Cablegate: Darfur: Usg Can Set the Stage for Successful Un/Au

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1. (SBU) The United Nations and African Union have developed
a timetable for the Darfur political process that culminates
in negotiations between the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA)
non-signatories and the Sudanese Government in early October.
However, unrealistic expectations of the outcome of these
negotiations, enduring rivalries within the fractured rebel
movements, and inadequate representation of the movements'
armed wings in the peace process risk derailing the talks.
UN and AU officials in Khartoum emphasize that the focus of
the negotiations should be on addressing the reasonable
grievances of the DPA non-signatories and brokering an
agreement that will address the most pressing issue affecting
Darfur: security. While the negotiations are unlikely to
lead to a definitive resolution of the Darfur conflict, an
agreement that accounts for the core grievances of the DPA
non-signatories and leads to a sustainable cessation of
hostilities--guaranteed by the deployment of the UN/AU hybrid
peacekeeping force--would pave the way for reconciliation in
the long-term. See para. 11 for specific actions that the
USG can take to shore up the UN/AU peace process and lay the
foundation for a successful outcome from the negotiations.
End summary.

UN/AU's Fall Timeline

2. (SBU) UN and AU officials have outlined a plan for the
Darfur peace process for August and September, culminating in
the start of negotiations in early October. For the
remainder of August, the UN/AU will concentrate on finalizing
a date and venue for the talks. After UN Secretary General
Ban Ki Moon and AU Chairman Alpha Omar Konare issue the
invitations in early September, the UN/AU will begin to
"shuttle" between the Darfur rebel factions and the Sudanese
government to narrow positions on the key issues outlined in
the Arusha communique (power sharing, wealth sharing,
security arrangements, land, and humanitarian issues).
Simultaneously, the UN and AU will develop a precise agenda
for the negotiations, define a timeframe to underscore the
talks will not be open-ended, and articulate precise roles
for the international community and regional governments
(Chad, Libya, and Eritrea) in the negotiations.

Fractured Rebel Movements

3. (SBU) Without an initial effort, led by the UN and AU, to
consolidate some of the rebel factions and improve internal
communication between the political leaders and the military
commanders in the field, it is difficult to see how the UN
and AU will facilitate a common negotiating platform among
the rebels during September's "shuttle diplomacy"
phase--particularly among the armed factions that effect the
security situation. Since early 2006, reports from Darfur
indicate that the commanders of the armed movements--who,
with the exception of the Sudanese government, have the
greatest direct influence on the security environment in
Darfur--are frustrated with the region's political leaders
(Ref. A). Since May, the USG has advocated for an effort to
bring more cohesion among the rebel factions as a
precondition for successful negotiations. Participants at an
AU-sponsored conference in late June--which included
representatives from the National Congress Party (NCP), the
Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), the Sudan
Liberation Movement (SLM), the AU, the UN, the U.S., the UK,
the Netherlands, and Canada--reiterated the necessity of
repairing the breech between the political and military wings
of the rebel movements (Ref. B). Until recently, Pekka

KHARTOUM 00001337 002.2 OF 004

Haavisto, the Senior Advisor to UN Special Envoy Jan
Eliasson, and Sam Ibok, AU co-chair of the Joint Mediation
Support Team (JMST), identified the rift between the rebels'
political leadership and the commanders in the field as an
immediate priority (Ref. C).

4. (SBU) During an August 19 briefing for Western diplomats
in Khartoum, Haavisto acknowledged rebel leaders contend that
October negotiations are unfeasible and that they need time
(and assistance) to foster unity and better internal
organization within the movements. Reversing his previous
stance, however, Haavisto said that "we should not give them
the luxury of time--they should come (to the negotiations) as
they are." By contrast, former SLM humanitarian coordinator
Suleiman Jamous, a respected and unifying figure for many of
the rebel factions, warned in a recent media interview that a
lack of organization within the movements prior to
negotiations could lead to further factionalism. "It is
better to work towards unity for the SLA at least before
ending the peace talks with any sort of agreement," Jamous
told Reuters in late July.

--------------------------------------------- ---
Rift Hinders Development of Negotiating Platform
--------------------------------------------- ---

5. (SBU) During an August 7 briefing in Khartoum, Eliasson
applauded the collegiality of the various factions throughout
the Arusha discussions (Ref. D): "They are all cousins and
schoolmates and were all one group comfortable together." UN
and AU officials in Khartoum admit, however, that the
discussions were general and that the commanders around
Abdullah Yehia--the only formidable armed faction
represented--did not participate, in protest of Jamous'
continued detention. First-hand accounts of the Arusha
meeting indicate that the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)
and the Sudan Federal Democratic Alliance (SFDA) led by Ahmed
Ibrahim Diraige largely drove the agenda, with mixed buy-in
from participants like Abdullah Yehia--who commands the
largest, best-armed faction in Darfur. While JEM and the
SFDA remain the most sophisticated and well-prepared among
the factions, it is less clear that they can change the
security dynamic on the ground. While Yehia and others may
accede to general principles, such as those presented in the
Arusha communique, such acquiescence will not be sustainable
in the long-term without addressing the fundamental
structural problems between the political and military wings
of the movements. Recent reports, corroborated by Ibok,
indicate that even the traditionally cohesive JEM is on the
verge of splintering. Bahar Idriss Abu Gharda--who led the
JEM delegation at Arusha--is now threatening to split from
JEM leader Khalil Ibrahim and join a powerful JEM commander
to form a new movement.

6. (SBU) While a positive first step, Ibok (please strictly
protect) acknowledged in an August 21 conversation with
Poloff that the most contentious issues were not included in
the Arusha communique: self-determination and autonomy for
Darfur outside the timeline set by the Comprehensive Peace
Agreement (CPA) and retention of forces rather than
re-integration into the national military. According to
Ibok, the movements do not consider Darfur as bound by the
CPA or the National Interim Constitution and have little
understanding that the end state of the current negotiations
are only valid until 2009. In addition, persisting rivalries
among the rebels will cripple discussions on power sharing.

IDPs, Civil Society Share Goal of Security

7. (SBU) The UN and AU continue to seek to involve civil
society and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the
negotiating process. A common theme among these groups is
the need for stability and freedom of movement (Ref. E). Yet
the situation on the ground remains complex, and the
discussion lacks any comprehensive analysis. Because IDPs
perceive many traditional leaders as ineffectual, NGOs in the
camps have organized groups of "new sheikhs" to coordinate
assistance and provide organization (Ref. F), making it
difficult to determine who represents which constituency.
The Darfur Darfur Dialogue and Consultation (DDDC) has
completed a first round of consultations with IDPs in Darfur;

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the preliminary findings are being used to inform the UN/AU
strategy for the negotiating process. UN civil affairs
efforts to produce "IDP profiles" also remain preliminary
(Ref. F). While many Darfur watchers note the absence of
independent civil society organizations in the region,
initiatives to involve civil society in a peace process
abound, with little linkage to political developments at the
national and international level (Ref. G). During interviews
with Emboff in late July, IDPs listed security, individual
compensation, and reconstruction and development as their
priorities, in descending order of importance (Ref. F). In
recent conversations with Poloff, both a senior AU official
and a mid-level UN official in Khartoum underscored that the
upcoming negotiations must focus on improving the security
environment, which would then lay the foundation for
addressing IDPs and civil society's other concerns.

Abdulwahid's Continued Obstruction

8. (SBU) SLM leader Abdulwahid al Nur has been adept at
capitalizing on the complex sentiments of the IDP camps. In
discussions with the UN and AU, Abdulwahid has proposed a
series of meetings of his SLM faction that conflict with the
UN/AU timeline. According to a UN official in El Fasher,
Abdulwahid is "bargaining with the misery of the IDPs" (Ref.
H). His support, however, may be more tenuous than is
generally perceived. During his mid-August visit to Sudan,
Eliasson traveled to several IDP camps to highlight the
consequences of Abdulwahid's continued absence from the UN/AU
political process. "Eliasson told them that if Abdulwahid is
not at the talks, the camps' voices will not be heard," Ibok
told Poloff on August 21. According to a UN official, a
panicked Abdulwahid called Eliasson a day after his visit to
the camps and for the first time expressed an interest in
participating in a UN/AU-sponsored meeting. He later
rescinded this offer, and the UN/AU plan to continue attemps
to cut into Abdulwahid's base. During his August 21-29 visit
to Sudan, AU Special Envoy Salim Ahmed Salim plans to visit
Zalingei, the locus of Abdulwahid' support, and deliver a
message similar to Eliasson's. The UN and AU have also
encouraged Diraige and SLM faction leader Ahmed Abdulshafie
to conduct their own outreach in the camps.

9. (SBU) The UN/AU continue to call on the international
community to "turn up" the pressure on Abdulwahid, a request
they have made for several months without proposing specific
actions (Ref. C). However, on August 18, a senior AU
official provided Poloff with the most strident call yet: If
Abdulwahid does not indicate his intention to attend the
October negotiations, France should "kick him out," and he
should not be allowed to seek refuge elsewhere in Europe.

Effective Contact Group Essential

10. (SBU) While the UN and AU continue to consult the
international community on the road ahead, foreign
governments' most important role will be in exerting leverage
on the parties to compromise once negotiations begin,
according to representatives from both organizations. Recent
discussions with UN and AU officials in Khartoum underscore
the necessity of an effective contact group that can target
pressure on both the rebels and the Sudanese government to
forge a peace agreement. While the "Tripoli Format" (Chad,
Egypt, Eritrea, Libya, China, France, Russia, UK, U.S.,
Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, EU, and the Arab League)
remains too unwieldy to be effective, a sub-group composed of
members with leverage on the rebels, the Sudanese government,
and regional actors could support the UN/AU mediators and
back-brief the larger group throughout the negotiations. The
UN and AU concede that Chad, Libya, and Eritrea will play an
influential role in the negotiating process. A senior AU
official suggested, however, that a contact group composed of
the U.S., EU, France, and China might balance this influence.
The U.S. is seen by most rebel groups and much of the
international community as the guarantor of a final agreement
(Ref. B), while the EU and France could exert necessary
leverage on regional actors and rebel leaders with ties to
Europe, such as Abdulwahid. Given Beijing's oft-repeated
emphasis on a political process to complement the UN/AU

KHARTOUM 00001337 004.2 OF 004

hybrid, China could be a moderating influence on the Sudanese
government. The senior AU official underlined the importance
of U.S. leadership in forming such a contact group, noting
the helpful role that S/E Natsios played during the Tripoli
II summit in rallying countries behind the UN and AU.

USG Support for the Political Process

11. (SBU) The USG can take several specific actions in the
near future to shore-up the UN/AU peace process and lay the
strongest foundation possible for the negotiations:

-- Publicly outline realistic expectations for the outcome of
the negotiations. A U.S. statement--preferably with the
explicit backing of several international partners--should
call for an agreement that addresses the reasonable
grievances of the DPA non-signatories and includes a
cessation of hostilities. In conjunction with the deployment
of an effective UN/AU hybrid peace-keeping force, such an
agreement would pave the way for a stable Darfur and provide
an enabling environment for reconciliation, reconstruction,
and development.

-- Make a declaration of support for the CPA and its interim
arrangements, with explicit reference to their relevance for
Darfur. Such a declaration would highlight our view that the
CPA is the way forward for the whole of Sudan and would
strengthen the UN/AU's hand with the rebel groups.

-- Encourage the UN and AU to develop a strategy for
repairing the rift between the political and military
elements of the rebel movements. Underscore that the
development of rebel negotiating positions--including the
input of armed factions with direct influence on the security
environment--is predicated on greater cohesion and
organization within the rebel factions.

-- In consultation with the UN, AU, and European partners,
develop a set of triggers for action against rebel groups
that obstruct the peace process. While the UN/AU have called
for triggers in the past (Ref. C), we must bring specificity
to this threat in order to make it credible. The most
obvious benchmark would be participation in the October

-- Build support among the governments of the "Tripoli
Format" for an effective sub-group to target leverage on the
rebel movements, the Sudanese government, and the regional
actors during the negotiations and to monitor the
implementation of the agreement.

12. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.

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