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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06ASMARA787
2006-09-29 09:07:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Asmara
Cable title:  

CONVERSATIONS WITH THE EASTERN FRONT: SEEKING U.S.

Tags:   PREL  EAID  PINR  ER  SU 
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FM AMEMBASSY ASMARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8444
INFO RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 5972
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1211
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 1386
RUEHKH/AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM 0145
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 4639
RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 0206
RUEHNJ/AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA 0226
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 1031
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO 0342
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA
						C O N F I D E N T I A L ASMARA 000787 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

LONDON, PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS
STATE FOR USAID/AF

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/29/2016
TAGS: PREL EAID PINR ER SU
SUBJECT: CONVERSATIONS WITH THE EASTERN FRONT: SEEKING U.S.
ASSISTANCE

REF: ASMARA 757

Classified By: AMB Scott H. DeLisi, for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)



1. (C) Summary: On September 22, Poloff met with the three
Eastern Front leaders, Dr. Amna Dirar, Musa Muhammed Ahmed
and Salim Al-Mabrouk, to discuss the progress of their
GSE-mediated negotiations with the GNU. A final agreement is
reportedly close. Concerns about implementation are now
becoming more important and the eastern leaders are pressing
for a greater USG role. Although we will welcome a
negotiated settlement of differences between the EF and GNU
we remain leery of EF requests that we &witness8 formally
an agreement whose shaping has been less than transparent and
in which we have not played a role. We do believe, however,
that there may be opportunities to support efforts to
implement the agreement and that it would be in our overall
interest to do so. End Summary.

THE EASTERN FRONT RELATIVELY CONTENT


--------------------------




2. (C) In a conversation with the three EF leaders, Mabrouk
was the most outspoken, noting at length how happy he was
with &what we have achieved8. He believes that the EF
discussions were much better handled than those in Abuja and,
when taken collectively with Naivasha and Abuja, the Sudanese
rebel groups had succeeded in &splitting-up8 the NCP by
forcing them to negotiate. When pressed by PolOff to clarify
this point, Mabrouk merely repeated his statement and offered
no further explanation.



3. (C) Mabrouk said he was pleased with the military and
security negotiating committees, work, emphasizing how
important military integration is for the Eastern Front.
Regarding the thorny issue of whether to create one state of
the eastern region the three leaders acknowledged
&differences of opinion8 with the GNU and said that the
Eastern Front will &see what the GNU will offer.8 Dr.
Dirar noted that they anticipate the GNU will refuse to
negotiate on this point but the Eastern Front will continue
to fight for one state, &through elections and political
activities8 if necessary. Overall, the Eastern Front
leaders agreed that getting the GNU to the negotiating table
was a success in itself and marks a beginning, not an end.



4. (C) In a sidebar conversation with Dr. Dirar, Poloff found
her more upbeat than in previous conversations of the past
few weeks and optimistic that an agreement will be signed. By
far the best English speaker and the most educated of the
three Eastern Front leaders, Dr. Dirar often provides the
most realistic perspective of what is happening during the
negotiations. When asked about the previously reported move
by the Eastern Front away from direct negotiations with the
GNU, Dr. Dirar explained &sometimes you need to use indirect

means.8 She added that the GSE mediator forced the issue
with the result that both sides would sit across the table
from each other that afternoon for the first time in 10 days.
She also commented that the Eastern Front supports the idea
of a nationwide conference to be held by the GNU to address
power-sharing in light of what will be three peace agreements
) CPA, DPA and the anticipated agreement with the Eastern
Front.

AND APPEALS FOR GREATER U.S. ROLE


--------------------------





5. (C) All three leaders commented on what they characterized
as limited U.S. support for the Eastern Front in the past and
during the negotiations. All expressed interest in having
America play a greater role in assisting the Eastern Front,
including having the U.S. formally witness the agreement,
preferably as a signatory. Mabrouk commented, &(we did)
this without the support of America, but we are now ready to
have (America,s) participation.8 (Comment: The

Norwegians, who have been far more directly involved in
support of the EF negotiation effort have not/not so far been
asked by the EF to be a signatory. End Comment.)



6. (C) Poloff inquired what the Eastern Front needs to move
forward. First and foremost, the leaders emphasized the
importance of continued food aid in the East, including
assistance to the transient population that frequently
crosses the border from Eastern Sudan into Eritrea.
Secondly, the Eastern Front needs support and assistance in
transitioning from a military movement to a political entity,
and require funding for training of their cadres in the
following areas: building a party structure, financial and
administrative functions, good governance, and media
operations. Thirdly, the Eastern Front needs operational and
logistical support, including money for running offices,
buying furniture and paying for transportation. Finally, all
three agreed that the development fund as proposed by the GNU
will need both international financial augmentation and the
support of development partners.

COMMENT


--------------------------





7. (C) In marked contrast to reftel comments from various
expat Eastern Front advisors, the three EF leaders presented
a united front to Poloff. Although we believe that tensions
do exist between the three given their distinctly different
styles, backgrounds and education levels, those tensions are
unlikely to preclude the conclusion of an agreement in the
current negotiating round. However, although the signing of
an agreement seems imminent, there are still many questions
about how implementation will proceed. The unconfirmed
allegations that Mabrouk and Musa may have been bought off by
the GNU continue to raise concerns that the EF negotiatiors
may have made concessions that undercut the viability and
legitimacy of the pending agreement. Nonetheless, despite
these undercurrents, we believe that an agreementwill be
signed and could provide the basis for measured progress in
eastern Sudan and improved GNU-EF ties.



8. (C) Post would, along with the diplomatic community,
certainly attend any signing ceremony. However, we would not
recommend a formal role as a &witness8 even if asked by all
the parties ) and we doubt such a request will be
forthcoming from either the GNU or the GSE mediator. We do,
however, believe that any support we can offer to the
implementation process, including through capacity building
training for the EF and possible assistance on the food aid
issue, is worth examining carefully. End Comment.
DELISI