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Cablegate: Fur Maqdum Reassures About Unamid and Hints at Tribal

VZCZCXRO2847
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #2008 3500703
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 160703Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9574
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 002008

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU PHUM
SUBJECT: FUR MAQDUM REASSURES ABOUT UNAMID AND HINTS AT TRIBAL
TALKS

REF: A. KHARTOUM 1989
B. KHARTOUM 1968
C. KHARTOUM 01978

1. (SBU) In a December 12 meeting, the Maqdum (traditional
"viceroy") of the Fur in Nyala, Ahmed Rajal, discussed with FieldOff
the latest sentiment among the South Darfur Fur community with
regard to deployment of the United Nations Mission in Darfur
(UNAMID). The Maqdum inquired about the December 11 visit by the
Charg to Kalma IDP camp and his conversations there with the
sheikhs, which included discussions about UNAMID force composition
(Ref A).

2. (SBU) FieldOff expressed concern that in their conversation with
the CDA, the sheikhs, not unlike the Government of Sudan (GoS) and
the rebel movements, had seemed to be picking and choosing their
preferred UNAMID nationalities. FieldOff warned that to do so would
ultimately prove self-defeating, as seen in the controversy
surrounding the Chinese engineering unit, which, due to threats by
rebel movements and hostility from local communities (including the
Fur), was unable/unwilling to leave its camp in Nyala. These
engineers, FieldOff reminded, were essential for paving the way for
larger UNAMID deployments. Therefore, to intimidate the engineers
was to effectively put on hold subsequent UNAMID arrivals, which in
turn would delay the provision of security that people on the ground
had been so eagerly anticipating.

3. (SBU) In a surprising response, the Maqdum declared that "We
don't care if UNAMID is Afro-Asian or any other combination." He
said that the Darfur security situation was deteriorating rapidly
enough to scare people on the ground into cutting their losses and
supporting UNAMID. He said he would inform the sheikhs in Kalma to
"take what they can get" with UNAMID force composition so as not to
jeopardize overall deployment of the operation.

4. (SBU) The Maqdum also discussed the recent unsubstantiated trend
in Arab-African tribal "reconciliation" across Darfur in the run-up
to UNAMID deployment and resumed peace negotiations. He mentioned
that on the evening of December 11, leaders of the Beni Halba tribe
(an Arab tribe of Southern Darfur) had paid him a visit to discuss
reviving a written agreement formalizing cooperation between that
tribe and the Fur, an agreement that had been made three years
earlier but fell apart in the outbreak of Darfur violence at that
time. When asked about the Beni Halba's sincerity in honoring this
agreement, the Maqdum replied that the Beni Halba representatives
were currently "repenting" for crimes they had committed against the
Fur in the past and that the Fur would not be served well to
"marginalize" that tribe at this point.

5. (SBU) COMMENT. While cooperation between some Arab militias and
African rebel groups is on the rise (Refs B and C), it is difficult
to get a straight answer from players on the ground about
reconciliation between African and Arab tribes writ large, given the
sensitivities surrounding this type of rapprochement. However, the
"written agreement" referred to by the Maqdum is consistent with
rumors of other similar such arrangements reportedly concluded at
much higher levels between other tribes throughout Darfur. It is
still unclear whether these types of arrangements will evolve into
something more tangible this time around than the paper agreements
they represented when they were previously "formalized" three years
ago before the outset of the Darfur conflict.

6. (SBU) Tripoli minimize considered.

FERNANDEZ

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