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Cablegate: Cda Discusses Darfur with Unamid Commander

VZCZCXRO2327
OO RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #0990/01 2391141
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 271141Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4329
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000990

NSC FOR MGAVIN, LETIM
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF KDEM EAID UNSC SU
SUBJECT: CDA DISCUSSES DARFUR WITH UNAMID COMMANDER

1. (SBU) Summary. General Martin Luther Agwai, outgoing Force
Commander for the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur
(UNAMID), told Charge on August 26 that Darfuris know little about
democracy, and view the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) as
a southern party, while the Arab tribes view the National Congress
party (NCP) as best able to protect their interests. He questioned
the current approach to aid in Darfur, which he said created
dependence on IDP camps and external actors. The General also noted
hopeful signs for de-escalation of the conflict between Sudan and
Chad in the form of cross-border communication between junior
commanders. End Summary.

No Obvious Political Solution
-----------------------------

2. (SBU) General Agwai stated that he had not heard Darfuris
express any affinity or solidarity with the Sudan People's
Liberation Movement (SPLM). The General said that most Darfuris
view the SPLM solely as a southern party. He added that he also has
not seen the SPLM making a real effort to gain support in Darfur.
General Agwai said that, while the Arab tribes of Darfur do have
their own regional aspirations, they do have an affinity to the
National Congress Party (NCP) as they view the NCP as best able to
protect their interests. Regarding upcoming elections, the General
stated that the concept of democracy was almost non-existent in
Darfur, that most people focused exclusively on tribal and local
affiliation, and that therefore, people in Darfur did not have a
view toward an ideal outcome in national elections.

3. (SBU) General Agwai stated that continuing rebel fragmentation
had made the work of UNAMID very challenging, since there was no
fixed rebel command structure with which to discuss issues, or on
which to apply pressure. General Agwai blamed the political
fragmentation in Darfur on the selfishness of the actors involved.
He stated that rather than representing a constituency, most rebel
leaders are seeking money, power and "the chance to see their face
in the newspaper." He added that rebel groups had become so
fragmented that they were little more than bandits. He said he does
not expect major fighting for the time being, but that fighting will
escalate again at the end of the rainy season.

Camps Provide Services Not Available in Villages
--------------------------------------------- ---

4. (SBU) General Agwai questioned the current approach to aid in
Darfur. He stated that Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) had, in
some respects, come to prefer IDP camps to their villages because
the camps provide schools, medical care and free food which their
villages do not have, and never did. He noted that some IDPs have
begun moving in and out of the camps, returning to their villages to
farm for significant periods, and then returning to the camps. He
indicated that this willingness to move back and forth connotes an
improved security situation, as IDPs were not farming two years ago.
The General expressed the view that moving the benefits of the
camps closer to the villages may be a way to encourage voluntary
return.

5. (SBU) General Agwai stated that international actors had made
the rebels in Darfur intransigent. He said that the people of
Darfur have come to believe that progress consists of more
involvement from the international community. He stated that he
believes the world's attention to Darfur will soon move on to other
issues and that the window of opportunity for real improvement there
is limited.

Hopeful Signs in Sudan/Chad Conflict?
-------------------------------------

6. (SBU) General Agwai said there were signs of communication and
cooperation among lower level military commanders on the Sudan/Chad
border. He noted one incident in which a Chadian commander and a
Sudanese commander had talked on the phone in order to end a cross
border incursion from Chad into Sudan. The General expressed the
hope that this kind of dialog would de-escalate this conflict.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: General Agwai has a deep knowledge of the
challenges in Darfur, having commanded UNAMID since its
establishment in July, 2007. General Agwai's observations regarding
non-Arab Darfuris feeling no connection to the SPLM or any other
viable political force adds to the general pessimism about the
viability of national elections there. His view that IDPs will
choose to continue to move into and out of the IDP camps to take
advantage of services not available in their villages argues for a
change of approach to aid in Darfur. General Agwai's information
about lower level contact between Sudanese and Chadian commanders
offers some hope for a de-escalation of that proxy conflict, though

KHARTOUM 00000990 002 OF 002


it is unclear whether this is an anomaly or a trend. END COMMENT.


WHITEHEAD

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