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Khartoum and the Failure of Arab Intercession - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Sudan’s Chief of Intelligence [Salah Gosh, the head of Sudan’s National Security and Intelligence Service] responded to Qatari mediation [for President Omar Al-Bashir] with a statement in which he threatened to cut-off the hands, feet, and heads, of anyone who attempts to support the International Criminal Court [ICC].

Is it reasonable to use such intimidating tactics, or does this illustrate to the world the Sudanese regimes implication, to the point that a warrant for the President himself is expected to be issued by the International Criminal Court under Chapter VII of the UN charter?

The Security Chief in Khartoum did not ask for the support of the Sudanese citizens, rather he threatened them with death, certain that the Sudanese citizens will back down, not realizing that the danger has become international. The progression of the ICC case against Al-Bashir regarding Darfur occurred in a classic manner. The initial threat of charges being brought [against the President] was met with derision and ridicule; following this the government responded with insults. When it became clear that the case was more serious than they thought, Sudan went throughout the region demanding intercession to prevent this. Finally realism kicked in to the point that Sudanese demands for prevention became pleas for the postponement for one year; however the statement issued by the Sudanese Security Chief sends a different message to the world.

And so Arab intercession failed; and the ICC has announced that it will make its decision regarding the issuance of a warrant for President Al-Bashir early next month. And so will Al-Bashir’s regime stop making mistakes, and try – just once- to understand the depth of the mire that it has found itself in, instead of calling for mediation and promises, all of which are a mirage?

The puzzling question is; why was the Sudanese regime unable to foresee this disaster, in spite of the many warnings and cautions it received from all over the world?

The Sudanese regime extended the window of opportunity for the murder and destruction that was occurring in Darfur for more than two years. Governments from all over the world called for Khartoum to intervene and put a stop to this massacre, yet the Sudanese government refused to do so. Certainly the government did not benefit from the crimes that took place in this isolated region, other than by the small gains it made by supporting one group against another. This is something that the Sudanese government should not have been involved in from the beginning. The problem [in Darfur] multiplied when the Sudanese government balked at allowing an international force entry [into Sudan] to protect the civilian population. Yet when the bodies piled up, and the death-toll reached almost 200,000, it became clear that Khartoum would be targeted [and blamed for this].

Over the past few months the Sudanese President and his staff have spent a lot of time trying to find an escape route to free themselves from the international mire that they have found themselves trapped in, and which they originally wished to be involved in. I am talking of course about Arab and Islamic summits and conferences, mediation and intercessions. Yet the victims of Darfur are Sudanese Muslims, therefore the Sudanese government cannot use the pretext of blaming this on a Crusader or Western campaign. Indeed it is not just international powers that are calling for Al-Bashir to appear before the ICC, Sheik Hassan Al-Turabi, has also called for this. Sheik Al-Turabi was of course a partner of Al-Bashir, who was later imprisoned by the Sudanese President.

And so Sudan’s attempts to turn the prosecution of its President into an Arab or Islamic issue will fail. Just as the Sudanese attempts to link the Palestinian Cause and the Israeli crimes to this case failed, by claiming that Sudan is not the only country in the region to be the setting of [such] crimes. Even though intercession failed, hope has evaporated, and a likely court date is fast approaching, we fear that the Sudanese regime will transfer its conflict once more into the interior in the belief that this will make the ICC-case more difficult [to prosecute].

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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