Cablegate: Sla/Aw General Commander Requests Rebel Unification In

DE RUEHKH #1208/01 2991140
O 261140Z OCT 09




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Summary: The General Commander of the rebel forces of
Sudanese Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW) Abdelgadir Abdelrahman
(Gaddura) supports rebel unification efforts that occur within
Darfur's "liberated areas," not in Libya. Assembled commanders
reaffirmed their support for the work of Special Envoy Gration, but
asked for U.S. assistance in returning all SLA/AW commanders from
various locations in Chad to the field. Commanders reported that
Gaddura asked Abdul Wahid to return to lead unification efforts in
Jebel Marra, but that Abdul Wahid refused. The commanders confirmed
that they remain united, and expected to face a GOS assault in West
Jebel Marra soon. Urging the GOS to de-escalate in West Jebel Marra
would buy Gaddura time; and assisting in reuniting SLA leaders would
give him the political space to maneuver past Abdul Wahid.
Gaddura's goals remain rebel unification and a peace deal. Given
that they coincide so closely with U.S. interests in Sudan, support
for Gaddura could further the effort for peace in Darfur. End

Gaddura: Unify Rebels In "Liberated Areas"

2. (SBU) SLA/AW General Commander Abdelgadir Abdelrahman (Gaddura)
told poloff and UN representatives on October 22 that he supports
rebel unification efforts, and extended an invitation to U.S.
Special Envoy General Scott Gration to return to Jebel Marra. In a
tightly-choreographed meeting at their headquarters in Deribat in
East Jebel Marra, Gaddura and acting SLA/AW Chief of Staff Abdalla
Bakr rejected the legitimacy of any conference outside of Darfur,
adding that the international community must be aware that the
"liberated areas" of SLA/AW are the only appropriate location for a
comprehensive unification conference. They flatly declined to
participate in a unification conference anywhere in Libya. "We will
not unify with people who are not on the ground," Gaddura said.

3. (SBU) Gaddura thanked the SE for his efforts following their
first meeting on April 5, 2009, in pushing for rebel unification.
He asked that in dealing with the Government of Sudan (GOS), SE
Gration be as neutral as possible, and continue to support the
humanitarian effort in Darfur. Abdalla Bakr, clearly speaking at
the behest of Gaddura, said that the movement was concerned that the
United States intended to drop Sudan from the State Sponsors of
Terrorism list, and improve relations with the GOS without any
change in the situation on the ground in Darfur. "We are Sudanese,
and for Gration to succeed, he needs to meet us, share ideas and
plan together," Abdalla Bakr said.

Return Stranded Commanders from Chad to Sudan

4. (SBU) Gaddura's most pressing concern remains the return of
SLA/AW commanders from N'Djamena to the field. Stranded in the
Chadian capital since May, the commanders represent both field and
organizational strength for the movement. Gaddura stressed that no
wider SLA unification could take place until he had reunited the men
under his command. (Note: Representatives from UNAMID noted that
the UN could arrange transport for the commanders if the
international community could persuade the GOS to permit the men to
return. End note.)

JEM Holding SLA/AW Chief of Staff

5. (SBU) In addition to the return of the commanders from N'Djamena,
Gaddura also asked that the international community intervene to
arrange the release of SLA/AW Chief of Staff Yusuf Karjakola.
SLA/AW commanders believe Khalil Ibrahim's Justice and Equality
Movement (JEM) is currently holding Karjakola hostage at their base
in Umm Jaras, in eastern Chad. (Note: Karjakola is a close ally of
Gaddura, and he is frequently credited with maintaining the unity of
SLA/AW in the field. End note.) Although the assembled rebels were
tight-lipped about how Karjakola and 34 other SLA fighters fell into
JEM's hands, UN officials said they believe that SLA/AW probably
contacted JEM to assist in transport across the Chad-Sudan border.
Given that the rebels presumably are still in JEM custody, the deal
must have collapsed. (Note: Gaddura's statement of October 20
acknowledges a degree of cooperation between JEM and SLA/AW, before
rejecting it. End note.) Three other rebel leaders told poloff that
they had successfully traveled from N'Djamena to Jebel Marra earlier
in October, but they dressed as civilians and carried no weapons
with them.

KHARTOUM 00001208 002 OF 002

Commanders Claim SLA/AW United

6. (SBU) All of the commanders stressed that their movement remains
united. But in response to a pointed question over internal
division in SLA/AW, one young man spoke through his camouflaged
headdress to reiterate the structured ranks of the commanders below
Abdul Wahid. That remained, however, the only mention in the 90
minute-long meeting of the movement's Paris-based leader. Speaking
privately with poloff following the meeting, Abdalla Bakr said that
Gaddura had spoken with Abdul Wahid within the last week. Gaddura
reportedly asked Abdul Wahid to return to Jebel Marra to preside
over SLA unification within the "liberated areas," but Abdul Wahid
flatly refused his entreaties.

SAF Ready to Strike Jebel Marra

7. (SBU) SLA/AW commanders confirmed UN reports (Septel) that the
GOS appears to be readying an offensive into West Jebel Marra.
According to Abdalla Bakr, SLA/AW commanders in the area near
Sartony noticed significant Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) mobilization
and overhead flights on October 19. In response, Gaddura sent "many
men" in that direction, and although the situation was quiet on
October 22, the commanders said they were prepared for the situation
to escalate.

UNAMID Blamed for IDP Camp Insecurity

8. (SBU) The October 22 meeting represented the first high-level
meeting since April between representatives from the United
Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and Gaddura. The
SLA/AW commanders heaped blame on the mission for overseeing a
decline of security in the camps of Darfur's internally displaced
persons (IDPs). Abdalla Bakr openly criticized UN leadership,
saying "It is not true that the Sudanese military operations in
Darfur are finished, as Adada said. Until now, we do not know the
positive military role of the peacekeepers." However, the
commanders said they welcomed future visits by UNAMID and
representatives of the diplomatic missions in Khartoum.

9. (SBU) Comment: The General Commander has, from the beginning,
consistently taken the position that SLA should reunite in the
liberated areas, and then negotiate for a peace deal. Still
operational after five years of intermittent war, Gaddura has
reached out to the international community in a show of Darfur
realpolitik. Still tethered to the absent Abdul Wahid, Gaddura is
facing a GOS advance on his western flank with key SLA/AW commanders
unable to return to their mountain stronghold. Urging the GOS to
de-escalate in West Jebel Marra would buy Gaddura time; and
assisting in reuniting SLA leaders would give him the political
space to maneuver past Abdul Wahid. Gaddura's goals remain rebel
unification and a peace deal. Given that they coincide so closely
with U.S. interests in Sudan, support for Gaddura could further the
effort for peace in Darfur.


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