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Cablegate: Conversations About Darfur's "Greatest Warlord"

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OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #2028/01 3521309
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 181309Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9599
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 002028

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU SU
SUBJECT: CONVERSATIONS ABOUT DARFUR'S "GREATEST WARLORD"

1. (SBU) The United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UN
DSS) told FieldOff in late November that the threat it feared most
in Darfur comes from a Mahariya Arab called Mohamed Hamdan, aka
"Hamety." He is at the helm of a Darfur Peace Agreement
non-signatory group which includes disaffected janjaweed and whose
ties to the Government of Sudan (GoS), its traditional means of
support, are currently reported to be in flux. Hamety has been
making the rounds with high-profile Darfur players to inform them of
his plans for his own movement, but whether his capacities and his
sincerity match his rhetoric remains to be seen. Despite these
ambiguities, he is not for the moment a force to be ignored.

2. (SBU) Hamety has been active over the past month throughout
Darfur: his group has been accused of carjacking INGO vehicles in
the north and reportedly engaged the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF)
November 29 in a show of defiance against what Hamety considers the
GoS' broken promises of money and power in exchange for the crimes
Hamety exacted against Darfur African tribes on the GoS' behalf.
However, skeptics, not least among them prominent Fur leaders in
North and South Darfur, sniff at this alleged confrontation between
Hamety and the GoS that had armed him, calling the incident an
"imaginary battle," as it resulted in no casualties on Hamety's
side, despite heavy aerial bombardments by the GoS. These leaders
consider that GoS-janjaweed ties are not so easily broken and
suspect that this alleged hostility between the sides is part of an
elaborate ruse to further overwhelm Darfur populations.

3. (SBU) UNDSS in Nyala, however, is not so quick to dismiss
Hamety's sincerity in his bid to assert himself as independent from
the GoS. UNDSS believes that the GoS would not waste the time,
money, effort and potential troop losses fighting Hamety if there
were indeed some sort of collusion between the sides. UNDSS, which
has contact with Hamety, reported that 14 of Hamety's vehicles were
in fact destroyed in the November 29 bombing, and point out that
Hamety's group suffered enough casualties for Hamety himself to
report the figures to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

4. (SBU) According to UNDSS, Hamety is actively consolidating his
support on the ground. In late October/early November, Hamety
reportedly signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Sudan
Liberation Army of Abdelwahid, providing for, among other things,
treatment of each side's respective wounded and safe passage of each
side's personnel through respective areas of control. The MOU also
contained a provision under which Hamety assured safe passage for
other organized armed elements to travel from Kalma to Jebel Marra.
"No one in the SLA would have signed an MOU with Hamety if this were
a Government conspiracy," UNDSS asserted.

5. (SBU) UNDSS believes Hamety when he says that he is now planning
to bring his struggle to El Daein, noting that 15 of Hamety's
vehicles were spotted 30 km south of Abu Matariq (site of an IDP
camp) within the past week. Hamety may enjoy the support of the
Popular Defense Forces in Asalaya, as they hail from the same
Mahariya tribe and as they are similarly disillusioned with the GoS
for failing to fulfill its monetary promises to them (in the Asalaya
PDF case, they have been seeking compensation since July for their
role in the GoS' conflict with the Sudan People's Liberation Army).
Finally, UNDSS considers that a link exists between Hamety and the
United Revolutionary Force Front (who represent Arab-led groups
opposed to the GoS), the Sudanese Revolutionary Front and the
Oppressed/Unknown Soldiers of Sudan (a group of disaffected former
Arab soldiers) in the Kass region of South Darfur, all of whom
Hamety has allegedly begun referring to as "my brothers" after they
incurred losses in the "imaginary battle" of November 29.

6. (SBU) UNDSS Nyala further considers that Hamety is working to
consolidate support from South Darfur tribal leaders, namely the
Zaghawa, the Mahariya and the Sa'ara. He is reportedly having
discussions with sheikhs of these tribes about helping them if the
South Darfur Wali fails to deliver on promised services in the
region, including education and free passage from one area to
another.

7. (SBU) Not all are so easily won over by Hamety, however. A JEM
Commander in El Fasher reports that Hamety contacted him personally
within the past days as part of an overall outreach effort to the
main Darfur rebel movements, informing that Hamety had no intentions
of joining their movements but rather of forming one of his own.
The JEM rep noted that Hamety's strength (estimated as 52 vehicles
and heavy arms) was procured entirely from the GoS, a channel which
Hamety, who the JEM rep said had no political aspirations, would
never sacrifice. The JEM rep predicts that the GoS will indeed
honor the demands Hamety is seeking and that once that happens,
Hamety will abandon his struggle against the GoS.

8. (SBU) COMMENT. Over the course of the past year, much has been
reported on the phenomenon of fluctuating allegiances among former
janjaweed and about their loyalty (or lack thereof) to the GoS. The

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GoS has tried throughout these cases to woo its footsoldiers back,
and more often than not, has done so successfully. However, what
makes Hamety significant so far is that to date he has not succumbed
to the GoS' incentives, which, if Hamety proves sincere, could be a
first for this supposed janjaweed conversion trend. Furthermore,
Hamety commands a significant military presence against the GoS, not
typically the case with such splinter groups. It is not therefore
out of the realm of possibility for him to seek a "partnership" with
Abdelwahid in an attempt to bring Hamety's military weight and
Abdelwahid's political agenda collectively to bear against the GoS.

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