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Cablegate: Media Reaction to "Plan B" for Sudan

VZCZCXRO6377
RR RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #2720 3261209
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 221209Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5315
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 002720

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/SPG, AF/PD, IIP/G/AF, AND RRU-AF

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO OIIP PREL PGOV PINR PHUM SU
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION TO "PLAN B" FOR SUDAN


1. Several Sudanese newspapers carried stories about Special Envoy
for Sudan Andrew Natsios' November 20 press briefing in which he
referred to a "Plan B" for Sudan. Some included the entire
briefing. There were only two editorials about Darfur and "Plan B,"
although we would expect there to be more reflection on this issue
in the coming days.

2. The independent Arabic daily "Al-Ayaam" published an editorial
November 22 under the headline, "Race with time in Darfur, Part I,"
by well-regarded Editor-in-chief Mahgoub Mohammed Salih. Salih
reviewed the recent chronology of events, including the UN-AU-GOS
meeting in Addis Ababa, the Tripoli mini-summit, and Special Envoy
for Sudan Andrew Natsios' statements to the Brookings Institute as
well as his State Department press briefing in which he referred to
a "Plan B" for Sudan. The final weeks of 2006 are going to be a
"critical time" for Darfur, Salih opined. Salih described the
situation in Darfur as "complicated," because of the many
initiatives on the table, and he further warned that it may be
difficult to escape from the "dark tunnel" of Darfur. Salih was
pessimistic about the resolution of the crisis, stating that there
seems to be "no light at the end of the tunnel."

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3. The independent English daily "The Citizen" published an
editorial November 22 entitled, "Minawi getting fed up, Natsios
threatens Plan B." The editorial refers to Natsios' press briefing,
saying that Natsios "noted that there are people in the government
who believe a military solution is the best approach to the Darfur
crisis. That is such a gross understatement that we are wondering
whether Natsios has the whole historical picture of the Darfur
crisis in mind and really knows what is going on in Sudan. Mr.
Natsios, please reflect on the Colin Powell declaration when he
visited Darfur, look at what has been going on in Darfur up to now
and think again about what you have just said. With the focus of
attacks being civilians, a military solution means nothing less than
genocide." Although "The Citizen" did not speculate what "Plan B"
might entail, "we have not forgotten [British Prime Minister]
Blair's talk about a 'Coalition of the Willing' that would confront
both Khartoum and the UN with a fait accompli in Darfur, meaning
invasion from Chad and Central African Republic, both of which are
building their own cases against Khartoum. It is better to be wise
and careful than regretting folly when it's too late. That message
is for NCP [Sudan's ruling National Congress Party]."

HUME

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