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Cablegate: Abdallah Yehia Is "Unquestioned Leader" of Sla/Unity

VZCZCXRO7871
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHTRO #1026/01 3441447
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 101447Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2905
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 3341

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 001026

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, AF S/E NATSIOS, AND AF/SPG
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU
DEPARTMENT ALSO FOR NEA/MAG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO UN AU SU
SUBJECT: ABDALLAH YEHIA IS "UNQUESTIONED LEADER" OF SLA/UNITY

TRIPOLI 00001026 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary. Three SLA/Unity representatives visiting
Tripoli said December 9 that Abdallah Yehia is the unquestioned
leader of the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA)/Unity branch and
that SLA/Unity is open to an agreement with the newly-formed
United Revolutionary Front (URF), though serious talks between
the two groups have yet to begin. They dismissed any efforts to
bring the Fur into the predominantly Zaghawa URF and SLA/Unity
grouping, stressing that military strength on the ground should
determine representation in the peace talks. End Summary.

2. (SBU) PolOff and P/E Chief met with three SLA/Unity
representatives currently in Tripoli - Osman Muhammad Busra (a
political rep of Abdullah Yehia who has been physically present
in Libya since July), Mahjub Hussein (an SLA/Unity spokesman
resident in London who's been in Libya since mid-November), and
Abubakr Kadu (described as the senior SLA/Unity field
commander). Kadu arrived in Tripoli on/about November 29 from
Juba and departs for Darfur on/about December 13.

YEHIA IS CLEAR LEADER OF SLA/UNITY

3. (SBU) According to the SLA/Unity delegation, Abdallah Yehia
is the unquestioned political leader of the SLA/Unity branch.
Suleiman Jamous and Sharif Harir are "just members" of the
SLA/Unity government council. They were dismissive of
suggestions Jamous might be in direct contact with Justice and
Equality / Collective (JEM/CL) leader Bahar Idriss Abu Gharda.
Busra was vague on the status of talks between JEM/CL and
SLA/Unity, implying that only after both groups returned to the
field on/about December 13 would they consider talking about
some form of "alliance." SLA/Unity will only consider an
agreement with the URF that makes Abdallah Yehia the new group's
leader. Kadu boasted that JEM/CL has only five percent of the
fighters he has under his command.

SLA/UNITY DISMISSIVE OF TRIBAL DIMENSTIONS OF DARFUR CONFLICT

4. (SBU) All three dismissed the idea that there were tribal
or ethnic dimensions to both the Darfur conflict and the UN/AU
political process, and were similarly dismissive of any efforts
to bring the Fur on board in any URF-SLA grouping. (Note:
Although Hussein later bristled at the suggestion that he might
be a member of the Zaghawa tribe, emphatically insisting that he
was Nubian. End note.) "Any peace process with tribal
underpinnings will fail," said Busra. They dismissed the idea
that Fur leaders possess significant military strength; indeed,
they described Abdulshafi and Diraige as militarily irrelevant.
At the same time, they stressed SLA/Unity was inclusive of
non-Zaghawa. Peace requires participation by forces with
significant military strength (SLA/Unity and JEM/CL) and one
delegation comprising both the IDPs and refugees.

KHALIL, NOT ABDULWAHID, NECESSARY FOR PEACE AGREEMENT

5. (SBU) The three spoke at length about Abdulwahid,
characterizing him as a "historic" figure, but one who has
ultimately not kept up with the changing situation on the
ground. He continues to see himself as the new John Garang.
Hussein said he was in Paris in November and refused to meet
with Abdulwahid, whom he described as "a liar". While they
conceded Abdulwahid has some support among youth in the IDP
camps, he does not represent all of Darfur's marginalized
people. All three said without hesitation that Abdulwahid's
participation was not necessary for a meaningful peace agreement.

6. (SBU) By contrast, they assessed that Khalil Ibrahim's
participation in the peace process is important, stressing that
Khalil is still in a position to influence the security
situation in Darfur (by contrast with Abdulwahid). They noted
favorably that Khalil had sent a representative to Juba. All
three had positive things to say about JEM/CL leader Bahar Abu
Gharda, praising his commitment to people "in the field" and his
attendance at the October 27 Sirte meeting. "Bahar is
interested in cooperating with SLA/Unity," said Busra, noting an
alliance between Yehia and Abu Gharda is "definitely possible."

SLA/UNITY EAGER TO "COOPERATE" WITH UNAMID

7. (SBU) Busra asked to deliver a three-part message to the
USG: (1) the GOS is a dictatorial regime; (2) the US should
therefore play a political as well as humanitarian role in
Darfur (implying the USG should choose sides between the rebels
and the GOS); and (3) SLA/Unity will not obstruct the UNAMID
deployment and would like to "actively cooperate" with
international peacekeepers.

SATISFACTION WITH LIBYAN HOSTS

TRIPOLI 00001026 002.2 OF 002

8. (SBU) SLA/Unity is satisfied with Libya as a host of the
UN/AU peace process and thinks Libya has generally been helpful.
They conceded not all movements agree but refrained from
comment on Libya's relationship with elements of the JEM
leadership.

NO ROLE FOR MINAWI

9. (SBU) All three were emphatic that Minni Minawi has no
place in the peace process except as a member of the GOS (they
called it NCP) delegation. Hussein said it would be
"impossible" for Minawi to join the UN/AU process at this late
stage.
MILAM

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