Cablegate: Addressing Abyei

DE RUEHKH #1862/01 3320735
P 280735Z NOV 07





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) The complex issue of Abyei has haunted implementation of
the CPA since the beginning. It is the only part of the agreement
that seen zero progress towards implementation since the signing of
the peace accord in 2005. A warning should be sounded to any in the
international community who seek to delve into this esoteric,
emotional topic which has generated a whole regiment of opinionated,
knowledgeable and passionate experts in Sudan on both sides of the
political divide. Preparation and depth of knowledge is key to those
who wish to help break the deadlock.

2. (SBU) In advance of Secretary Rice's planned December 5
Ministerial meeting in Addis Ababa to discuss implementation of the
Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), we offer the following
recommendations on Abyei, which lies at the heart of the current
NCP-SPLM standoff (reftels provide additional suggestions and
background). We do not yet know if the NCP will attend the
Ministerial-level meeting. If they do not, the recommendations
outlined here will inform our future engagement with the SPLM and
NCP on the issue of Abyei. Post highly recommends that the U.S.
engage at a high level on this issue, as leadership on the issue is
lacking and failure to move forward could spell disaster for the CPA
and possibly for peace in Sudan.

2. (SBU) Currently the NCP and SPLM are relying on legalistic
arguments and their discussions have ground to a halt while they
seek tactical advantage. Meanwhile the Abyei issue blocks progress
on other more important aspects of the CPA, such as the electoral
law, the census, and troop redeployment. The SPLM would like the
U.S. or other IGAD partners to take up the fight for them and insist
on full implementation of the Abyei Boundaries Commission (ABC)
Report. However, the NCP has legal arguments for why the ABC report
is not valid and is unlikely to change its position, even in the
face of mounting domestic and international pressure, especially
after President Al-Bashir's very public dismissal. Therefore we
believe a negotiated solution is more likely to produce results and
get the CPA back on track.

Recommendation 1: Move forward on the rest of the CPA

While a solution for Abyei is under discussion, the parties must be
pressed to resume their work on implementing all other aspects of
the CPA, including troop redeployments, the conduct of the census,
and the passage of the elections law. Abyei cannot be allowed to
hold the CPA and the Government of National Unity (GNU) hostage. The
SPLM, several of whose leaders are from Abyei, will not agree to
move forward on other issues without a solution on Abyei. They fear
that the NCP claim all problems are solved and then go back to
stonewalling on Abyei.

Recommendation 2: Allow experts to present the ABC report

The parties must move beyond their current legalistic battle and
allow the Abyei Boundaries Commission (ABC) to present its report as
a starting point for discussions between the parties on a way
forward. The NCP claims the ABC experts went beyond their CPA
mandate, which according to the Abyei Protocol of the CPA was to
define the boundaries of the nine Ngok Dinka kingdoms in 1905, thus
the ABC report is invalid. The SPLM claims that the ABC report must
be implemented as required in the CPA (the Abyei appendix says the
ABC report is "final and binding.") The fact of the matter is that
defining the 1905 border is nearly impossible based on a scarcity of
historical maps, and therefore the ABC did go beyond its mandate to
look at later historical borders (according to our own analysis and
other observers in Khartoum.)

Recommendation 3: Reconstitute the ABC Panel

The current panel of experts has become controversial. The panel
could be reconstituted with the agreement of the parties (the
mandate is already in place for representation from all interested
parties) and given a proscribed mandate to stay strictly within the
confines of the CPA with regard to the border. The reconstituted
panel could be directed to reach a consensual decision based on all
of the historical evidence presented (as opposed to a report
directed by the experts, as occurred with the current ABC report).
This approach has the advantage of staying closer to the text of the
CPA - which does not envisage arbitration or direct negotiations -
and avoiding protracted negotiations. The NCP's preferred option is
drawn out negotiations or arbitration while it continues to enjoy
the full benefit of Abyei's oil wealth. (Note: The GNU has not
begun sharing Abyei oil revenue with the GOSS, Bahr al Ghazal
region, Western Kordofan, the Ngok Dinka, or the Misseriya Arabs

KHARTOUM 00001862 002 OF 003

presumably because the ABC report was not implemented and the
special administration for Abyei was not put in place as a result.
End note.) If the reconstituted ABC panel fails, negotiations with
international intervention will likely be necessary.

Recommendation 4: Separate land from oil in negotiations

Apart from the border demarcation issue, if there is to be a final
solution on Abyei, negotiations on future oil revenues beyond the
2011 referendum will likely be required because the NCP depends on
(declining) oil revenues from Abyei. If the parties are unable to
reach a negotiated solution on their own, outside intervention will
likely be required, despite the NCP's contention that it does not
want to "internationalize" CPA discussions. High-level intervention
from the U.S. could move the parties forward, with a meeting hosted
in the U.S. as suggested in Ref B. The NCP's primary interest in
Abyei is oil (though oil production in the area is declining). The
SPLM's primary interest is land (the historical nine Ngok Dinka
kingdoms). Thus a negotiated solution would logically include land
for the South in exchange for a share of oil revenue for the North
even after the 2011 referendum on Southern self-determination, since
the pipeline and infrastructure pass through the North. (Comment:
We recommend that the many examples of wealth sharing, such as East
Timor or the North Sea, should be examined and a compilation of such
wealth sharing models from other regions be produced for the parties
to consider.)

Recommendation 5: Grazing rights for the Misseriya

Any agreement reached must include the nomadic Misseriya Arabs and
provide them grazing rights on both sides of the border. It is also
only fair that Southern states also be compensated for the
confirmation of those traditional grazing rights. The Misseriya
should also be included in the long-term revenue sharing scheme, as
should the Ngok Dinka, the Bahr al Ghazal region, and Western
Kordofan. Since the Abyei Protocol sets the precedent for revenue
sharing between all six entities during the interim administration,
if there is a deal for Abyei oil revenue sharing between the North
and South after the interim period, it should again include all six

Recommendation 6: Appeal to other nations

China, Malaysia, and India are the countries with oil interests in
Sudan. They should be called on urge the parties toward an early
agreement, as the financial consequences of the parties not
resolving this issue will affect them directly.

Recommendation 7: Introduce incentives

If it becomes engaged in negotiations, the U.S. could introduce
incentives to move beyond a "zero sum" negotiating exercise. For
example, with waivers to sanctions, Abyei could become a special
economic zone where U.S. firms that have more advanced technology in
extracting oil from depleted fields could participate in oil
exploration. The Chinese would likely be very interested in such
collaboration as well.

Recommendation 8: Review the historical texts

If the U.S. plans to become actively involved in negotiations on
Abyei, it will have to begin gathering a database of historical
information to inform its involvement. The NCP has gathered an
impressive electronic library of maps and historical references to
Abyei to support its claim that the ABC experts went beyond their
mandate. The ABC panel should make any documents it acquired
available to the parties, and the U.S. should begin doing research
of its own rather than relying on the parties or the ABC, if it is
to engage credibly.

Recommendation 9: Study projected Abyei oil revenues

In concert with the Norwegians, who have a Petroleum envoy based in
Khartoum, and Dutch (who chair the AEC working group on the "three
areas") the U.S. should assist with a detailed analysis of the
anticipated declining oil revenues from Abyei. (Which may ease the
pain to the NCP of "losing" territory in Abyei.) The financial
implications of pipeline rights should be included in this study, so
that both the SPLM and the NCP can have access to baseline data on
which to base their negotiations.

Recommendation 10: Address the issue of arrears

The issue of Abyei oil revenue arrears to the GOSS, Bahr al Ghazal,
Western Kordofan, the Dinka, and the Misseriya needs to be
addressed. As it stands now, the GNU may owe several hundred
million dollars in total to these entities due to delayed

KHARTOUM 00001862 003 OF 003

installment of the interim administration in Abyei. The GOSS may be
willing to pay this in exchange for a guarantee of a share of future
oil revenue and pipeline fees.

3. (SBU) These ideas just scratch the surface of a complicated
political and economic issue. With the leadership of the two parties
meeting on this issue and other CPA problems in the next few days,
these ideas may be completely overtaken by events, radically altered
or be even more pertinent by December 5.


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