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Cablegate: S/E Natsios Meets with South Darfur's Warring Arab

VZCZCXRO6646
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHROV
RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #1548/01 2771323
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 041323Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8700
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI IMMEDIATE 0241
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA IMMEDIATE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KHARTOUM 001548

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 SOUTH DARFUR'S WARRING ARAB
TRIBES

KHARTOUM 00001548 001.2 OF 003


-------
Summary
-------

1. (SBU) In a visit to South Darfur, S/E Natsios met with
representatives of two warring Arab tribes, the Turjum and
the Rizeigat, to explore the antecedents to their
internal-tribal conflict, discuss the prospects of
reconciliation, and encourage a cessation of hostilities and
support for the deployment of the UN-AU Mission in Darfur
(UNAMID). The Turjum-Rizeigat conflict has resulted in the
highest death toll from inter-Arab fighting in Darfur,
according to the UN. Over 500 people have died in this
fighting in 2007, the worse violence in Darfur this year.
The Rizeigat attributed the violence to a competition over
resources and said that only development programs and the
provision of basic services to the neglected Arab tribes
could stabilize the troubled region. The Turjum, by
contrast, blamed the Rizeigat for mounting an "ethnic
cleansing" campaign against them and the Fur, with direct
support from the Sudanese military and intelligence services.
While the Turjum were more equivocal in their support for
UNAMID than the Rizeigat, representatives of both groups
pledged their support for a cease-fire if the other tribes
respected it. End summary.

--------------------------------------------- ---------
Rizeigat: Murders Spark Violence Over Scarce Resources
--------------------------------------------- ---------

2. (SBU) Meeting with S/E Natsios in Nyala, South Darfur, on
September 29, Northern Rizeigat leaders, representing the
region's largest Arab group, explained that fighting had
erupted with the rival Turjum tribe in 2005, after the Turjum
murdered six Rizeigat they accused of robbery. The Sudanese
Government had intervened to negotiate the payment of "dia"
(blood money) to the Rizeigat. The Turjum had yet to pay
despite a subsequent written agreement that the Rizeigat
alleged had not been distributed at the "grassroots" level to
prevent the nomads from continuing the fighting.
Representatives of the two tribes had met again in
mid-September and now planned to hold a reconciliation
conference after the end of Ramadan, according to the
Rizeigat.

3. (SBU) The Rizeigat admitted that they had begun to settle
new lands in order to secure access to basic services, like
education. "We have a 99 percent illiteracy rate," said one
Rizeigat representative. They attributed the conflict with
the Turjum to tensions over limited resources and a
break-down in traditional conflict resolution methods,
acknowledging that past violence had occurred only between
the Rizeigat and the Fur or the Zaghawa. "We're not proud of
that," said the group's spokesman, "but it is true that as
Rizeigat we have come into conflict with other tribes the
most." The Rizeigat noted that their dispute with the Turjum
was just one of many ongoing conflicts between them and the
Habaniya, Salamat, and Falata tribes. A representative of
the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) who facilitated the meeting
explained, however, that the highest death toll from
inter-Arab fighting resulted from the Turjum-Rizeigat
conflict. Northern Rizeigat have traditionally had no land
of their own, a grievance that encouraged their entry into
the ranks of the Janjaweed. At the same time, they are both
poor and proud, describing themselves as the "second largest
Sudanese tribe after the Dinka."

-----------------------------
Development Requires Security
-----------------------------

4. (SBU) S/E Natsios emphasized that development could only
occur within the context of security and asked if the
Rizeigat would support a cessation of hostilities as part of
the UN/AU-led Darfur peace process. The tribe's
representatives were unanimous in their support for an end to
the violence. "Immediately we will stop fighting and
implement any resolutions that will bring peace," said the
group's spokesman, adding that tribal leaders had agreed
"last night" that continued fighting was "shameful." He also
explained that the Rizeigat were working to compose a
delegation to participate in UN/AU-brokered negotiations,
and, unlike the fractured African tribes, they would be able

KHARTOUM 00001548 002.2 OF 003


to elect representatives to attend the Libya talks scheduled
to begin at the end of October.

5. (SBU) Echoing the calls of Darfur's African tribes--many
of whom see the USG as the guarantor of any peace
agreement--the Rizeigat representatives asked for direct U.S.
assistance to resolve the conflict. They welcomed the
opportunity for dialogue with the U.S., complaining that the
international community was "biased" and had ignored the
grievances of Darfur's Arab tribes. "The U.S. can solve any
problem," said one man. "As the superpower, it must be fair
in its treatment of all groups."

6. (SBU) The U.S. could not solve Sudan's problems, which
were the responsibility of the Sudanese people, said S/E
Natsios. The U.S. could, however, support the peace process
and would be generous with reconstruction and development
programs only after a sustainable peace agreement was
achieved. CDA Fernandez stated that all of Darfur's tribes
were marginalized and that the U.S. wanted a "prosperous
future" for all of the region's people. He said that this
meeting was the beginning of dialogue with the Arabs, which
he hoped to continue. He urged them to work toward a return
to harmony with the Fur so that the Rizeigat "did not become
the scapegoat" for the Sudanese Government.

------------------------------------------
Turjum: Rizeigat "Cleansing" To Seize Land
------------------------------------------

7. (SBU) In a separate meeting, Turjum representatives
characterized their conflict with the Rizeigat as a defensive
struggle to maintain control of their traditional lands,
which the Sudanese Government was attempting to give to the
Rizeigat as compensation for their attacks on the Fur since
2003. The Rizeigat had begun attacking the Turjum in early
2007 with the explicit support of the Government. The Turjum
claimed that they had found Government-issued documents on
Rizeigat fighters identifying them as part of the Sudanese
military and border intelligence units. One Turjum man
explained that the Rizeigat had launched the attacks in
January "in many Turjum areas, at the same time, on the same
day." Other representatives said that the Rizeigat wanted to
"ethnically cleanse" the region of the Fur and the Turjum,
while the Turjum had protected the Fur. One man asserted
that there had been only a single attack against the Fur in a
Turjum area, which members of the Mahamid tribe had
perpetrated. (Note: This statement seems to indicate a case
of collective amnesia by the Turjum. End note.) S/E Natsios
pressed the Turjum to provide direct evidence of the
Rizeigat's collusion with the Sudanese Government, which they
were unable to do.

--------------------------------------
Government Favors Turjum Over Rizeigat
--------------------------------------

8. (SBU) Responding to a question from CDA Fernandez, the
Turjum acknowledged that they had supported the Sudanese
Government in its campaign against the African-dominated
rebel forces in Darfur but claimed that the "Rizeigat were
more favored by the Government." When then-South Darfur
Governor Al Hajj Attal Manaan had met with representatives of
the two tribes in January, he had said nothing while Rizeigat
leaders asserted ownership of the Fur lands they had seized
and told the Turjum to leave. In late February, Manaan had
brokered a deal for the Rizeigat to leave Turjum lands for
two years, at which point the Government would re-examine the
situation. The Rizeigat, however, attacked the Turjum the
following day, and the Government then pledged to separate
the tribes with a military force. Instead, it rehabilitated
three Rizeigat villages in a Turjum-controlled area. The
Turjum have continued to run afoul of the Government, and the
National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) arrested
their Nazir (traditional leader) in recent weeks, a Nazir who
the Government had appointed and who had been loyal to the
National Congress Party (NCP). One Turjum representative
reported that the police had 500 open cases on Rizeigat
tribesmen who had committed crimes against the Turjum but
that they were not pursuing these cases.

------------------------
Support for UNAMID Mixed

KHARTOUM 00001548 003.2 OF 003


------------------------

9. (SBU) A Turjum woman said that the humanitarian situation
had declined in recent months, with the women and children
assembling in the towns and the men preparing to fight. The
Turjum noted that they had received emergency help from Fur
IDPs who had shared what little they had had. The woman
asserted that UNAMID has "a role in protecting us" and that
the Turjum would welcome its deployment. When S/E Natsios
asked if the men of the tribe supported UNAMID as well, the
other representatives were equivocal. However, they were
unanimous in their support for a cessation of hostilities,
which they said could begin "before tomorrow" if the other
tribes also respected it.

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

10. (SBU) Both the Abballa (camel herding) Rizeigat and the
Turjum participated in violent campaigns orchestrated by
Khartoum in 2003-2005 against "disloyal" African tribes in
Darfur like the Fur. Now both are alienated by the regime's
broken promises, with the far less numerous Turjum feeling
particularly threatened by Darfur's shifting ethnic politics
and Khartoum's murderous policy of divide and rule. In
Darfur today, even former Janjaweed are betrayed by the
regime. End comment.

11. (U) S/E Natsios cleared this message.

12. (U) Tripoli minimize considered.
FERNANDEZ

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