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Cablegate: Sudanese Rebels Call the Shots in Chadian Town Of

VZCZCXRO4495
RR RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHNJ #1249/01 2921307
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191307Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4480
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHGI/AMEMBASSY BANGUI 1243
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0853
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0909

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 NDJAMENA 001249

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

PARIS AND LONDON FOR AFRICA WATCHERS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PREF PGOV SU CD
SUBJECT: SUDANESE REBELS CALL THE SHOTS IN CHADIAN TOWN OF
BAHAI

REF: NDJAMENA 1215

NDJAMENA 00001249 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary: The northeastern Chadian town of Bahai
was revealed to be a JEM-controlled stronghold following the
clash between the National Redemption Front (NRF) and
Sudanese Government forces October 7-8. Following that
battle, numerous Sudanese soldiers remain in Chadian custody
and the Government of Chad claims that its interest in the
matter is purely "humanitarian." Observers have commented on
what appears to be a close relationship between Chadian
military and civil authorities and JEM commanders in Bahai
and Iriba. JEM troops were reported to be moving south,
possibly to reinforce GOC forces against possible Chadian
rebel forays. End summary.

2. (SBU) Reftel reported on the October 7-8 clash between
the NRF and the Government of Sudan forces (SAF) in Kariari,
near the northeastern town of Bahai. Based on subsequent
conversations with international relief workers who were
either in Bahai during the clash or had staff members in the
region, it appears that the warring parties remained on the
Sudanese side of the border, and did not enter Chadian
territory. The refugee camps in the Bahai region were not
affected directly by the fighting, but camp members were
aware of the clashes and a number of them left the camps to
observe the fighting from a nearby wadi (seasonal
watercourse). It is clear, however, that the aftermath of
the fight was very much in Chadian territory with numerous
Sudanese soldiers either deserting into Chad or being taken
there by JEM forces.

3. (SBU) All reports point to a striking absence of Chadian
local authorities in Bahai and agree that the JEM was
effectively in control before and after the battle.
International Rescue Committee Chad Director informed EmbOffs
that neither the Prefet nor the Gendarme commander were in
Bahai during the October 7-8 clash. The Sous-Prefet was in
town, but appeared to be collaborating with the JEM
commanders (he in fact warned the IRC shortly before the
battle began that there would be a clash). The IRC Director
was in direct contact with JEM commanders who brought JEM and
Sudanese army soldiers into the IRC-assisted hospital in
Bahai for treatment following the clash. (According to the
International Federation of the Red Cross there were 88
wounded in Bahai -- a mix of JEM and Sudanese soldiers). JEM
commanders were described as respectful to humanitarian
workers. The IRC Director informed Emboffs that a Chadian
army battalion arrived in Bahai some three days after the
clash, following a forced march from the town of Fada. His
impression was that the there was quite a cooperative
relationship between the arriving Chadian army and the JEM
soldiers. However, in the ensuing days, the JEM presence
diminished, and it was believed that JEM soldiers were
heading south.

4. (SBU) On October 9, PolOff visited approximately 60 SAF
members housed in the Iriba prison who had been handed over
to the Chadian authorities by the JEM/National Redemption
Front. According to their Commander (a member of the 310th
squadron), up to 500 SAF forces may have been killed in the
fighting October 7-8 in Bahai. The International Federation
of the Red Cross (IFRC) representative informed Emboff that,
as of October 11, there were 87 Sudanese soldiers in Iriba,
of which 19 were wounded. The IFRC representative described
the situation in Iriba as a "breakdown in the chain of
command" with JEM soldiers fully integrated into the Chadian
army. IFRC was prepared to take the Sudanese soldiers home,
but did not want to simply escort them to the Sudanese side
of the border -- a flight to Khartoum would be preferable.
In the meantime, their status was not well defined. Possibly
they were deserters, possibly they had been taken by the JEM
by force.

5. (SBU) At the same time, the Chadian Newspaper "Le
Progress" (aligned with the Government) reported that 103
Sudanese soldiers, including three officers, had crossed the
border "seeking refuge" on the Chadian side of the border.
According to a Chadian Government communiqu, the clash
between Sudanese rebels and the Government of Sudan was of no
concern to Chad; while it was studying (in conjunction with
the Government of Sudan) the question of the repatriation of
the Sudanese forces, Chad's involvement in the matter was
purely humanitarian in nature.

COMMENT
-------

NDJAMENA 00001249 002.2 OF 002


6. (SBU) The JEM control of Bahai calls into question the
GOC's ability and/or desire to exert its civil and military
authority over the border region. With the approach of the
dry season, President Deby may find it in his interest to
have the JEM providing a buffer zone between the interior
and Chadian rebels at the frontier.
TAMLYN

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