Cablegate: U.S. Special Envoy Gration Assesses Abyei Tensions

DE RUEHKH #1344/01 3351144
O 011144Z DEC 09




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: U.S. Special Envoy Gration Assesses Abyei Tensions


1. (SBU) Summary: On November 19, US Special Envoy to Sudan (SE)
General Scott Gration traveled to Abyei and to Muglad, Southern
Kordofan, to assess implementation of the Comprehensive Peace
Agreement (CPA) and the security situation in and around Abyei. In
Abyei town, the Deputy Administrator described financial challenges
and the Abyei Boundary Demarcation Committee noted halting progress
and significant security concerns from Misseriya tribesmen on and
near the Abyei boundary. Joint Integrated Unit (JIU) commander
Colonel Abu Salah downplayed security concerns while Joint
Integrated Police Unit (JIPU) commander Colonel Mohamed Abdel Gadir
noted that the Misseriya migration is the greatest security threat
to Abyei. In Muglad, Misseriya tribal leaders unanimously and
categorically rejected the Abyei decision of the Permanent Court of
Arbitration (PCA), Abyei boundary demarcation, and international
interference in the matter. SE Gration's visit to the region
highlighted why the Abyei region remains the most contentious in
Sudan. End summary.

Deputy Administrator Describes Challenges

2. (SBU) Deputy Abyei Administrator Rahama Abdul Rahman al Nour, a
Misseriya from the National Congress Party, described co-existence
conferences that included both the Ngok Dinka and the Misseriya and
said that the situation in Abyei was peaceful. He lamented the lack
of development and social organization and said that the Ministry of
Finance had not yet transferred the two percent of oil revenues owed
the Ngok Dinka, a total of 35 million Sudanese pounds. He expressed
gratitude for US funding of various social and developmental
initiatives in the area. In response to SE Gration's query about
formation of a joint task force to explain to all parties the
Permanent Court of Arbitration decision on Abyei boundaries and
access rights, Rahama admitted that this was not yet in place. On
the issue of voter registration, he explained that Abyei did not
have its own electoral commission and depended upon the Warrap to
register in the southern part of Abyei, and a commission from
Southern Kordofan in the north.

Demarcation Committee Laments Insecurity

3. (SBU) SE Gration met with Kuwal Beyong, Deputy Chair of the
Abyei Demarcation Committee (SPLM) and two of his SPLM colleagues in
Abyei town. Beyong opened by complaining that the census figures in
Abyei were inaccurate and that voter registration was going slowly
and had been manipulated in the northern part of Abyei. Turning to
the subject at hand, the border committee members stated that they
had made limited progress demarcating Abyei's western and eastern
boundaries, but lamented that insecurity is impeding their ability
to demarcate the northern boundary (Ref A, B and C). They cited an
incident in which a Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) unit stopped their work
in the eastern part of the northern boundary near the Heglig oil
field (Ref D) and refused them permission to leave the main road.
They also claimed that Misseriya militias and Popular Defense Force
troops opposed to demarcation are stationed along the central and
western portion of the northern boundary.

4. (SBU) Beyong confirmed that the Government of National Unity
(GoNU) had provided two helicopters to facilitate demarcation and
that the demarcation team had installed six marking poles out of the
total of 28 that are to be located approximately ten kilometers
apart along the 242-kilometer long East-North-West boundaries. The
team had installed marking poles on the southern end of the east and
west boundaries, but none of the 17 markers planned for the northern
border, including the crucial markers that identify the corners, was
yet in place because of security concerns. Beyong complained the
Misseriya militias seriously outnumbered the team's JIU protection
force, which was suspect anyway because half of the force consisted
of Misseriya tribesmen of uncertain loyalty. He concluded by noting
that GoNU Presidential Advisor Idriss had not yet agreed with
Government of Southern Sudan Vice President Machar and Minister
Biong to form the badly needed Oversight Committee.

JIU Commander Confident of Security

5. (SBU) SE Gration next traveled to JIU headquarters in Abyei town
to meet Colonel Abu Salah, who had a much rosier view of things.
Colonel Salah explained that the JIU was fully integrated, and was a
model for Sudan. Salah assured SE Gration that security is in place

KHARTOUM 00001344 002 OF 002

in Abyei and that the JIUs are protecting the Abyei boundary
demarcation committee. When pressed for an explanation as to why
the demarcation team feels impeded in its work, Salah replied that
he has not seen any obstacles to demarcation. Salah admitted that
some Misseriya are gathering along the northern boundary, but noted
that six demarcation poles have been successfully installed. When
SE Gration asked if there were problems with installation of the
other markers, Salah initially stated that it was the UNMIS
responsibility to protect the demarcation team outside of populated
areas, then immediately reversed himself.

JIPU Commander: Migration Largest Concern

6. (SBU) In a visit to JIPU headquarters, JIPU commander Colonel
Mohamed Abdel Gadir told SE Gration that the largest security
concern in Abyei is the approaching Misseriya migration. Gadir said
that the JIPU, like the JIU, is composed of both Dinka and
Misseriya. Gadir noted that the JIPU faces financial constraints
and that some JIPU officers remain in Khartoum. Gadir stated that
the JIPU coordinates its security activities with the JIUs through
the Abyei Security Committee.

Misseriya Leaders Reject PCA Decision

7. (SBU) In a November 19 meeting with SE Gration, Misseriya leaders
in Muglad unanimously and categorically rejected the PCA's ruling
defining the boundaries of the Abyei Special Administrative
District. Over one hundred Misseriya tribal leaders gathered to
express their views to SE Gration, through four pre-selected
speakers. Each speaker noted that the Misseriya want peace, but
then expressed the view that the PCA decision was an unjust taking
of land they consider their own, without their consent or
involvement. The speakers vigorously rejected the idea that Abyei
boundaries other than the one to the west should be demarcated in
any fashion and they insisted that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement
granted citizenship rights to both the Ngok and Misseriya. They
also rejected outside interference and stated that the Misseriya and
Ngok Dinka tribal leaders could work out grazing rights and other
issues on their own, as they had for many years. Speakers
complained of international bias favoring the Ngok Dinka and said
that they do not receive equivalent development aid.

8. (SBU) Comment. This year's migration of the Misseriya into Abyei
is already in full swing. The migration must go smoothly if peace
is to prevail along Sudan's least stable fault line. If the
migration is peaceful, local tensions might be reduced, perhaps
giving political actors more leeway for compromise. It is unclear,
however, the extent to which political actors are motivated by local
concerns, or are in fact using local concerns as an excuse while
pursuing control over the land and energy resources of Abyei. End


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