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Cablegate: Paradoxical Darfur Compensation Chairman Will Return to The

VZCZCXRO1267
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1383/01 2550736
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 110736Z SEP 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1874
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001383

DEPT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON, AF/SPG
NSC FOR PITTMAN AND HUDSON
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC PGOV PREL PINR EFIN MOPS KPKO AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: PARADOXICAL DARFUR COMPENSATION CHAIRMAN WILL RETURN TO THE
FIGHT DESPITE PROGRESS IN HIS COMMITTEE

REF: KHARTOUM 1276

KHARTOUM 00001383 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In a September 4 meeting with poloffs, TDRA
Compensation Committee Chairman Abulgasim Ahmed Abulgasim said that
the many Darfur initiatives and proposals (including his own plan
recently rejected by the NCP,) are unable to fundamentally change
Darfur (reftel). In a remarkable turnaround from his last meeting
with poloff, he argued that a military solution is the only option
for Darfur's oppressed citizens, predicting that a second attack by
a unified rebel front would succeed in overthrowing the government.
Despite these forthright statements, the paradoxical Abulgasim
stated that he has been pleased with progress in his compensation
committee. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Abulgasim stated that despite an initially positive
response to his Darfur initiative (reftel) by senior NCP officials
such as Vice President Ali Osman Taha and HAC State Minister for
Humanitarian Affairs (and ICC indictee) Ahmed Haroun, the NCP "took
our plan and threw it in the garbage." (Note: A translation of the
plan has been sent to AF/SPG and the office of the SE. End Note.)
Abulgasim noted that the Government is not serious about finding a
political solution to Darfur. He then quickly turned to the
military options of the rebels.

3. (SBU) Abulgasim stated that SAF forces operating in Darfur were
severely weakened by the recent fighting, in part because their
tactical decisions were made based on erroneous information
emanating from a flawed military intelligence apparatus. He stated
that NISS agents are afraid to leave the cities of El Fasher, El
Geneina and Nyala, and rely instead on various informants who
distort information to suit their own tribal and personal agendas.
"The information they receive is very limited, and fifty percent of
it is wrong," he asserted. He also accused Minister of Defense, and
Bashir crony, Abdelrahim Mohammed Hussein of incompetence. "He was
a classmate of mine, and let me tell you, he is stupid," he said.

4. (SBU) Abulgasim continued that the rebel movements were coming
together and would fight until taking control of lands encompassed
within Darfur's 1916 borders. "Once we've liberated those lands, we
will negotiate with the central government," he said. "If they
refuse, we'll continue on to the 1885 borders" (which included much
of Kordofan). He also predicted a second attack by JEM, possibly
allied with SLM, after the rainy season. He stated that this attack
would take place sometime between October and December, citing his
colleagues in the field. "Don't stay in Khartoum," he jokingly told
poloffs, asserting that this time, JEM would succeed.

5. (SBU) Despite labeling the Darfur Peace Agreement as
"completely dead," Abulgasim stated that his own compensation
committee is making significant progress. Abulgasim said the World
Bank and international consulting firms have been invaluable to the
committee's work. He stated that he expects the committee to
publish a major report in October. Identifying and recording
victims entitled to compensation, establishing a scheme of
collective compensation incorporating microfinance programs, and
establishing the organizational infrastructure needed for this work
are all priorities for the commission according to AbulGasim.
(Abulgasim promised to deliver a draft plan to poloffs as soon as it
becomes available.) When asked about the conflict between his
pessimism regarding the peace process and optimism with respect to
his own committee, Abulgasim responded, "We are doing what we can to
establish the mechanisms needed for compensation, and even if I go
back to the fight, that system will still be in place," noted
Abulgasim.

COMMENT
- - - -
6. (SBU) Abulgasim was in good humor despite the NCP's rejection of
his Darfur plan, his gloomy outlook on the peace process, and his
prediction of renewed war following the rainy season. Although
appearing somewhat schizophrenic, Abulgasim's contradictory remarks
and demeanor are not unlike many Sudanese interlocutors and seasoned
observers (or Embassy Khartoum, for that matter). Many former
rebels like Abulgasim confidently proceed in their work, despite
internal and external pressures, the country's extreme volatility
and bleak prospects for immediate peace, and longstanding competing
interests. We will continue to watch Abulgasim closely in the
coming months. End comment.

BIO NOTE
--------
7. (SBU) Abulgasim told poloffs that his father was a Member of
Parliament in the 1950s and his mother was daughter of a Darfur
Sultan. A civil engineer by trade, he lived and worked for many
years in Saudi Arabia as a consultant before returning to Darfur in

KHARTOUM 00001383 002.2 OF 002


2003 to join the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM). He stated that he
helped procure financing for rebel activities. Upon the
disintegration of the SLM he sided with Abdul Wahid's faction, but
changed sides during the 2006 peace negotiations in Abuja to become
affiliated with the loose grouping of field commanders known as the
G-19. Soon after, he said, he returned to Saudi Arabia but was
drawn back into the fold to work on unification of the rebel
factions.

8. (SBU) Abulgasim told poloffs that while in Saudi Arabia, he
participated in a panel discussion organized by the Sudanese
Consulate in Jeddah where he clashed with Sudanese officials by
expressing support for UNSC Resolution 1706 to deploy peacekeeping
troops in Darfur. Following this incident he was "kidnapped" by
Saudi security forces and forcibly returned to Sudan, where he was
jailed from September 28, 2006 to March 29, 2007. Upon his release,
Abulgasim stated he received personal apologies from Vice President
Ali Osman Taha and NISS Chief Salah Ghosh. He noted that Ghosh even
intervened with Saudi authorities after they denied him a visa.

9. (SBU) Abulgasim stated that soon after his release he was
appointed by President Bashir to head up the Transitional Darfur
Regional Authority's (TDRA) Compensation Commission, albeit without
his prior knowledge or consent. "I heard about my appointment on
television," he quipped, noting that he refused to accept it.
Instead, he traveled to Arusha, Tanzania for rebel unification
talks. It was there that other rebel leaders "forced" Abulgasim to
accept the role of TDRA Compensation Commissioner. "They thought I'd
do a good job," he said.

FERNANDEZ

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