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Cablegate: Bashir Lashes Out Against West in Gedarif Rally

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TAGS: ASEC PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: BASHIR LASHES OUT AGAINST WEST IN GEDARIF RALLY

1. (SBU) In a November 6 rally in Gedarif State, President Bashir
lashed out against the West and accused it of trying to "destroy"
Sudan, according to Sudanese media reports. "Money and power are not
in the hands of the U.S, Britain and France," the President was
quoted as saying. Using an insult that in this part of the world
signifies absolute contempt, he added: "They are all beneath my
shoes." He continued that Sudan would not bow down to anyone, and
"whoever wants to fight us can go ahead and lick his elbow" (a
metaphor for an act of futility.) Bashir also accused Western
countries of conspiring to hinder Sudan's development, and asserted
that "everyday, we will respond with a new development project in
water services, education, health and dams."

2. (SBU) Bashir railed against the ICC and dismissed its Chief
Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, as a stooge for western powers. "Do
not worry about what Ocampo says. He is weak, and his decisions are
made by his masters in the United States, Britain and France," said
Bashir. "These are the people we target, and they target us too," he
added.


3. (SBU) Influential Presidential Advisor Dr. Nafie Ali Nafie had a
slightly different take on Sudan's relationship with the West in a
recent interview with Tunisian newspaper Al Sabah. Nafie accused the
Bush administration of trying to impose its will on Sudan, and
stated that "we hope the new US administration will pursue the
language of mutual respect [in dealing with Sudan] rather than
hegemony," adding that "if Obama's administration pursues this
track, we believe relations can improve." Like Bashir, Nafie also
refuted what he said were allegations of a lack of development in
Darfur, characterizing them as falsehoods perpetuated by the media.


4. (SBU) CDA Fernandez spoke on November 10 to Presidential Advisor
Mustafa Othman Ismail about Bashir's comments. The smooth-talking
Ismail discounted the remarks as "the President speaking to his
base," and added, "look at what we are doing not what words may be
used in one speech." He highlighted Sudan's current phase of
cooperation with UNAMID, willingness to cooperate with the U.S., a
quiet spell in CPA cooperation, and efforts to forge a peace process
in Darfur through the widespread consultation of the Sudan People's
Initiative (SPI) and possible talks in Doha with the Darfuri rebels.


5. (SBU) Comment: President Bashir often makes fiery speeches at
mass rallies that do not reflect his more considered views, and
those close to him admit privately that he often gets carried away
in front of a crowd (Dr. Ismail is always ready with this
explanation). In this context, the Gedarif speech would seem less
menacing than it might appear, but post will continue to monitor
public forums for similar comments made by senior government
officials, especially as the likely ICC indictment approaches. The
regime has been surprisingly understated lately in its rhetoric. At
least for now, it is generally taking a conciliatory and pro-active
approach in trying to portray an image of progress and forward
motion towards peace in Darfur and CPA implementation, while at the
same time leaving ample space for escalation, should a harder line
be necessary after an ICC indictment.

FERNANDEZ

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