NOTE: If this is your first time here, it is very important to keep in mind that many of the ideas expressed in this blog represent older versions of myself, and not necessarily my current self. After all, we evolve, and sometimes change our minds. In the meantime, enjoy lurking around, and watch the video trailer for my upcoming book here.

Further Musings on the ICC Warrant

by Drima on February 21, 2009

It’s been seven months since news broke out about the ICC’s pursuit of an arrest warrant for Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir, charging him with genocide and war crimes against humanity, a move that brought about entertaining Sudanese reactions.

bashirarrested

Seven months, and it seems to me that there are some who can hardly wait for the issuance of this arrest warrant as if it’s some kind of magical solution that’s going to bring peace and stability to Darfur.

We’ve witnessed a lot during that time, from China trying to lobby the UN to suspend the ICC’s efforts, to the ICC’s recent additional indictment of three Darfur rebel leaders whose names were not disclosed.

Sweet.

The most recent development was a false leak claiming that the ICC has finally made a decision regarding the arrest warrant, something the ICC staunchly denied (yes, the same ICC al-Bashir hilariously called a terrorist organization).

The false leak circulated all over the media and was then corrected. But there was another recent development that has a major influence on this whole ICC ordeal – the new American administration.

I’ve already discussed what an Obama administration could mean for Darfur back when the elections were under way.

As a Sudanese, I have witnessed firsthand what American foreign policy under both Republicans and Democrats can do to a country like Sudan. It can inflict pain or alleviate it. Bill Clinton’s did the former. He bombed a pharmaceuticals factory which produced a large chunk of the country’s medical supplies, alleging that it manufactured chemical weapons when it didn’t. He enforced sanctions that did little to affect the regime and instead ended up making life for the average Sudanese more miserable.

Unlike Clinton, the Bush administration dedicated a great deal of time and resources into pressuring Sudan to end the longest war of the past century, and it succeeded. A few years of relentless diplomacy behind the scenes finally led up to the monumental signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005. At last, the blood of countless innocent Sudanese stopped spilling. Our long war, one which killed millions, finally came to a grand halt, and it all wouldn’t have been possible without the immense pressure exerted by the Bush administration.

… given that it’s the Democrats who’ve been calling for a withdrawal from Iraq and a forced military intervention in Darfur, I’m not exactly ready to comfortably embrace Obama just yet. Darfur needs a political solution. Going back to Clinton’s approach is the last thing Sudan needs. Bush’s is better although it lacks sufficient pressure now because al-Bashir’s regime is heavily cooperating with the CIA again in sharing highly valuable terrorism-related intelligence. Moreover, last year the CIA convened in Khartoum at a conference attended by more than 50 African intelligence agencies.

… Democrats I’m afraid are too hostile towards Sudan. Meanwhile, Republicans are easing pressure over Darfur and the CPA’s implementation in return for valuable intelligence. Neither is good but the former is the lesser of two evils. I believe the hostility will inevitably soften once reality kicks in to a level that isn’t potentially dangerous, but yet sufficient in terms of the positive pressure it produces.

Heck, the hostility is already softened. Let me explain why.

You see, compared to the Red Elephants, the Blue Donkeys are indeed hostile towards Sudan. In case you haven’t noticed, most Americans backing the Save Darfur cause are left-leaning liberals. Plus, let’s also take into account Obama’s decision to appoint the lovely Hillary Clinton (yes, here we go with another Clinton) as his Secretary of State. So, not only do we have a hostile Clinton in this new American administration but also the really hostile Susan Rice, the United States Ambassador to the UN. Watch her passionately speaking on Darfur in this video:

Still not convinced she’s hostile? Fine, then read this article she wrote back in 2006 with two other persons.

History demonstrates that there is one language Khartoum understands: the credible threat or use of force. After Sept. 11, 2001, when President Bush issued a warning to states that harbor terrorists, Sudan — recalling the 1998 U.S. airstrike on Khartoum — suddenly began cooperating on counterterrorism. It’s time to get tough with Sudan again.

After swift diplomatic consultations, the United States should press for a U.N. resolution that issues Sudan an ultimatum: accept unconditional deployment of the U.N. force within one week or face military consequences.

Now, here’s why I wouldn’t be too concerned about “military consequences.” A lot has changed since Susan made those remarks, but the relevant changes mainly come down to one thing that occurred between then and now.

The American economy

It’s currently screwed and as a result, the global one is suffering too. Therefore, a US-led military intervention in Darfur is a pretty remote possibility at the moment, so we’re safe from a well-meaning mistake that will only bring about a short-term solution. Therefore, ladies and gentlemen, the Blue Donkey hostility is in practical terms inevitably already softened. The potential for well-meaning recklessness is smaller, which is cool.

Too little pressure, bad. Too much hostility, also bad. Restrained hostility and adequate pressure, good.

But then again, how does all of the above relate to the ICC indictment? I’ll answer that in a minute, but before that, read this previous article of mine.

According to the Washington Post, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is now seeking an arrest warrant for the Sudanese dictator, Omar al-Bashir, charging him with crimes against humanity for his role in the mass killings that engulfed Darfur during the last five years.

The move in itself, and the symbolic pursuit of morality and justice it represents, are commendable. Any research and evidence that can shed more light on the butchery that took place in Sudan’s western region is more than welcome.

Nevertheless, once all the warm and fuzzy feelings vanish, we are left with the reality and the negative consequences that such moves can cause.

First of all, what on earth does the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, plan to do after he gets his warrant? Walk into Khartoum and handcuff the Sudanese president? Let’s get real.

… The very lives of Darfur’s innocent women and children could face increasing danger as a result of this warrant. Khartoum will very likely react aggressively, by stubbornly stirring up more trouble than already exists.

Al-Bashir is currently scrambling after the Arab League to hold a meeting of foreign ministers in order to discuss the ICC matter. However, this panicky attitude shouldn’t be mistaken as a positive development, because the goal of the effort isn’t to annoy Sudan’s president or force him into a corner. The final goal is peace and security for Darfur’s people — and pursuing a well-meaning but ultimately unhelpful strategy won’t achieve that.

The ICC — which got the green light to conduct its Darfur investigations from the UN Security Council — can’t do much on its own in terms of enforcement.

On top of that, the UN is also notorious for not having the will to confront what needs confronting. The so-called “international community’s” and UN’s reactions to al-Bashir’s possible coming damaging reactionary maneuvers are all too predicable and they’ll be anything but tough or sufficient.

… If the ICC effort could truly deliver positive results, it would be wonderful, but I strongly suspect the bad will outweigh the good.

The ICC will just make itself look more and more like what the UN already is — a fangless, paper tiger.

Yup, it’s true, the ICC can’t do much on its own in terms of enforcing the arrest warrant (if it issues it at all) and the UN is a fangless paper tiger, but…

… given that we now have Susan Rice as the US Ambassador to the UN, Hillary as Secretary of State (she has her own blog now by the way), and a Blue Donkey administration in charge of running things, US policies towards Sudan will gradually become starkly different than they were just a few months ago when Bush was still in power.

An ICC arrest warrant issued within this new context will now have more weight, and hence its potential issuance will probably be more useful as a tool for pressuring Omar al-Bashir to act in favor of peace in Darfur and implementing the CPA.

Things are so different now, I might actually change my mind about the indictment and back it after all. Why merely “might”? Because I still doubt if the good that will come out of an arrest warrant would be more than the bad it will cause.



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{ 2 trackbacks }

Global Voices Online » Sudan: Mourning a Great Novelist and Musings on the ICC
02.25.09 at 4:39 pm
Open Thread - ICC Countdown — The Sudanese Thinker
03.04.09 at 12:54 pm

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Non-Arab Arab 02.22.09 at 5:17 am

Have to admit, don’t often agree with your politics, but think you hit the nail on the head here. Good analysis.

2 Abu Sa'ar 02.22.09 at 11:56 am

In a very short time, I believe, America will lose the remnants of its will for foreign adventures. Non-intervention will be the name of the game as soon as the fake surge in Afghanistan fails; you can smell it in Clinton’s dealing with China, in USA attending Durban II hatefest, vows to retreat from Iraq ASAP, rising protectionism, talking with Syria, overtures to Iran and so on.

And the whole economic crisis really changes the priorities of both Americans and their administration.

USA looks like it’s mostly wanting to be liked, left alone and allowed a spot in the new order.

3 Drima 02.23.09 at 3:17 am

Non-Arab Arab, glad you like it.

Abu Sa’ar, boy do I hope you’re wrong.

4 Sudanese Nubian 02.24.09 at 3:38 am

Greetings!

First timer on your blog and what a whirl-wind! I was intrigued to enter your website because I was looking for a website on the great original “Sudanese Thinker” Mahmoud Mohd. Taha…and I wonder to myself was that your intention, or just a mere coincidence- or you are the incarnation; the latter is just to tease myself.

Keep blogging. I just discovered this wonderful world and hope to open one, but I don’t know if that will be feasible with our horrid net connection in Halfa. Thank you Sudanese thinker as your “awakening” is what we in philosophy call the sun, but heed the warnings of the ancients as Socrates himself was blinded by the sun. Masakgro!

5 Ali Hassan 02.24.09 at 4:02 am

this is Israeli thenker, play another day

6 Andrew Brehm 02.24.09 at 10:04 am

Welcome, Sudanese Nubian!

Are you a Nubian? I find the Nubians fascinating. Like so many African cultures, they are fairly unknown in the west and I would love to learn more. Nubians speak a Nilo-Saharan language related to the languages of the Massalith, Fur, and Dinka, don’t they?

7 Sudanese Nubian 02.24.09 at 2:01 pm

Thanks Andrew!

Yes I am, but we have lost our glamour ages ago. Nowadays we are diasporas and expatriates in our own country. The loss and forced acculturation of our traditions is unfortunate, yet we are better off than our Egyptian-Nubian brethren.

Well the language has five groups and mine is Mahas (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobiin_language)

and thre are many websites about Nubians. Good luck!

8 Andrew Brehm 02.24.09 at 2:05 pm

Nubian,

Don’t say you lost your glamour! It was taken, not so much lost; and it’s not over yet.

I know little about the fate of Nubians in Egypt or Sudan, but I do know that your people are not recognised and usually forgotten.

9 Andrew Brehm 02.24.09 at 2:07 pm

“Lake Nasser”…

Yes, that man seemed to have a knack for appearing in these situations.

10 Sudanese Nubian 02.24.09 at 6:22 pm

hahah you are far too kind! my brother. Where are you from by the way? Yeah it is sad how it is taken away, but like Dumas said wait and hope. So I wait and hope for a new epoch of serenity and utopia for everyone not only the people here. HAve a wonderful day my dear friend…

11 h.tai 02.24.09 at 6:45 pm

salam,

I’ve been a follower of your blog for a lil while not but it’s my 1st time commenting. def think your take on this issue is interesting. As someone currently in Sudan as this issue is unfolding, I must say tensions are rising. The general feeling is that ordinary citizens across Sudan (especially those in Darfur) are those who will bear the brunt of what’s to come. Rumors are circulating about what will/could happen. At times I think some of these rumors are propagated by the gov’t itself in order to make the ICC rethink its stance on issuing this warrant. Regardless, everyone is on edge and some are trying to prepare mentally for the worst. I hear “rabana yasahil” a lot when this topic is brought up.

Sudanese Nubian, my mother’s fam is also from the region, they are Sikot, a smaller subsection of Mahas. Geographically located between (North of)Mahas and (South of old Halfa )Halfaween regions. Nubian or “rutana” is regularly spoken in the household by my grandmother and extended family. I’ve been able to pick up a bit of it and I’m getting better at understanding the conversations, but still a long way to go.

12 Andrew Brehm 02.24.09 at 9:23 pm

Nubian,

I am from Germany, but I live in Ireland. I have only just become interested in African cultures and am currently starting to learn about the Imazighen (Berbers) and Somalis. Nilo-Saharan cultures will be next after that.

I am a regular on this blog, one of Drima’s first readers, I think. Raccoon (Abu Sa’ar), Roman Kalik, and myself are old (in Internet time) friends and have met offline too. We are still waiting for a chance to meet with Drima himself too.

13 Andrew Brehm 02.24.09 at 9:25 pm

h.tai,

That is wonderful! I hope you keep the language alive. We will need knowledge of Nubian languages one day when we finally remember that there are cultures in southern Egypt and the Sudan that we have too long neglected to learn about.

14 BRE 02.26.09 at 1:11 pm

I am glad that you addressed the pending ICC arrest warrant controversey and that you went back to follow-up on Susan E. Rice’s positions on Darfur. First of all, the DIPNOTE blog is NOT US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s personal blog. DIPNOTE was launched early last year with encouragement by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a new US State Department public diplomacy tool. There have been other significant changes to a number of official US government websites i.e. the former USINFO site and VOA News over the past few years.

That is a very interesting take you have on the impact of an ICC arrest warrant on the Sudanese government, the people of Sudan, and of course the millions of Sudanese living in refugee camps in Darfur and Chad. Your viewpoints on this important matter are very much appreciated, as are those of your readers. I found that claim byone of your commenters that there is a great deal of buzz and Angst in and around Khartoum re: the pending indictment to be most interesting. I thought that the supporters of President Omar al-Bashir were totally indifferent to the ICC, the African Union, and the United Nations?

As far as what the new US Ambassador to the UN, Susan E. Rice (Condi’s evil twin sister), will say and do re: the ICC indictment will depend wholly upon what President Obama instructions. She is no longer a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution where she could say what she thought without restraint. If the hammer falls and the ICC judges do issue a warrant for the arrest of Sudan’s president, then President Obama and the US government will be placed into a very delicate position because of previous US administrations’ resistance to join the signatories to the International Criminal Court. Let’s hope that President Obama does what is right and follows through on his previous statements and positions re: Darfur.

Lastly, I thought that you too were a Sudanese Nubian. I am shocked to learn that you are not___ then what the hell tribe do you come from Son? You are certainly not Dinka!

15 Drima 02.27.09 at 2:56 am

Sudanese Nubian,

welcome and thanks for the comments bro. Pretty interesting take and cool insights.

“but we have lost our glamour ages ago. ”

I wouldn’t say we lost it, but it’s badly battered for sure. ;)

h.tai, great to discover another Sudanese blogger. Will include you in the extended blogroll I’m preparing. Thanks for dropping by.

Hey BRE,

thanks for the comment. Regarding Hillary’s blog, yup. I know it’s not her personal one but belongs to the US Department of State. But the particular blog post I linked to was authored by her personally.

As for the ICC warrant receiving support if it gets issues, I truly doubt it. People are more concerned about the economic crisis. Even Hillary throw human rights under the bus when dealing with China recently.

It’s sad.

And yes, I’m not exactly a Sudanese Nubian. The tribe I come from is Nubian Arab, and identify as such, but I lean more towards the Nubian side as culturally I’m not really Arab, but a citizen of the world, and a third culture kid. Plus my mom and dad are also not from the same tribe. I’m mixed. ;)

16 Marie Claude 03.01.09 at 8:42 pm

I love the pic, do Sudanese get hormon food like, say, american beef ? LMAO

no chance for Sudan being the topic anymore since TP is

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/feb/26/toilet-roll-america

does, the pipi caca business become the freudian hoax ? like global, global , what again ?

17 lynne 03.05.09 at 1:24 am

Drima, very informative. I, too, am watching the new Obama administration and the new foreign policy. I hope that things do not get worse…

18 Drima 03.05.09 at 2:29 am

Marie, yeah the pic is hilarious! :)

lynne, fingers crossed. Let’s hope Mr. Hope won’t screw up an already bad situation, because of eager interventionist-leaning people in his administration.

19 1billy9 08.20.09 at 4:14 am

Gaafar Nimieri was a Nubian and he was the president of Sudan. Mahommed Ahmed Ibn Seyyid Abdullah was a Nubian and he also had a profound impact on Sudan. I would say Nubians have a profound influence in Sudan for their small numbers. Also, if you look at groups that are as ancient as the Nubians they are doing much better than them. The assyrians number about 3.3 million and have almost no power in their traditional homeland. Nubians number 600,000 and have a great deal of power in their homeland.

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21 Athlean X 08.25.10 at 7:32 pm

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