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Cablegate: Abyei Jiu Integrated but Ineffective

VZCZCXRO6397
OO RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #1410 3491133
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 151133Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4898
INFO RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001410

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PBTS KDEM KPKO MOPS SU
SUBJECT: ABYEI JIU INTEGRATED BUT INEFFECTIVE

REF: A) KHARTOUM 1135 B) KHARTOUM 1174 C) KHARTOUM 1263

1. (SBU) Summary. On December 8 Poloff met with Colonel Zakaria
Akoi Yak (SPLM), Deputy Commander of the Abyei Joint Integrated Unit
(JIU), who told Poloff that his JIU forces, tasked with providing
security for the Abyei boundary demarcation team, had never been
confronted by Misseriya tribesmen or militia forces. Colonel Yak did
note one incident in which Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) forced the
demarcation team and its JIU protection force to abandon work on the
eastern end of Abyei's northern boundary. Colonel Yak also noted
that, while his JIU is fully integrated, it currently has no
vehicles and almost no radios. Colonel Yak appears well-intentioned
but does not inspire confidence. End Summary.

------------------------------------------
Misseriya Not Threatening Demarcation Team
------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) Colonel Yak told Poloff that Abyei's JIU forces, tasked
with providing security for the Abyei boundary demarcation team, had
never been confronted or threatened by Misseriya tribesmen or
militia forces. (Note: This contradicts repeated statements by Kwol
Biyong (SPLM), Deputy Chair of the Abyei Boundary Demarcation
Committee (Ref A, B, and C). End Note.) When asked why the
demarcation team is unwilling to demarcate Abyei's northern
boundary, Colonel Yak explained that the Misseriya had written a
letter stating that they were opposed to demarcation and that the
demarcation team feels threatened. (Note: Presumably this is a
reference to the October 6 resolutions issued by the Misseriya
conference in opposition to the Permanent Court of Arbitration
decision on Abyei. End Note.) Colonel Yak did, however, note the
presence of significant numbers of armed Misseriya tribesmen and
Popular Defense Forces near Abyei's northern boundary. He stated
that his JIU remained ready and willing to provide protection to the
demarcation team whenever and wherever called upon to do so.

--------------------------------
Confrontation with SAF Confirmed
--------------------------------

3. (SBU) Colonel Yak did note one incident in which the demarcation
team and its JIU protection force was threatened and forced to
abandon work on the eastern end of Abyei's northern boundary by SAF
forces. He stated that in September, SAF forces under the command
of General Ahmed Mohammed El Amin operating out of Heglig oil field
confronted the JIU protection forces with mounted weapons and forced
the JIU protection team to withdraw to Abyei town. (Note: This
incident was reported in local media and confirmed by Biyong. (Ref
B) End Note.)

-------------------------------------------
JIU Integrated, but Technically Ineffective
-------------------------------------------

4. (SBU) Colonel Yak proudly noted that the Abyei JIU is the only
JIU in Sudan that is fully integrated. (Note: This success is a
legacy of Colonel Valentino Tokmac, the effective former Abyei JIU
Commander, whom Colonel Yak replaced in August. End Note.) He
stated that the men live in the same barracks, train together, and
will fight together in a crisis. Colonel Yak did, however, note
numerous hurdles facing the Abyei JIU, including the fact that all
of its vehicles and almost all of its radios are out of service,
creating an almost complete lack of mobility and communications. He
also noted that given the size of the Abyei district, the one
battalion of JIU assigned to secure it is insufficient and said that
he has requested an additional two companies from his commanders to
strengthen the forces in Abyei.

5. (SBU) Comment. The Abyei JIU, with no mobility and limited
communications, is currently ineffective as a military force.
Furthermore, the SAF commander of the JIU was absent from the
meeting, reportedly sick in Khartoum. Colonel Yak's performance in
the meeting did not inspire confidence. He appeared disorganized in
his thoughts and spent uncomfortably long periods leafing through
his notebook trying to find answers to questions asked by Poloff.
Perhaps the best that can currently be said about the Abyei JIU is
that its SAF and Sudan People's Liberation Army components are less
likely to fight each other than they were in 2008. End Comment.

WHITEHEAD

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