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Cablegate: S/E Natsios Meets with Governor of South Darfur

VZCZCXRO4982
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1539/01 2760653
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 030653Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8683
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001539

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, AF/SPG, AND AF/SE
NSC FOR PITTMAN AND HUDSON
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV KPKO UN AU SU
SUBJECT: S/E NATSIOS MEETS WITH GOVERNOR OF SOUTH DARFUR


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Governor Warns of Focus on Tribal Divisions
-------------------------------------------

1. (SBU) Meeting with S/E Natsios in Nyala on September 30,
South Darfur Governor Ali Mahmoud explained that the current
conflict had exacerbated tribal divisions. He criticized the
peace process for re-inforcing these divisions and warned
that if the parties to the conflict participated in
negotiations along ethnic lines, tribal-based political
parties would emerge and further undermine the region's
stability. Nonetheless emphasizing the importance of a
political solution to the Darfur conflict, Mahmoud said he
was optimistic about the UN/AU peace talks scheduled to begin
October 27 in Libya. He asked that the U.S. pressure the
Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) non-signatories to attend the
negotiations. S/E Natsios reported that he had just returned
from Zalingei, where he had pressed the Fur to participate in
the talks.

2. (SBU) Mahmoud said that his own personal narrative--one
Fur grandmother and one Zaghawa grandmother, in addition to
his Taisha tribal Arab roots--illustrated the traditional
ethnic mingling in Darfur. Rather than concentrating on
tribal affiliations, the focus should be on inter-tribal
dialogue, he suggested, noting that he was making progress in
"breaking down barriers" through recent reconciliation
conferences between the feuding Falata, Habaniya, and Salamat
tribes. Mahmoud said that the Sudanese Government planned a
broader reconciliation conference in Darfur near the end of
October.

---------------------------------------
Call for Reconstruction and Development
---------------------------------------

3. (SBU) Noting that he had been the negotiator for the
economic aspects of the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement (ESPA),
Mahmoud underscored the importance of reconstruction and
development in Darfur to underpin a peace agreement. He
thanked the U.S. for its humanitarian assistance programs in
Darfur and claimed that food aid to the IDPs was "stable" and
"not a critical situation." However, he said that Sudan
still needed support from the international community to
provide education, social services, health, and housing
because of the Government's lack of capacity. Without any
sense of irony, he noted that Sudan had no money to rebuild
people's houses in Darfur and asked for American help.
Mahmoud alleged that there had been a "spontaneous and
voluntary" return of many IDPs to their homes, and they now
required basic services.

----------------------------------
U.S. Seeks Just, Sustainable Peace
----------------------------------

4. (SBU) S/E Natsios recalled his first visit to Darfur in
1990 near the end of the previous Fur-Arab war and said that
the U.S. sought a just settlement to the current crisis to
avoid future conflicts. The U.S. was looking forward to the
Libya talks, where the critical issue would be a cessation of
hostilities, said S/E Natsios. He urged Mahmoud--as an
experienced negotiator--to use his influence to mitigate
tribal violence in his state and asked that the police ensure
security for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the
people of South Darfur, which has been hindered by frequent
car-jackings of NGO vehicles. S/E Natsios also expressed
concern that some groups opposed the UN-AU Mission in Darfur
(UNAMID) and requested the governor's help in convincing the
hold-outs that UNAMID was a neutral force that would bring
stability.

--------------------------------------------- ------
Rare Moment of Opportunity for U.S.-Sudan Relations
--------------------------------------------- ------

5. (SBU) CDA Fernandez said that the current period offered
the potential for an improvement in the U.S.-Sudan bilateral
relationship. Sudan could create a "positive environment"
for this improvement by facilitating humanitarian access and
the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1769.
Obstruction of these issues, however, would be a "missed
opportunity" and lead to a decline in the relationship,
according to the CDA.

6. (SBU) Mahmoud invited S/E Natsios and CDA Fernandez to a
lavish Ramadan iftar for several hundred guests. Natsios

KHARTOUM 00001539 002 OF 002


noted in his remarks that peace agreements like the
Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and the DPA need to be
fully implemented and refugees and IDPs able to return home
if we are really to attain peace in Darfur. He added that
the U.S. is willing to be generous in rebuilding Darfur but
only if there is peace and security and a political
settlement. Mahmoud responded that Sudan truly wants a
better relationship with the U.S. The Government is sincere
in wanting to implement UNSCR 1769 but asks the U.S. to
pressure the rebels at least as much as the Khartoum regime.

-------
Comment
-------

7. (SBU) A Darfur native but newcomer to politics in his
region, Mahmoud represents a qualitative improvement over his
predecessor. Whether his remarks represent anything more
than a cosmetic "charm offensive" by the regime's more
polished figures will be borne out by the facts on the ground
on issues like UNAMID and a cease-fire. End comment.

8. (U) S/E Natsios cleared this message.
FERNANDEZ

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