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Cablegate: Minor Demonstrations at Embassy Khartoum Related to Israeli

VZCZCXRO6810
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHGI RUEHKUK RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1842/01 3631444
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 281444Z DEC 08 ZDK CTG NUMEROUS SVCS
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2610
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001842

DEPT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON, AF/SPG, AF/E, AF/PDPA
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: MINOR DEMONSTRATIONS AT EMBASSY KHARTOUM RELATED TO ISRAELI
AIR STRIKES IN GAZA

KHARTOUM 00001842 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: On December 27-28, several waves of demonstrators
gathered outside the Embassy Khartoum Chancery to exhibit solidarity
with the cause of Palestinians following Israeli air strikes in
Gaza. The demonstrations remained peaceful but were marked by
anti-American slogans including "Down, Down, USA!" and the waving of
shoes in the air, in apparent reference to the Iraqi journalist who
threw his shoes at President Bush. Throughout the demonstrations,
additional Sudanese police responded to ensure the safety of the
Chancery building and coordinate with the Embassy's local guard
force. End Summary.

2. (SBU) On December 27 at around 18:00, approximately 100
protestors gathered outside the north entrance of the Embassy
Khartoum Chancery for a show of solidarity with Palestinians in
Gaza. The proceedings were peaceful and lasted approximately 20
minutes. The Embassy was closed at the time, and the group did not
attempt to deliver a petition or otherwise make contact with Embassy
officials. Additional Sudanese police responded to ensure the safety
of the Chancery building and to coordinate with the Embassy's local
guard force.

3. (SBU) About an hour after the departure of the demonstrators, the
RSO received a call from the Sudanese National Police informing him
that a larger demonstration was expected to occur at the Chancery
during the afternoon of December 28. The police indicated that the
demonstration would be peaceful, and demonstrators would be escorted
by a large number of police officers. As a precaution, the Embassy
moved its vehicle fleet away from the front of the Chancery to the
General Services Office (GSO) Compound the morning of December 28
and temporarily relocated motor pool operations to the off-site GSO
warehouse.

4. (SBU) Beginning at around noon on December 28, several waves of
demonstrators passed by the Embassy's north entrance. The first
group consisted of approximately 150 women from the Islamic Students
Union and passed peacefully. A second group of approximately 200 men
passed shortly thereafter, chanting slogans of "Down, Down, USA!"
and "Down, Down, Israel!" while waving their shoes in the air, in
apparent reference to the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at
President Bush on December 14. Throughout this time, the Chancery
remained well-protected by a large truck-full of riot police, 15
diplomatic police and 10 Khartoum State police.

5. (SBU) A third demonstration by students from the Faculty of
Radiology at Sudan University of Science and Technology also came to
the Chancery with students shouting anti-American slogans such as
"The CIA can't rule us." They had an Arabic language petition that
the RSO accepted on behalf of the Mission. The translated text was
as follows: "We, students of Sudan University, bear you absolute
responsibility for the ongoing carnage in Gaza since you and the
Jews are from the same origin. Rights will be restored while
injustice and its state will be diminished forever. The battle that
our predecessors have started in Iraq and Gaza will continue. You
will see black days... and God is Great / Pride for God and his
Prophet and Islam / Freedom for Palestine." Later, another group of
approximately 30 Sudan University students demonstrated in front of
the Southern entrance of the Embassy, remaining for about 10 minutes
before departing peacefully. They chanted in Arabic and then "Down,
Down, USA" in English.

6. (SBU) The demonstrations appear to be related to a larger
gathering that includes representatives from civil society, trade
unions and other organizations. The United Nations Department of
Safety and Security (UNDSS), citing media and other sources,
indicated that the "National Communities Society" may have had a
hand in organizing one demonstration on December 28, reportedly at
the departure terminal of Khartoum Airport. From there the group was
expected to march on Khartoum's major thoroughfare -- Africa Road --
to the Afra Shopping Mall (on the other side of town from the
Embassy). The HAC commissioner and other prominent speakers were
expected to address the rally. All of the groups who demonstrated at
the US Embassy also reportedly went to the Egyptian Embassy nearby.
They were reportedly stopped en-route to the State Assembly by
police and then put in buses and taken to the Africa Road location.
It appears that UN and UK offices were not targeted in any
demonstrations today.

7. (SBU) The protests coincide with official statements from the GOS
as well as various political parties and civil society organizations
condemning Israeli air attacks in Gaza, according to press reports.
The Sudanese Government issued a statement on December 27 condemning
the air attacks and urging Israel immediately to stop its
"aggression," and on December 28 several Sudanese dailies carried
quotes from President Bashir calling for a united Arab position

KHARTOUM 00001842 002.4 OF 002


against Israel. Bashir also characterized the "genocide" against
Palestinians as part of a plot against the Arab world, stating that
"what is going on represents a plot against the Arab peoples and has
been proved through acts of aggression on Palestine, Iraq, Somalia
and Sudan."

8. (SBU) The Foreign Relations Secretariat of the ruling National
Congress Party (NCP) also issued a statement denouncing Israeli
"barbarous and brutal military machinery against innocent unarmed
civilians." It accused the international community of standing idly
by while the attacks took place, stating that "Darfur and the ICC
are concrete evidence of international hypocrisy and double
standards." It called on the Arab and Islamic world and its leaders
to stand "stand decisively and strongly to halt Israeli raids" and
to provide them with material and moral support.

9. (SBU) Comment: The protests to date have been kept in check by
the GOS, which in the past has organized such demonstrations itself.
It is quite possible that the GOS (or organizations that the GOS
supports) had a hand in organizing some of today's protests in
Khartoum, although it is worth noting that even without such support
there is an abundance of popular support here for both Palestine and
Hamas. To date, the demonstrations have remained peaceful and
focused on the cause of Palestinian solidarity (rather than the
pending ICC case against President Bashir). Post will continue to
monitor the situation and provide updates as necessary.

ASQUINO

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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