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Thanks to the Sudanese President - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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I was worried about losing a bet should the Sudanese President Omar al Bashir refuse to call in international forces, which he pledged to reject in any case whatsoever. However, at last, he accepted after we listened, for many difficult months, to news about negotiations between the Sudanese government and international representatives to persuade Khartoum to accept international forces and to end the fighting in Darfur. With regards to my bet about the president keeping his word and divorcing his wife before accepting international forces in Sudan, I gambled that he would accept these forces; otherwise he was bound to lose more, namely, Sudan.

Finally, he accepted it without disparaging the dignity of Sudan or its president, assigning an African general to head the international force that will also be formed of African forces. In fact, the president surprised us as he agreed to more than what we expected approving the UN request to send 26,000 troops under Chapter Seven [of the UN Charter] that allows the use of force to establish peace. By this, he agreed to deploy [to Sudan] the largest international peacekeeping force in the history of the United Nations.

Therefore, we should thank President Bashir, irrespective of the bets and oaths because Sudan’s interest is more important than any other considerations. The situation has reached an identical stage to the pre-Iraq invasion as silence has become impossible regarding the civil war in Darfur that has led to the killing of some 200,000 Sudanese since 2003 due to trivial disputes over territory, water, and grass because of drought.

Not one of the five permanent Security Council members continued to stand by Sudan; the last of which was China. Although China has oil interests in Sudan, it eventually stated that it has been convinced of the necessity of international intervention to stop infighting and put an end to this tragedy. Hence it voted for the international resolution with all its details.

In fact, President al Bashir was wise in accepting the African Union and United Nations force under Chapter Seven so as to rescue Sudan from the serious disaster that looms over his country. There is no longer doubt that intervention by force, unlike Iraq’s invasion, would enjoy widespread international support unlike any other war. This is what makes the Sudanese president wiser than the late former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, who found himself entangled between his zealous speeches to the Arab publics and the military battleships that were lined up to face him in the Gulf. He refused the reconciliatory offers; as a result, he and Iraq were destroyed.

It is now time for President al Bashir to build Sudan after having occupied himself with all kinds of wars for approximately 20 years, which led to no victory in the end, as is the case in southern Sudan. In fact, Sudan is worthy of overstepping the decades of crises and bringing millions of its exiled citizens throughout the world together. By ending the Darfur crisis, the central government would be able to turn over a new leaf with a better Sudan.

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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