The International Criminal Court has finally issued its long awaited arrest warrant for the Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir.
I'll get right down to my analysis...
The first thing that I noticed was the fact that the Court only charged him on two of three accusations, war crimes and crimes against humanity. The prosecutor did not get his third request for the crime of genocide. This is very telling. Both the first two crimes can be very easily proven and linked back to Al-Bashir, however, the third accusation (of genocide) cannot be as easily proven or linked back to the President.
Could this be seen as vindication for the Sudanese government and the President as to their claim that genocide is not taking place in Darfur?
I say yes! The mere fact that the prosecutor failed to prove to the judges that Al-Bashir should be arrested for genocide means that they could not prove (from the evidence provided by the prosecutor) that if genocide did occur, the President is responsible. This will be seen as a signal by the government as the inability of the ICC to prove genocide, and automatically claim that it is not taking place. The Justice Minister of Sudan claimed that this failure is proof of the weakness of the case against the President. This is more in line with the view held by the UN, which has yet to label the conflict genocide.
Also, the 'Save Darfur' crowd in the United States cannot be happier. In fact, they are using this opportunity to raise funds, as if this arrest warrant is all due to their so-called "advocacy." This is a snapshot of their website's home page taken after the arrest warrant was issued.
Along with most Sudanese I know, I am very critical of Save Darfur (et al.). They have been the strongest proponents of intervention in Sudan, something which will undoubtably exacerbate the situation for the worse. But I'll leave that for a later time.
The reaction in Khartoum by the government was almost instantaneous. After speaking with some relatives in Sudan, the situation seems normal and as one of my cousins put it, 'business is as usual.' People were expecting there to be a coordinated attack by the Darfuri rebel group Justice and Equality Movement , similar to the one that occurred back in May 2008. People also expected for general violence to breakout, but none of the sort has happened. That being said, people are very tense on the ground and anxious for what is to come. I think people are worried most about the implications on the North-South peace agreement (CPA) and the reaction of the southern government. Here are the positions of Sudanese most prominent political parties. Also, the government has kicked out several international NGOs, among them are OXFAM, Care, and Doctors without Borders.
Here is a clip of the scenes from Khartoum today:
Also, most government employees in Khartoum (I have been told) were given Wednesday off of work and were encouraged to attend the "maseera" (rally or protest) taking place. Tomorrow, they expect to hold a 'million man march' in support of the President. This event will, per Sudanese tradition, are filled with pomp, officials screaming at the top of their lungs, music, dancing and more music.
The implications of this arrest warrant will be greatest on the President himself. According to Ocampo, the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, even if Al-Bashir travels to friendly countries, his plane could be "intercepted" and he could be flown to the Hague. This is will effectively limit the President to remaining within the borders of the country, the only place where he is safe from arrest. This is reminiscent of reports a while back of the ICC attempting to intercept the airplane carrying another Sudanese official wanted by the ICC when he attempted to fly for Hajj in Mecca.
Finally, the implications of this move by the ICC for all of Sudan will have negative effects. It will further isolate Sudan and fortify its pariah status in the international stage. The move will make it almost impossible for the President to conduct official business as a wanted head of state. The best solution would have been to allow the government to save face and come to an agreement. This decision has come at a time when the government and the JEM signed an agreement, which has now been put in doubt.
"All the perfume of Arabia will not clear the dirt" created by the arrest warrant. - Abdel-Mahmood Abdel-Haleem, Sudan's Ambassador to the United Nations.