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Cablegate: Sudan: Ncp and Press Rhetoric Against Darfur Rehatting

VZCZCXRO5236
OO RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1981/01 2320804
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 200804Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4228
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001981

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/SPG/, AF/PD (A. JOHNSON, S. LAUTERBACH), IIP/G/AF,
RRU-AF, INR/R/MR
PARIS FOR ARS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KPAO OIIP PGOV PINR SU
SUBJECT: SUDAN: NCP AND PRESS RHETORIC AGAINST DARFUR REHATTING
INTENSIFIED BY MIDDLE EAST DEVELOPMENTS

REF: Khartoum 01843

1. SUMMARY: Over the past two weeks, Sudanese press reports
suggest that two lines of Arab-nationalist opinion in Sudan -
focused on the Lebanese and Darfur crises, respectively - are
tending to converge. A major link is provided by Omer al-Bashir
himself, who is both Sudan's president and current Chairman of the
Arab League. He claims that Zionist and American interests and
strategies, in various configurations, are behind both crises. And
Hizbollah and Nasrallah are increasingly held up as models for
Sudanese resistance to any threats to national sovereignty,
especially to "foreign intervention" in Darfur. END SUMMARY.

Dual Struggles, Lebanon and Darfur
-----------------------------------

2. For over a month, the Sudanese press has been marked by two
lines of gradually intensifying protest and critique, centered on
the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, on the one hand; on the other,
international pressure to accept UN peacekeepers in Darfur. In both
cases, NCP hardliners have taken the lead, with Bashir as the major
spokesman, and the NCP and affiliated organizations as platforms for
supporting statements and demonstrations. Apart from official
statements, a scattering of editorials appear on a daily basis,
expressing a strongly Arab-nationalist line on one or another of
these crises.

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With Some Connections...
------------------------

3. Until recently, the two lines of critique proceeded largely
independently. A few early editorials, however, noting the
perceived ineffectiveness of the UN peacekeepers in Lebanon,
reasoned that they would be equally useless in Darfur (Sudan Vision,
July 17). An even earlier op-ed by Dr. Al-Tayeb Zein Al-Abdin of
the Inter-Religious Council -- "Because of the U.S., No to UN
Troops" (Al-Sahafa, July 6) - spotted another link: because of a
perceived U.S. bias towards Israel, which he found unfair, he was
withdrawing his previous support for the U.S.-backed plan to bring
UN peacekeepers to Darfur.

Or more Organic Links
---------------------

4. In a National Workers Day speech last week, however, al-Bashir
suggested a more organic link between the two struggles, with the
U.S. as the common enemy. Bashir reiterated government opposition
to UN troops in Darfur, Sudan's support for the Palestinian cause,
and condemnation of U.S. support to Israel. In addition, however,
he was reported to consider "what is happening now in Darfur as an
extension of an American Zionist plan to apply the experiment of
Lebanon and Palestine in Sudan" (Sudan Tribune, Aug. 6).

Nasrallah and Hezbollah as Models
---------------------------------

5. A second speech at the Sudan Armed Forces 52nd Anniversary this
week Al-Bashir also implied similarities, at least, with respect to
the resistance struggles in Sudan and the Middle East:
"President Al-Bashir commended the steadfastness of Hezbullah under
the leadership of Nasrallah and hailed the struggle of the
Palestinian peoples, affirming Sudan's solidarity with Lebanon and
Palestine. President Al-Bashir hailed the Armed Forces on the
occasion of the Army Day, describing it as a symbol of the dignity
of the people and protector of Sudan." ("Al-Bashir reiterates
rejection of Sudan to entry of international troops to Darfur under
Chapter 6 and Chapter 7," SUNA, Aug. 15; also "Al-Bashir: We Will
Defeat the International Troops as Hassan Nasrallah Did with the
Israeli Army," Al-Sahafa).
6. In a visit this week to the Wadi Halfa area in the far north,
Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha reiterated these themes,
hailing Sudan's rejection of international troops and describing the
Sudanese people as "capable of miracles."
"We will prepare rockets to amputate the hands of whoever assaults
our country; we take Hizbullah as a model," he said (Alwan, Aug.
16).

And the U.S. the Common Enemy
-----------------------------

7. In this new conjuncture, the views of a right-wing, anti-Western
columnist such as Alfatih Ziada are sounding less unusual. "The UN
has become an arm of the U.S. State Department," he writes, and the
"military impotence and political bankruptcy" of the "conventional
Arab governments" is now clear. U.S. charges of Iranian backing to
Hezbollah, he argues, are as baseless as were Powell's accusations
against Iraq; events show the "falseness" of U.S. views "both in
Lebanon and Darfur" ("The American Game," Sudan Vision, Aug. 15).


KHARTOUM 00001981 002 OF 002


8. In his editorial of Aug. 16, Ziada continued to weave
connections. "The best lesson learned from Lebanon by the Arab
world and particularly Sudan," he argues, "is the unity of ranks
against foreign intervention." Despite their sectarian divisions,
the Lebanese united against Israeli invasion. In Sudan, however,
some "secular politicians" and "moderate Muslims" (such as the Umma
Party, "an out-of-wedlock baby of the West") voice support for
foreign intervention. And why does the U.S. call some armed groups
"terrorists," he wonders, "while Darfur rebels enjoy U.S. support?"

But Most Still Want the U.S. as a Friend
----------------------------------------

9. Despite this emerging discourse, pitting the Arab nation(s)
against the West, the press remains the mirror of a wide variety of
views. Alongside scathing attacks on the U.S. role in the Middle
East, one can find articles recognizing U.S.-Sudanese cooperation on
the DPA (e.g., "Sudan, USA Agree to Boost Darfur Peace," Sudan
Vision, Aug. 8), and calling for closer relations ("Al Sammani:
Sudan Aspires for Direct Positive Relations with the USA," (Sudan
Vision, Aug. 10). Some articles have reported CDA Hume's efforts to
work with Sudan, specifically for his meetings with Presidential
Advisor Al-Khalifa ("Moves in the Right Direction," The Citizen,
Aug. 9) and with President Al-Bashir ("Cameron Hume's Efforts: Will
they get Washington on the Right Track?" Al-Wihda, Aug. 14). Many
hope for improved relations, despite the crisis in the Middle East.


HUME

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