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Sudan Arrest Warrant "Well-Oiled"

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    At the Arab League summit Monday, the UN secretary general condemned Sudan s expulsion of humanitarian aid groups in response to the ICC arrest warrant for
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 6, 2009
      At the Arab League summit Monday, the UN secretary general condemned Sudan's expulsion of humanitarian aid groups in response to the ICC arrest warrant for Bashir.

      Arab leaders embrace Sudan's indicted president
      By Liam Stack
      The Christian Science Monitor
      March 30, 2009

      Cairo - On Sunday Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir strode off his airplane and onto a red carpet at the airport in Doha, greeted with a kiss by the tiny kingdom's emir as he arrived for a two-day Arab League summit dedicated to strengthening Arab unity.

      Mr. Bashir has been a busy man since his indictment for seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on March 4. His visit to Qatar's capital is the fourth time in two weeks that he has defied the standing international warrant for his arrest, coming after visits to the neighboring countries of Eritrea, Egypt, and Libya.

      Bashir is the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the ICC, but nonetheless has enjoyed an outpouring of support from Arab and African leaders. Their hostile reaction to the indictment of one of their own, say diplomats and analysts, is driven by a combination of concern for the indictment's consequences for Sudan's stability, resentment of the selective precedent it sets, and worries about national sovereignty.

      "The fact that other countries, including Israel, have not been subjected to this kind of decision is a natural source of opposition for most ¨C but not all ¨C Arab countries," says Khalid Medani, a political scientist at McGill University in Montreal. For the Arab League and the African Union, the issue is first and foremost about protecting their sovereignty.

      "The issue of national sovereignty is a key principle of post-colonial states in general," he says.

      At the opening of the summit Monday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon sharply condemned Sudan's expulsion of humanitarian aid groups in response to the arrest warrant, and said that "we must all be committed" to "peace and justice," according to the Associated Press. The UN Security Council asked the ICC to begin the investigation into alleged war crimes in Darfur that led to Bashir's indictment.

      The official line in Arab capitals is that the indictment endangers the stability of Sudan by undermining the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between North and South Sudan, which is of particular interest to Egypt. Gulf states like Qatar also worry that the indictment will scuttle their efforts to broker a peace deal in Darfur, in which they have invested much political capital. Recent talks between Khartoum and Darfur's Justice and Equality Movement, also held in Qatar, ended without a deal.

      Arab and African leaders focused on self-preservation

      The indictment comes six years into a conflict that former US President George W. Bush called "genocide." It has killed up to 300,000 people and left 2.5 million homeless since 2003.

      The 13 aid groups expelled by Bashir hours after the indictment was issued provided food and medicine to more than a million people and were responsible for as much as 50 percent of humanitarian aid in Darfur, says Human Rights Watch.

      Both HRW and the Arab Coalition for Darfur called on the Arab League to push for their readmission to the country, although it is unclear if Arab leaders are interested in championing that cause. Instead, their focus appears to be on self-preservation.

      In a region plagued by human right violations, no Arab or African leader wants to set the precedent of one of their own being indicted, says Sondra Hale, a UCLA professor who has studied Sudan and Eritrea for 47 years.

      "With regard to Eritrea, it has been one of the most independent and isolated of all African countries and the idea of any international body imposing a law on them would be anathema," she says, "Eritrean leaders are also vulnerable to charges of violations of human rights for jailing and persecuting the opposition for many years."

      Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told reporters in Doha on Sunday that "what is required from all of us is to stand with our brothers in Sudan and its leadership in order to prevent dangers that affect our collective security." On the same day, Arab League diplomats endorsed the text of a resolution rejecting the ICC indictment.

      "The leaders reject attempts to politicize the principles of international justice and using them to undermine the sovereignty, unity and stability, of Sudan," said the draft resolution, according to The Associated Press.

      Meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 5, the African Union also affirmed a resolution "expressing deep concern" over the indictment, saying it would hinder efforts to negotiate peace in Darfur. The AU called on the UN to "assume its responsibilities by deferring the process initiated by the ICC."

      The ICC can defer a case at the request of the Security Council, though it has never done so. The court relies on its member states to make arrests. None of the states Bashir has visited are party to the court's founding treaty, making it unlikely that he will be put on trial.

      Sudan appears confident that the support of its neighbors will discourage the international community from pursuing its prosecution of Bashir.

      "The allegations at the ICC have nothing to do with reality, and we will use our friends in the United Nations to stop them," says Abdel Malik Al Naiem, spokesman for the Sudanese Embassy in Cairo.
      He says that Sudan and Egypt "will be going forward hand-in-hand" on that effort.

      Sudan's stability a key issue

      But Arab states have little particular interest in Omar al-Bashir per se, says Hani Raslan, the head of the Sudan Studies Unit at the Ahram Center, a Cairo think tank. Rather, they are concerned that the indictment could threaten the viability of Sudan as a state.

      "Countries like Egypt and other Arab countries support Sudan on the question of the ICC because it is very dangerous to the state of Sudan itself, not just the regime of President al-Bashir," he says, "Now that there is peace between the North and the South, Egypt does not want to see a return to a larger civil war."

      Ms. Hale also says that the recent revelation that Israel launched air strikes in Sudan in January and February against smugglers bringing Iranian weapons from the Horn of Africa to Gaza is "a further complicating factor."

      It allows "the Sudanese state and its supporters to claim conspiracy to undermine the sovereign state," she says.

      For some, the air strikes also highlight the very Sudanese instability that they fear spreading.

      "These shipments are happening through Sudanese territory because the role of the central government is very weak outside of Khartoum and Omdurman," says Nabil Abdel Fattah, Assistant Director of the Ahram Center. "This is a historical fact of the so-called modern state of Sudan."


      Chavez opposes arrest warrant for Bashir

      DOHA, March 31 (Xinhua) ¨C Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez here Tuesday voiced objection to the arrest warrant of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for alleged war crimes in Darfur.

      Upon his arrival at the Doha International Airport to attend the 2nd Arab-South American Summit scheduled for Tuesday, Chavez told reporters that the ICC should be requested to prosecute former U.S. President George W. Bush and Israeli President Shimon Peres, according to Spanish EFE news Agency.

      "Why (the ICC) not order the capture of Bush? Why not order the arrest of the president of Israel?¡± he was quoted as asking.

      Leaders of the 22-member Arab League who held a summit on Monday passed a communiqu¨¦ on rejecting the ICC¡¯s arrest warrant for Bashir.

      Chavez said the ICC ¡°has no power to make a decision against a sitting president, but does so because it is an African country, the third world,¡± said Chavez, whose country is a signatory to the ICC.

      The ICC has requested all its signatory members to arrest Bashir.

      The Second Summit of Arab-South American countries will be held in the afternoon, with the participation of leaders and senior officials from 12 South American countries and 22 Arab states, plus delegates from the Arab League. ¡¡


      Arrest Warrant for Sudan's President is Well Oiled
      Eye on Arab Media
      Jalal Ghazi
      Apr 02, 2009

      Editor's Note: Arab countries are outraged over the International Criminal Court's March 4 arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. According to Arab media, the warrant is motivated by oil, not justice.

      Since the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on March 4, Arab media have played an active role in challenging the court's legitimacy and arguing that it is motivated by the quest for Darfur's untapped oil resources.

      Like many Arab media, Al Majallah, an international news magazine, accused the West (namely, the United States, France and Britain) of creating 'a destructive political storm' against the Sudanese government immediately after it decided to allow Chinese oil companies to look for oil in Darfur. According to Al Majallah, the Sudanese government has entered talks with Chinese oil companies and has been trying to impose its control on the region to prevent rebel groups from sabotaging exploration efforts.

      Rebel leader Suliman Marjan told Al Majallah that the Sudanese government was using heavy weaponry 'to dismantle ambushes that were staged by the rebels who were waiting for Sudanese forces in El Atroun Valley, to prevent them from securing oil areas.' According to Al Majallah, 'The Sudanese government sent 300 armored vehicles so that the Chinese oil companies could go to the far north of Darfur.'

      While the Sudanese government is eager to help Chinese oil companies secure oil rights in Darfur, rebel leaders backed by the United States, France and Britain want to postpone oil exploration in Darfur until a peace deal is reached.

      Al Majallah warned that the tag of war between Western and Chinese companies over Darfur's oil is threatening the unity of Sudan. China and Russia back the central government in Khartoum and support reaching a local solution to the crisis in Darfur. The United States, Britain and France support the rebel groups and insist on resolving the crisis using Western forces such as NATO.

      The Sudanese government fears that the presence of Western forces could eventually lead to the separation of Darfur from Sudan. Al Majallah also holds Western countries partially responsible for the failure of the peace process in Darfur. By supporting the rebels, he says, the West, which is "concerned that they will lose the war in Darfur," is encouraging them to "blackmail the Sudanese government and cause a state of permanent war in the region."

      At least one of the main rebel groups in Darfur, the Justice and Equality Movement, was encouraged by the ICC's decision to reject further negotiation with the Sudanese government. The group, which had agreed to peace talks only one month before, now calls for regime change. According to London-based Asharq Al-Awsat, the Justice and Equality Movement called on the UN Security Council to introduce an "oil for food" program similar to the one that was used in Iraq under former President Saddam Hussein.

      The intended objective of the warrant may have been to undermine the legitimacy of the Sudanese government, but the results were the exact opposite. Since the ICC issued the arrest warrant against al-Bashir, he has gained unprecedented support from Islamic, Arab and African countries. The African Union, Arab League, Organization of the Islamic Conference and many others back Sudan's demand that the ICC arrest warrant be dropped.

      This support does not necessary reflect al-Bashir's popularity. Rather it shows their outrage over what is viewed as the ICC's double standards of justice. Michel Massih, who is leading the Sudanese president's international defense team, told the London-based Arab News Broadcast that the ICC's arrest warrant against al Bashir had its own legal problems. He points out that Article 6 of UN Security Resolution 1593, which authorized the ICC to investigate the situation in Dafur, demands immunity for U.S. officials and citizens being tried by the ICC. This makes the resolution meaningless from a legal standpoint, he argues, because it establishes two standards of justice, one for Americans and another for Sudanese.

      Massih also criticized the way the International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo publicized his accusations against the Sudanese president. Massih, who has been practicing international law for 30 years, told Arab News Broadcast, "I have never heard in my legal career of a chief prosecutor that launches media campaigns against a defendant, regardless of the nature of the charges."

      Arab foreign ministers who met before the Arab League summit in Doha are "urging all Arab countries not to cooperate with the ICC's measures." In defiance of the ICC, Eritrea, Libya, and Egypt invited al-Bashir to their countries, where he received a hero's welcome. The Sudanese president was also invited to attend the Arab League summit in Doha, Qatar.



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