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Sarkozy Sells Out Sudan - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Since he took over the French presidency, Nicolas Sarkozy has been portrayed as a man with few principles. Of course, this is something that can be said about many politicians had not the new French president also been shameless as he divorced and got rid of his wife and brought his mistress to the Elysee Palace. This is definitely a personal matter; however, it reflects the character of the new president that succeeded Jacques Chirac, a man who was wiser, firmer, and more patient and whose stands did not change throughout 12 years of his presidency. Under Chirac, the policies, stands, and practices of Paris were clearer.

However, Sarkozy changed his positions several times most recently on Georgia and before that with Syria. He courted Iran although this last change can be acceptable since it is a multifaceted political issue. What is most amazing and objectionable are the remarks attributed to Elysee Palace sources saying that France is prepared to suspend the measures of the International Criminal Court [ICC] against those that are wanted in the issue of Darfur, specifically President Omar al-Bashir, “on condition that Khartoum take a step forward”. Although the Elysee Palace did not specify the nature of this step, the source referred to two wanted Sudanese nationals – the minister of state in the Ministry for Humanitarian Affairs and the commander of the Janjaweed [Arab militiamen on horseback] militias – in a hint perhaps that they should be removed or gotten rid of. The source said: “It is a step that the Sudanese government can think of in one way or another”.

Fortunately, the game of accountability of those accused in the Darfur crimes is not affected by any state no matter how much it promises because it has been designed in such a way that one single voice in the Security Council is sufficient to keep the pursuit and the trial active rather than the other way round. In other words, Al-Bashir will have to obtain the approval of the five permanent members of the Security Council, not just France, to invalidate the pursuit. This is a very hard task. The Security Council has the power to suspend the pursuit and investigations in the Darfur crimes for one year on condition the five permanent members approve. This point will be tested about one and a half months from now when it is time to debate the Public Prosecutor’s request to issue an arrest warrant against President Al-Bashir.

The important significance of pursuing the perpetrators of the crimes in Darfur lies in the fact that it represents a power to stop the butcher rulers of the Third World, including the butchers of the Arab world. As far as we – the powerless in this Arab world – are concerned, we have no way to deter the dictators. They change their behavior only when they realize that they are personally targeted. Attempts in the past have shown that they are not afraid of wars because they live in deep and well-guarded cellars. They dine on the most delicious food despite any embargo and none of these mass sanctions affect them personally. However, they do not sleep at night if it is made publicly known that they are wanted in person for acts of genocide and that they will be taken to a criminal court. This may mean abducting them from their bedrooms during the night or diverting the course of their aircraft during the day. We are not that greedy as to ask for magnificent rulers but we ask for less bloodthirsty individuals. We know that the threats of pursuit will not make them correct all their behavior but such threats will at least reduce their nonchalance in perpetrating massacres against their own citizens. As soon as Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the public prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, announced the request to arrest President Al-Bashir, the latter has been traveling throughout the country promising his citizens to improve their treatment, give them better services, end the injustices, and involve the opposition in the rule. Contemplating the new situation, Dr. Hassan al-Turabi, his friend and foe, has said now the president realizes that God is just.

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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