US embassy cable - 05NDJAMENA405

CHAD'S CHANGING TACTICS ON DARFUR

Identifier: 05NDJAMENA405
Wikileaks: View 05NDJAMENA405 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Ndjamena
Created: 2005-03-17 13:57:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL PREF PHUM CD SU Darfur Policy and Rebels
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.


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FM AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 1154
INFO AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
DARFUR COLLECTIVE
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 
USLO TRIPOLI 
USMISSION GENEVA 
C O N F I D E N T I A L  NDJAMENA 000405 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR AF, AF/C, AF/SPG, PRM, USAID/OTI; LONDON AND 
PARIS FOR AFRICAWATCHERS; GENEVA FOR CAMPBELL, 
ADDIS/NAIROBI/KAMPALA FOR REFCOORDS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/16/2014 
TAGS: PREL, PREF, PHUM, CD, SU, Darfur Policy and Rebels 
SUBJECT: CHAD'S CHANGING TACTICS ON DARFUR 
 
Classified By: Political/Economic Officer Kathleen FitzGibbon for reaso 
ns 1.4 (b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C)  Summary: Chadian President Idriss Deby's latest move 
to break the current impasse in Darfur involves working with 
the Sudan Liberation Movement.  Currently, the Chadian 
Government is hosting a number of leaders and field 
commanders from the SLM in N'Djamena for discussions about 
the movement's leadership and organizational problems.  This 
change in tactics represents a recognition that other 
approaches, such as the creation of an alternative rebel 
movement, have failed.  SLM members here in N'Djamena are 
cautious because Deby's objectives are not clear and he 
remains susceptible to manipulation from Khartoum. 
Non-Zaghawa members of the SLM view the discussions as an 
effort by the Chadian Government to back SLM's Zaghawa 
leadership.  Still others charge that Deby is trying to coopt 
malleable SLM leaders to divide and weaken the movement.  End 
Summary. 
 
- - - - - - - - - - 
INVITATION TO CHAD 
- - - - - - - - - - 
 
2.  (C)  After the February 16-17 Joint Commission meeting, 
President Idriss Deby invited Sudan Liberation Movement 
leaders and members to discuss SLM's leadership and 
organizational problems.  According to Dr. Sharif Harir, the 
Chadians apparently want to repair strained relations with 
the SLM.  Harir arrived three weeks ago.  He said the 
Chadians invited Mini Minawi and Abdelwahid Nour at least two 
or three times.  Field commanders, mostly Fur, have been in 
N'Djamena for over a week.  The assembled members of the SLM 
in N'Djamena were welcomed by President Deby on March 11. 
Deby told the SLM members that he wanted to improve his 
government's strained relations with the SLM and help the 
movement better organize itself as an institution.  Harir 
said that the consultations were also aimed at selecting a 
negotiating team and SLM's goals for the Abuja talks.  SLM 
Chairman Abdelwahid Nour is in Libya and General Secretary 
Mini Minawi is in Rome.  (Comment: Mini fears coming to 
N'Djamena and Abdelwahid Nour is awaiting a report from his 
field commanders already in N'Djamena.  End Comment.) 
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
SLM CHAIRMAN ALLEGES CHADIAN DIRTY TRICKS 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
 
3.  (C) On March 9, SLM Chairman Abdelwahid Nour sent the 
Ambassador a fax and called P/E officer regarding the 
well-being of his field commanders in N'Djamena who he 
claimed were being detained and possibly beaten by Chadian 
security agents.  The fax also alleged that the Chadian 
Government lured his field commanders to N'Djamena by saying 
that Abdelwahid was on his way to Chad.  Abdelwahid also told 
P/E officer that he believes the Chadian Government is 
attempting to pay off some of his commanders to overthrow him 
as SLM's leader.  He requested that the U.S. Embassy check 
into the safety of Ahmed Kubur, Sulieman Marajan, Dr. Saleh, 
and Mohammed Harin. 
 
4.  (C) P/E officer met several times with a group of Fur 
members of SLM in N'Djamena in an effort to locate the "Fur 
four".  They did not know the whereabouts of the four 
commanders mentioned in Abdelwahid's fax and were concerned 
because they had heard rumors that some of the commanders 
were being badly treated.  Initially, SLM's Joint Commission 
representative based in N'Djamena, Adam Shogar, told P/E 
officer that they were at a Chadian Government guesthouse 
under "tight security" on March 10.  Chad Mediation Team 
members General Mahamat Ali and Presidential Advisor Allam-mi 
were surprised by P/E officer's request to see the four 
commanders and asked if the U.S. thought the commanders had 
been thrown in jail.  P/E officer insisted and Ali and 
Allam-mi relented, giving "permission" to visit the 
guesthouse to see that the Fur commanders are being "well 
cared for".  Arrangements are being made for the contact. 
 
5.  (C) The claims of Abdelwahid and others that Chad is 
attempting to manipulate the SLM's leadership appear to be 
supported by recent activities in Chad.  For example, the 
separation of the four Fur commanders from the other Fur SLM 
members and the evasive behavior of the Chadians and Shogar 
over the location of the field commanders.  Dandjo members of 
SLM informed P/E officer that the Chadians are coopting SLM's 
Zaghawa members and key Fur commanders to remove Abdelwahid 
from SLM's leadership.  During several recent discussions, 
 
Harir and Shogar floated a number of ideas that we had 
previously heard from the Chadian Government, including the 
idea of a safehaven zone for Sudanese refugees inside Sudan. 
P/E officer quickly discredited the idea.  Sudanese money-man 
Hassan Birgo's presence in N'Djamena is also likely related 
to the current discussions over SLM leadership issues.  Adam 
Shogar, without transport or money for transport or Thuraya 
cards for a year, now has access to car. 
 
- - - - - - - - 
JETTISONING JEM 
- - - - - - - - 
 
6.  (C) The Government of Chad has completely written off the 
Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and ignored their request 
to hold an "urgent" Joint Commission meeting.  JEM's Joint 
Commission members are in London and Libya.  Ahmed Lissan 
Tugod has called P/E officer, SLM members in Chad, and the 
Chad mediators regarding various communiques.  He also 
informed the Chadians that the JEM is pulling its members 
from the Cease-fire Commission.  (Note: It is not clear if 
this has happened.  End Note.)  The Chadian Government makes 
no secret about it dislike for JEM's leadership and its 
support for the National Movement for Reform and Development 
(NMRD) as an attempt to split and weaken JEM.  Over the past 
weeks, there have been signs that the Chadian Government also 
realizes that the NMRD option has outlived its utility and 
may not have been money well-spent.  In addition, the 
Sudanese refugees in camps in Chad were not interested in 
taking advantage of the idea of "safehaven zones" inside 
Sudan.  In a telling comment, Ali told P/E officer on March 
14 that the NMRD is finished. 
 
7.  (C) The Chadians believe that divisions over Dr. Khalil 
Ibrahim's Islamic agenda and ties to Turabi are becoming more 
pronounced and harder to deny.  Ali and Harir speculate that 
fired field commander Mohammed Saleh and other secular 
members of JEM will eventually join ranks with SLM. 
(Comment: Upon receiving news of his dismissal prior to his 
return to the field, Saleh said he would be mobilizing 
like-minded commanders that could resist Khalil's money to 
leave JEM.  End Comment.) 
 
8.  (C) Saleh also told P/E officer that JEM does not have 
enough positions on the ground to verify and can no longer 
deny its connections to Turabi after Khalil gave orders to 
field commanders to assist in the failed coup attempt in 
Sudan.  Saleh also alleged JEM listed Turabi and/or his 
associates as JEM political prisoners.  N'Djamena-based and 
visiting SLM members share Ali, and Allam-mi's conviction 
that JEM's continued inflexibility and habit of negotiating 
by communique from Asmara will ultimately undermine the 
prospects of a joint-negotiating position with SLM. 
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - 
CHAD'S CURRENT GAME PLAN 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - 
 
9.  (C) Harir explained that some SLM members are willing to 
take the risk of talking with the Chadians because a better 
working relationship is in the interest of longstanding 
familial ties.  However, Harir said SLM is being cautious 
because of concerns about Deby's vulnerability to the 
Government of Sudan's influence.  First, Deby is genuinely 
preoccupied with the possibility of Sudanese support for an 
Arab, Islamic government in N'Djamena.  Deby knows that 
leadership changes in Chad begin in Darfur.  As Army Chief, 
Deby helped put Hissein Habre into power in 1982 from Darfur, 
where he took refuge, and in 1990, when Deby himself came to 
power.  Second, Chadian authorities are concerned about 
Chadian rebel groups located inside Sudan and jandjaweed 
members who are Chadian and who have been well-armed by 
Sudanese officials.  Finally, according to Harir, even if 
Deby takes a position contrary to Khartoum's wishes, his 
position can easily be undermined by payoffs to those under 
the President.  Deby also may be turning to the SLM for 
domestic reasons.  He may be giving in to pressure from 
family members to provide support for the SLM, especially 
since the public referendum on removing term limits is coming 
up in June. 
 
- - - - 
COMMENT 
- - - - 
 
8.  (C)  Chadian authorities recognize that SLM's leadership 
and organizational issues are hampering the peace process. 
 
Chadian officials appear to want a stronger, better organized 
SLM that can be manipulated and that can diminish the power 
of leaders, such as Abdelwahid, whom they as an obstacle to a 
peace settlement.  Also, the Chadians may calculate that the 
SLM needs to be able to better able to articulate its 
political positions and implement its commitments.  SLM could 
also diminish JEM's presence and positions in the talks if it 
is better organized.  The key problem remains Chad's ulterior 
motives, which SLM rightfully does not trust.  If Chad 
divides SLM's leadership and coopts Zaghawa members, it then 
alienates other ethnic groups, weakening the movement and its 
ability to negotiate.  This tactic would be short-sighted. 
SLM members point out that it is worth talking to the 
Chadians because Deby has enough at stake in the situation 
and he will not let Chad be sidelined.  In addition, the SLM 
is learning more about Chadian motives as the discussions 
progress. 
 
9.  (C) Khartoum and Tripoli Minimize Considered. 
CASEBEER 
 
 
NNNN 

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