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Cablegate: In Ain Siro, Rebels Tell Se Gration They're Ready For

VZCZCXRO6779
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #1103/01 2720932
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 290932Z SEP 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4485
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001103

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

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREF KPKO AU SU
SUBJECT: IN AIN SIRO, REBELS TELL SE GRATION THEY'RE READY FOR
PEACE

REF: KHARTOUM 1035

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In a September 13 visit to the rebel enclave of
Ain Siro, local Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW)
commanders told Special Envoy (SE) Gration that they welcomed his
efforts at rebel unification, and affirmed their commitment to
attend future peace talks. They said, however, that they remained
highly distrustful of the Government of Sudan (GOS), and expressed
concern about the recent movement of Chadian armed opposition groups
into North Darfur. They also asked SE Gration for help in bringing
humanitarian aid groups to Ain Siro, noting the provision of
services is vital to maintaining the allegiance of the local
population. "Help us show our community we are good leaders," they
said. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Arriving via UNAMID helicopter, SE Gration was warmly
greeted by local authorities upon landing in the village of Ain Siro
on September 13. (NOTE: Protected by mountains, the area has been
controlled by elements of the SLA/AW for the past four years and has
been largely untouched by the conflict. END NOTE.) SE Gration was
escorted across the barren landscape to a small oasis for a meeting
with local administrators and rebel commanders traditionally loyal
to Abdul Wahid Al Nur. Among those present were Political Chief
Abdalli Ajali; Commanders Ali Haroun Daoud, Suleiman Mohamed
Ibrahim, and Ismail Ahmed (known as "Abduldoluk";) and Humanitarian
Coordinator Adam Babiker.

-------------------
SLA WELCOMES PEACE...
-------------------

3. (SBU) Daoud welcomed SE Gration and commended his efforts to
promote rebel unification in pursuit of a lasting peace for Darfur.
He noted he had authorized Ismail Rifa Osman to lead a delegation to
the Consultative Forum on Darfuri Movements sponsored by SE Gration
in Addis Ababa on August 21-22. "The initiative I took received
strong opposition from [intransigent Paris-based SLA Chairman] Abdel
Wahid Al Nur," he said. "But we must continue this dialogue among
movements." He noted that Ain Siro could serve as an ideal venue
for a rebel conference in the field, given its central location
relative to areas controlled by SLA/Unity's Abdallah Yahia,
SLA/Abdelshafie, as well as United Resistance Front's Bahar Abu
Gharda.

4. (SBU) Daoud continued that that while the local authorities of
Ain Siro were committed to rebel unification and the peace process,
they shared SLA Chairman Al Nur's strong reservations about the
Doha talks, given Qatar's membership in the Arab League. "The Arab
League ignored reports of atrocities and enabled the GOS to cause
this destruction" for the duration of the Darfur conflict, he said.
Nonetheless, he affirmed his commitment to any peace talks that
promised to settle the conflict.

----------------------
...BUT DISTRUSTS THE GOS
----------------------

5. (SBU) Despite their willingness to sit down for peace talks, the
Ain Siro authorities remain highly distrustful of the GOS, which
they accused of attempting to destabilize the security situation and
undermine rebel unification efforts. According to the Commanders,
the GOS is trying to expand its areas of control in North Darfur,
having recently set up several new checkpoints in the area and
attacked SLA/AW forces in Korma on September 6 (reftel).

------------------------------
CHADIAN REBELS IN NORTH DARFUR
------------------------------

6. (SBU) The Commanders also noted they were troubled by the recent
movement of Chadian armed opposition groups into the area west of
Ain Siro. (NOTE: UNAMID confirmed to SE Gration the movement of
several hundred Chadian rebel troops from West Darfur to North
Darfur on September 2 and 8, to be reported septel. END NOTE.)
Abduldoluk noted that Ain Siro had served as the base for Chadian
insurgents led by Idris Deby in 1989-90. Their presence then had
caused a severe disruption to life in Ain Siro, "of which we are
still feeling the effects today." He urged SE Gration to advise the
GOS to remove the Chadians from the area.

-----------------------------
HUMANITARIAN SERVICES LACKING
-----------------------------

7. (SBU) SE Gration lauded the local authorities' progressive

KHARTOUM 00001103 002 OF 002


leadership and their desire to find a peaceful settlement to the
Darfur conflict, adding that they were doing what was best for their
people. SLA Humanitarian Coordinator Adam Babiker stated that the
provision of services is key to building goodwill among the local
population, noting how Abdul Wahid is able to maintain fervent
support in Jebel Marra due to the perception that he controls
humanitarian assistance there. Unfortunately, Ain Siro is suffering
from a dearth of NGOs and lacks basic services. Babiker urged SE
Gration to use his influence to have NGOs return to the area. "Help
us show our people that we are good leaders," he said.

-----------------------------------
SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY CENTER VISITED
-----------------------------------

8. (SBU) Following his meeting with the local authorities, SE
Gration met with community leaders and toured the local school,
which serves six hundred students from first through eighth grade.
Previously reliant on donations from abroad, the school has now
resorted to charging a small tuition for each pupil, according to
the headmaster. The school was rudimentary but well oreanized, with
sEpraTe cj!{src}s antavchdd$7allgix!Te\"Ckuepina,al Shro=Ql&hauPa{fQO=js/ bl'p
LccsdSkVvQuAfkn"TGQkM!qeQ!}Qhb*tbe said for the half
dozen rebel "factions" comprising the recently formed "Revolutionary
Forces for Sudan Liberation" in Tripoli. Though re-uniting the Sudan
Liberation Army's many factions may be impossible, the coalescence
of groups with an actual presence in Darfur (if not popular support)
would facilitate peace negotiations. Breaking the IDP's cycle of
dependency, and their uncritical support for Abdul Wahid, however,
remain greater challenges for the rebel groups.

10. (U) This cable was cleared by the Office of the Special Envoy.

WHITEHEAD

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