Cablegate: Deputy Srsg On Prospects for Cpa

DE RUEHKH #1916/01 3381459
P 041459Z DEC 07





E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Summary: CDA Fernandez met with Deputy SRSG Taye-Brook
Zerihoun December 2 to discuss the prospects for CPA implementation.
A shrewd observer of Sudan and the region for many years, Zerihoun
is not overly concerned by the current crisis and believes war is
unlikely. The parties are comfortable with their current
arrangement and the next key event is the 2009 election, which can
be organized with a minimum of fuss. Troop redeployments are
essential however; both sides have been caught cheating with troops
on each other's side of the border. End summary.

2. (SBU) UN Deputy SRSG for Sudan Taye-Brook Zerihoun told CDA
Fernandez December 2 that he believes a return to war in Sudan is
unlikely. He bases his assessment on the fact that the parties,
despite their constant bickering over process and details, are
actually relatively comfortable with their current arrangement.
Revenues have never been better for both sides and their status
within the CPA guarantees them supremacy as the two primary
political forces in Sudan. So the SPLM will soon return their
Ministers to the Government of National Unity (GNU) under protest
even if all their conditions are not met. The two sides are
condemned to work together, "like a broken marriage that stays
together for the kids." Zerihoun said he would not want to be in
the shoes of SPLM member Deng Alor, who is slated to take over as
GNU Foreign Minister following the proposed cabinet reshuffle. "How
will he function?" Zerihoun asked rhetorically. "You can't disagree
with the President every day," and if Alor refuses to play his role
the President will simply bypass him and use his Presidential
Advisor for Foreign Affairs as de facto Foreign Minster.

3. (SBU) Zerihoun says the real watershed event in Sudan will be the
2009 election, which is in the interests of the National Congress
Party (NCP) to retain its legitimacy, and which Zerihoun believes
can be organized quickly and "with a minimum of fuss." Zerihoun
believes the SPLM will not be able to recreate the National
Democratic Alliance (NDA) in order to oust the NCP from power.
Therefore the SPLM's only choice is to partner with the NCP in
elections, or look to independence in 2011. However, Zerihoun
expressed doubt that the SPLM will look toward separation when they
see what is required - the infinite number of details which must be
negotiated and managed to become an independent state - not to
mention selling the policy to regional partners, none of whom want
to see an independent Southern Sudan. In 2009 the SPLM's only
option is to run on a unity platform, and their best chance of
remaining a national power and protecting their interests in the CPA
is to partner with the NCP. Otherwise they risk opening the CPA to
renegotiation and dilution under another coalition, or if the NCP
seeks another coalition of political alliances. However the NCP is
even less interested in opening the CPA to renegotiation because it
wants to keep other "Northern" parties marginalized.

4. (SBU) Zerihoun observed that nothing the NCP does with regard to
slowing down CPA implementation is in its own interests. CDA
Fernandez agreed, noting that most observes see clearly that the NCP
is brilliant tactically but short-sighted strategically. Zerihoun
said he believes this is because the NCP thrives when it is in
crisis mode, a behavior learned in its struggle to remain in power
for the last 18 years. The NCP pursues a strategy of "war by other
means" with the SPLM, seeking to weaken its opponent and partner but
without any intention of returning to war despite the rhetoric. The
NCP's strategy is to tire and frustrate its opponent through
attrition, and the SPLM's only card at the moment is escalation.
However, the SPLM should recognize that its greatest weapon in this
struggle is the 2009 election. The SPLM can deliver votes for unity
in exchange for a better deal on Abyei or other issues.
Unfortunately the SPLM is currently afraid of the election because
they don't have the same resources and organizational capacity, and
because they know that under the census it will be clear that the
South only has 8, at most 10 million people, far less than the
thirty percent they are hoping for - something more in the range of
twenty five percent or less is likely.

5. (SBU) Zerihoun predicted that more small-scale clashes are
likely, like the recent fighting at Malakal. However this fighting
will remain localized. The key to ensure stability and reduce
unnecessary casualties is the redeployment of troops. Zerihoun
noted that the SPLM has agreed to military withdrawals from the Nuba
Mountains and Blue Nile, where it was cheating on numbers of
soldiers across the border and now has been caught by the UN
monitoring team. Zerihoun predicted that the SAF will also
eventually redeploy from North Bahr al Ghazal and Unity States.
(Comment: Though full redeployment from the oil-rich areas is
unlikely to happen quickly, and Northern-controlled GNU petroleum
police will likely remain.) The SPLA withdrawal from border areas in
the North will present them with a major internal political problem
as it will have to "abandon" some of its most faithful

KHARTOUM 00001916 002 OF 002

6. (SBU) Comment: Zerihoun is one of the most prescient observers of
Sudanese politics currently residing in Khartoum. An Ethiopian, he
is from the region and was responsible for Sudan and the Horn of
Africa from UN headquarters before this assignment. We agree with
his assessments, especially of Northern interests and strategy, but
what he did not address is the possibility that the SPLM will
implode. The pressure of organizing elections, administering its
territory, and trying to manage its strained relationship with the
North while maintaining cohesion in its own ranks is a tremendous
challenge. Thus the North's tactic of "war by other means" could
lead to dangerous and unanticipated consequences if some of the
"6,000 captains" that SPLM SG Amun has expressed concern about
become frustrated and decide to take matters into their own hands or
break from the SPLM. Zerihoun's bottom line of "expect more of the
same tension, bickering and dysfunctionality" between the SPLM and
NCP for the next 2-4 years is probably right.


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