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A Setback for Sudan - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The mere implication that the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor may seek an arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar al Bashir on genocide charges and crimes against humanity in Darfur is in itself a severe blow to the Sudanese state.

The nature of the tribunal and the crimes are similar to those of former Serbian president [Slobodan] Milosevic who was accused of committing crimes against Muslims in Yugoslavia. Unfortunately, many overlook the fact that the overwhelming majority of Darfur’s population is Muslim as well – although nothing can justify such crimes whether the victims are Muslim or non-Muslim.

Announcing the Sudanese president’s name, which could later turn into a formal indictment, would be a setback to Khartoum’s efforts to reinstate stability and boost investment and would therefore lead to an international crisis for the Sudanese state. Charging the head of state with such crimes will place the country and regime at great risk, especially since the regime’s opponents internally outnumber those abroad.

The emotive reactions emerging from Khartoum are expected, however there are fears that the people may be led by their emotions into aggravating the situation even further. The best example of this was illustrated through the statements that were issued by Sudan’s ambassador to the UN, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad, when he launched a sharp attack on the ICC prosecutor describing him as irrational and criminal.

Sudan’s turmoil is evident as was proven through its swift move to resort to the League of Arab Nations calling upon it to hold crisis talks among Arab foreign ministers. I do not know what the Arabs could offer the Sudanese government after it has persisted in its neglect of putting its house back in order for a long time, especially since the Darfur crisis has been going on for nearly five years without any effective solutions despite growing international pressure.

The Sudanese regime could have avoided a lot if they had handled the crisis wisely and in a humanitarian manner instead of adopting a stubborn stance and challenging the international community. What Khartoum is unaware of is that once internal problems acquire an international dimension, they become increasingly difficult to resolve without paying an exorbitant price since other issues begin to overlap making the situation more prone to bargaining and complications.

Had Khartoum, and Bashir’s regime in particular, acted quickly to confront the Darfur crisis by resolving it and putting an end to the bloodshed of innocent Sudanese people while the regime effectively pushed for internal reconciliation to resolve the problem in the south rationally, the situation in Sudan would have been much better today.

Presently, the reality of the situation is that Sudan and its political regime have suffered a setback – or rather, a brutal blow that cannot be underestimated in its gravity and in its possible consequences. It is important to remember that emotionally charged actions or rhetoric will not provide any solutions and can only complicate matters further.

If indeed the Sudanese President Omar al Bashir is charged; it will be the first time that an Arab leader is tried for war crimes. In this event, Sudan will have entered into dangerous territory of which the consequences will be costly and the whole state will head towards even more crises.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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