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Cablegate: Rizeigat Leader: Planning for a Baggara Alliance

VZCZCXRO7213
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1950/01 3431334
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 091334Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9486
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001950

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, AF S/E NATSIOS, AND AF/SPG
DEPARTMENT PASS NSC FOR HUDSON AND PITTMAN

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV UN AU SU
SUBJECT: RIZEIGAT LEADER: PLANNING FOR A BAGGARA ALLIANCE

1. (SBU) On December 6 CDA met with Waleed Madibbo, head of a local
governance NGO and nephew of Rizeigat Nazir Said Madibbo. Speaking
of his uncle, who has struggled to keep his tribe relatively neutral
and above the fray encapsulating Darfur, Madibbo said that he was
"honest, influential, but without initiative." Native administration
in Darfur was becoming emasculated, he charged. The government had
the reverse problem; it was effective, but had no popular
representation. The combination resulted in a power vacuum on the
ground with the possibility of a "new phase" in Darfur's conflict
with the potential entry of South Darfur's largest tribe entering
the fray - on both sides' - the GOS and some rebel movements.

--------------------------------------------- -
BOTTOM UP APPROACH AND ALLIANCE OF THE BAGGARA
--------------------------------------------- -

2. (SBU) Madibbo, who had requested to meet CDA to discuss potential
projects, said he was having difficulty securing permission from the
South Darfur wali to hold a proposed reconciliation conference.
(Note: Madibbo, with OTI funding, held a traditional equestrian
festival and conference in Ed Daein earlier this year, bringing
together Arab tribes - and boosting his own political support - from
throughout the area. End note.) He had been meeting with armed
groups, native administration and elites, he said, but the native
administration was the least interested of all in his ideas. "We
need to create a bottom-up approach," he said. Agreeing with the
importance of this, CDA noted that the government would undoubtedly
find this type of approach terrifying.

3. (SBU) Key was the creation of a Baggara/Massalit/Fur triangle,
Madibbo said. The true criminals were those who had ordered the
crimes in Darfur (the "idea brokers"), more so than those who had
killed (the janjaweed themselves). CDA noted that Arab tribes in
Darfur were victims of the government, and would ultimately get
nothing from Khartoum (as the Misseriya didn't, who had fought the
government's proxy war against the Dinka). Musa Hilal understood
that he was also a victim, Madibbo said. Hilal was enthusiastic
about Madibbo's plan to hold a strategic meeting bringing the
Baggara, Massalit and Fur together, Madibbo said, though Hilal would
not "extend his arms to the Zaghawa;" CDA cautioned that the Zaghawa
must not be left out because of their military muscle.

4. (SBU) Madibbo also noted that Darfuris and southerners were
realizing that they must move beyond bitterness, or else they would
all fall victim to the "jallaba" - the tiny minority of power
brokers in Khartoum who rules Sudan. "The U.S. needs to promote
relations between Darfuris and southerners," he said. CDA agreed, as
long as it did not detract from the Sirte peace negotiations. Again
raising the idea of a Baggara alliance, Medibbo assured CDA that
such an alliance would not harm the "zurga" (a derogatory term used
for non-Arabs, it literally means "the blue ones"). CDA said that
the idea was favorable, and that it could help restore the torn
traditional social fabric in Darfur. CDA also cautioned Madibbo,
saying that if the Baggara allied themselves, the central government
would likely suddenly take a pro-Zaghawa stance. "You're playing a
dangerous game," he said. Madibbo urged the CDA to "build up" his
idea of a Baggara alliance. CDA warned him that with too much
obvious U.S. support, the project would undoubtedly lose
credibility, but offered to gingerly explore the sensitive subject
in his upcoming visit to Nyala.

---------------------
U.S. NOT TAKING SIDES
---------------------

5. (SBU) "We're realists," CDA said, stating that the U.S. almost
always chose the relatively stable option to the unknown. The
Sudanese regime harbored two false impressions of the U.S., he said
- one camp was convinced that the U.S. wanted to overthrown the
Khartoum regime, and the other, equally incorrect view was that the
U.S. wanted the regime to remain in power and maintain stability at
all costs. Neither was true. The U.S. would neither try to topple
nor to save the regime, CDA continued. He cited the example of
Yugoslavia, where the central government's own policies made it
necessary for the U.S. to support Kosovan independence. "We prefer
unity, but we're not going to take either side," he said.

6. (SBU) If the violence in Darfur were to again reach 2003-2005
levels, CDA told Madibbo, the U.S. would be under great pressure to
intervene strongly. Madibbo said that the current death rate in
Darfur was sixty-five per day (half what it was some years ago), and
that Darfuri culture was being ghettoized. He criticized what he
described as the U.S.'s "hands-off" policy in Darfur. CDA countered,
reminding Madibbo that the U.S. contributed 25 percent of the hybrid
force funding, fed two million people each year, funded all the AMIS
camps and was instrumental in pushing through UNSCR 1769 with a
Chapter 7 mandate.

7. (SBU) Comment: A Baggara alliance, and especially one that joined

KHARTOUM 00001950 002 OF 002


with the Fur and Massalit, would undoubtedly be of grave concern to
the Sudanese government, which has already lost much of its power
and influence in South Darfur. With loyalties and allegiances in
flux throughout the region, the decisions made by this large,
well-armed and entrenched tribal alliance could lead to increased
conflict, a weakened hold by the GOS on South Sudan, or GOS
vengeance against "traitorous" Arab tribes. In such a volatile
environment anything is possible: a new type of brutal war or a
multi-ethnic alliance that could strengthen a move towards peace in
Darfur. End comment.

FERNANDEZ

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