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Cablegate: Sla/Aw Up in Arms After Long Respite

VZCZCXRO8787
OO RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #1357/01 3401018
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 061018Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4828
INFO RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO PRIORITY 0478
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI PRIORITY 0386
RUEHNJ/AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA PRIORITY 0134
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001357

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: MOPS PGOV PHUM PINR PREF KPKO AU SU

SUBJECT: SLA/AW UP IN ARMS AFTER LONG RESPITE

KHARTOUM 00001357 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The central region of Darfur known as Jebel Marra
remains unstable following internal conflict among rebels commanders
aligned with Sudanese Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW). SLA/AW
rebels in far northeast North Darfur staged two successful attacks
in November on Government of Sudan (GOS) forces. The GOS has
responded by arresting SLA/AW sympathizers in the area and moving a
column of Chadian rebels to Mellit, approximately 50 km northeast of
El Fasher. UN sources dismissed as false various allegations that
have appeared on the website Sudantribune.com in recent days. End
summary.

--------------------------
JEBEL MARRA STILL UNSTABLE
--------------------------

2. (SBU) The SLA/AW-held region of Jebel Marra remains unstable
following an internal firefight among local commanders on November
15. According to numerous sources, including SLA/AW General
Commander Abdelrahman Abdelgaddur Adam (Gaddura), dissension within
the ranks over the rebel movement's stance towards reunification
efforts erupted into open conflict. Commanders loyal to Abdul Wahid
opposed rebel unification efforts, and captured key commander
Abdulla Bakr with the intent to detain him indefinitely. In
reaction, Gaddura and other high-ranking commanders fled the rebel
stronghold of Deribat to drum up support in other areas of the
mountainous region in central Darfur. On November 19, Gaddura
reported that areas near Deribat were still unstable, and advised
against UN aircraft flying to the area. Independent sources on the
ground in Deribat confirmed that local SLA/AW commanders had
positioned weaponry facing the town's helipad during the last two
weeks of November.

3. (SBU) On December 2, Gaddura successfully negotiated for the
release of Abdalla Bakr and several other commanders. Bakr told
emboff by satphone that he had returned to Deribat, but negotiations
were still ongoing for Gaddura to return to the town, regarded as
the center of SLA/AW control in Jebel Marra. Bakr noted that he was
hopeful that the situation would resolve itself "soon," but was not
able to elaborate on how local commanders intended to resolve the
internal conflict between pro-Abdul Wahid forces and the
pro-unification forces of Gaddura.

--------------------------------
TENSIONS HIGH IN MALHA AFTER SLA/AW ATTACKS
--------------------------------

4. (SBU) SLA/AW-aligned forces conducted two successful assaults
against GOS Central Reserve Police (CRP) patrols northeast of El
Fasher in November. On November 18, a Sudan Armed Forces (SAF)
convoy comprised of seven Land Cruisers and one truck traveled from
El Fasher to Malha and came under attack in the Khurbateekh valley,
between Sayeh and Malha, according to UN and rebel sources. SLA/AW
Commander Suleiman Marjan took credit for the attack, and told
emboff that his forces again attacked GOS forces near the area of
Mau on November 20-21. Marjan claimed his forces, working in
collaboration with the forces of Dr. Sali Adam Ishaq of SLA/Juba
Unity, dispersed the column of GOS troops and captured significant
military hardware. In addition, Marjan claimed that his forces
captured 70 soldiers, most of whom belonged to (Marjan's own) Meidob
tribe. "We knew most of those we captured, and many of them even
have brothers fighting on our side," he stated. "We know that the
government recruited them into the Central Reserve Police to divide
the Meidob tribe, so we later released them." Sudanese Armed Forces
(SAF) officials told UNAMID's Joint Mission Analysis Center (JMAC)
that Marjan's attack killed 29 SAF soldiers, a figure which Marjan
denied.

5. (SBU) GOS retaliation for the attacks came swiftly. According to
UN sources, on November 25 approximately 12 vehicles from the SAF
garrison in Malha traveled to the town of El Hara (northeast of
Malha) and searched for persons affiliated with SLA/AW. Witness
reported to UN sources that the SAF employed intimidation tactics,
beating civilians in the market place and arresting three people
alleged to be SLA/AW supporters. At least one person had to be
taken to the Malha clinic for treatment as result of the beatings by
the SAF. The same convoy of 12 SAF vehicles continued on to Jebel
Eisa, a village northwest of Malha and the stronghold of Marjan's
faction, where SAF followed a similar procedure while in search of
SLA/AW personnel or supporters. Sources in Malha town told emboff
that the raids on El Hara and Jebel Eisa were perpetrated by the GOS
military as well as elements of the National Intelligence and

KHARTOUM 00001357 002.2 OF 002


Security Services (NISS) and Arab militia. They claimed the
searches were accompanied by extensive looting of properties and
cash, and that ten persons were arrested on charges of providing
intelligence to rebel groups as well as encouraging local people not
to participate in voter registration. The ten arrested are
reportedly being detained by NISS in Malha.

6. (SBU) JMAC and rebel sources reported on December 2 that a large
number of Chadian Armed Opposition Group (CAOG) forces had moved to
Mellit, the GOS stronghold northeast of El Fasher. (Note: Although
based in the areas northwest of Kutum since mid-2009, the CAOGs
remain a highly mobile group. End note.) By the morning of
December 3, there were no clashes reported between SLA/AW rebels and
CAOGs under the control of SAF.

-------------------------------------------
UNAMID DISMISSES ALLEGATION OF KILLINGS IN WEST DARFUR
-------------------------------------------

7. (SBU) On November 29, a story appeared on Sudantribune.com
reporting the killings of seven internally displaced persons (IDPs)
in Deliej IDP camp, approximately 50 km southwest of Zalingei. The
story alleged that GOS security forces had killed the IDPs, and that
UNAMID peacekeepers "were present in the area but did not intervene"
to prevent the killing. (Note: The story was attributed to a source
who has frequently proven to be unreliable, the self-proclaimed
"Spokesman of Darfuri IDPs" Hussain Abu Sharati. End Note.) On
December 1, UNAMID dismissed the allegations as false, noting that
"UNAMID investigated the allegations, meeting with IDPs and the
Umdahs of Deleij camp who assured UNAMID that no killings took place
as reported by the ST and that the voters' registration process in
the area was concluded with no problems."

8. (SBU) Though the allegations of killings of IDPs in Deleij camp
proved to be false, UN sources reported an incident took place in
Deleij on November 22 in which three Arab militiamen got drunk in
the camp's market and proceeded to Haya Salaam IDP camp, where the
intoxicated militiamen started shooting indiscriminately. The IDPs
overpowered them and killed one, and subsequently paid a blood money
tribune to the Arab tribe for the killing. Following this incident,
a UN patrol observed seven SUVs and a large truck with approximately
60 uniformed, armed men moving towards Deleij. Sources described
the situation there as an uneasy calm.

------------------------------------------
ALLEGED FIGHTING IN JEBEL MARRA ALSO UNSUBSTANTIATED
------------------------------------------

9. (SBU) On December 1, Haroun Abdel Karim, identifying himself as a
commander of SLA/AW, told Sudan Tribune that rebel forces had
repelled a GOS attack near Jiba in Jebel Marra and killed five
government soldiers. Emboff spoke with several SLA/AW commanders in
Jebel Marra who were not familiar with the location "Jiba" nor did
they affirm any recent fighting had taken place. (Note: Haroun
Abdel Karim is not a SLA/AW commander known to UNAMID or embassy
staff. End note.) JMAC was similarly unaware of any fighting
between the GOS and SLA/AW in Jebel Marra in recent days.

10. (SBU) Comment: Following nine months of somnolence, the forces
of SLA/AW awoke in November. Internecine fighting in Jebel Marra
over loyalty to Abdul Wahid has left his movement in disarray.
Although it weakened the command control of Gaddura, the internal
struggle has strengthened the hand of the movement's Parisian
leader. The successful attacks by Suleiman Marjan in the far north
of North Darfur point to weakened SAF defenses. Reports regarding
the movement of CAOGs to Mellit are disturbing, and may indicate a
further escalation of GOS-rebel hostilities. The next week will
show whether the CAOGs will become the SAF's go-to cavalry for
ground attacks against a well-supplied rebel force, or whether their
movement represents a permanent relocation of the CAOG from
northwest of Kutum to the Meidob heartland in far north North
Darfur. End comment.

WHITEHEAD

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