR). "The NCP tells us, 'You integrated southern militias into
the SPLA, we're just doing the same,'" he said. Abdelrahman also
claimed that approximately 2,000 Arab militiamen who were not
received by Sudanese military and paramilitary forces have sought to
join the ranks of the SPLA, and that SPLA leadership remains worried
about this prospect.

THOUGH SOME ARAB TRIBES TURNING HOSTILE
---------------------------------------

8. (SBU) UNDSS Officer Mulders noted that certain Arab tribes in
South Darfur have shown inclinations of turning to violent action
against the government. Back in August, a faction of Fallata
militiamen upset with floundering reconciliation efforts attacked a
police post near Tulus and threatened further action, he said. And
while the Beni Halba have apparently sorted out their differences
with the Daju, they are still seething at the death of some of its
members at the hands of GOS bombs on July 1. "There is still a lot
of tension between the Beni Halba and the government, though the
government has paid them blood money," he said. Mulders also
recently heard an unsubstantiated rumor that the Southern Rizeigat
were planning to form a militia to attack government forces moving
through their areas.

BANDITRY DECLINES WITH DEPLOYMENT OF GOS FORCES
--------------------------------------------- -

9. (SBU) UNDSS Officer Mulders reported that banditry on South
Darfur's main transit routes has decreased since the GOS has
deployed a company in Tortahan, southeast of Nyala. The Central
Reserve Police continues to provide protection for convoys of
private trucks, he said, often with considerable skill and mobility.
Alas, such protection is not free, as it turns out; Mulders
reported a recent convoy of over 100 trucks travelling from Bilal to
Ed Daien had to pay a fee of up to $50 per truck (directly to the
CRP). UNAMID Sector South Commander Gen. Eze told poloffs there was
significant GOS troop movement around Sharaya, but he was unsure
whether the troops were reinforcements or constituted a new unit.

CARJACKING DOWN DUE TO NEW SECURITY PROCEDURES
--------------------------------------------- -

10. (SBU) UNDSS Officer Mulders also noted that carjackings of
UNAMID and INGO vehicles within Nyala have decreased since UNAMID
instituted a two-car minimum for travel and boosted the use of its
fleet of over 70 mini-buses. "Not a single bus has been stolen," he
stated, noting that vehicles lacking four-wheel drive are
unappealing to potential carjackers who are either from rebel or
militia groups or sell them to rebels or militia who need vehicles

KHARTOUM 00001745 003 OF 003


that can be turned into "technicals" capable of carrying fighters to
battle across rough terrain. (Note: More often than not, the
vehicles wind up in the hands of the rebels, who are poorly funded
and lack the government's ability to purchase and ship large numbers
of vehicles into Darfur. End note.) In November, only five UNAMID
and INGO vehicles were carjacked in South Darfur, he said, and two
of those had been recovered. This compares to thirteen in October
and nine in September according to UNAMID statistics. Since the
beginning of the year, more than 60 vehicles have been lost to
carjacking in South Darfur, and "everybody's involved. Rebel
movements, militias, government forces and organized crime are all a
part of it," according to Mulders.

UNAMID STILL SEEN AS WEAK
-------------------------

11. (SBU) UNAMID Sector South Commander Brigadier General F.E. Eze
stated that while his force is facing chronic logistical problems,
it has succeeded in securing supply routes for humanitarian access
and instituted a series of confidence building patrols. But
according to Eze, Sector South patrols are often restricted by
Sudanese authorities who claim responsibility for certain areas. A
UNAMID poloff told Emboff in confidence that while there is need for
a mechanism to monitor violence in Darfur, it should be independent
from UNAMID. "UNAMID is hampered by its relationship with the GOS,"
he said, adding that its leadership remains quite cautious of
offending the GOS. "UNAMID never issues press releases, even when
we know the GOS is bombing villages around Darfur," he said.

12. (SBU) Dr. Salahedeen Mohamed, the NCP-designated Maqdoum
(Viceroy) of the Fur tribe, asserted that UNAMID has been "guarded"
and essentially contained by the Central Reserve Police and that it
could never constitute an effective peacekeeping force. To that
end, he hoped to see USG boots on the ground to establish security
in Darfur. "We want to see U.S. intervention as soon as possible,"
he said. Even though Dr. Salahedeen was chosen as a pro-regime
stooge, he has continued to distance himself from the NCP at least
since the Kalma massacre in Kalma camp of August 25, 2008.

13. (SBU) The one area where UNAMID has achieved relative success
is in Kalma Camp. UNDSS Officer Mulders reported there have been no
serious incidents reported in Kalma camp since the Bangladeshi FPU
instituted 24-hour patrols in early September. UNAMID Civil Affairs
Officer Katherine Reyes also reported that IDPs have told her there
have been no killings in Kalma camp since the 24-hour patrols began.


COMMENT
-------

14. (SBU) While UNAMID sources in South Darfur were generally
optimistic about decreasing levels of violence and insecurity,
Darfurians were discouraged and demoralized, and their perception of
UNAMID remains largely negative. Indeed, UNAMID's role in reducing
tribal violence in South Darfur is questionable, and its presence on
the ground deterred neither the November 19 rebel attack on a CRP
convoy nor the subsequent GOS bombings. The eventual deployment of
the Ethiopian, Egyptian and Tanzanian battalions to Sector South
could go a long way toward expanding UNAMID's capabilities on the
ground, but the problem is not just numbers, it will also require a
will to aggressively implement UNAMID's mandate on the part of its
leadership which has so far been lacking. The poloff's comments
about UNAMID's ability to monitor a ceasefire and call out the
government on violations are telling. There is no question that an
independent mechanism would be more effective, the problem will be
funding it and getting the GOS to approve. We will need to keep
consistent pressure on UNAMID and DPKO in New York for them to live
up to this aspect of its mandate.

FERNANDEZ

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