This could cause serious problems for everybody in Sudan.
Judges at the International Criminal Court ordered the arrest on Wednesday of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan, charging him with war crimes and crimes against humanity for a concerted government campaign against civilians in the Darfur region. They did not charge him with genocide, denying the request by the prosecutor.
Why is this bad?
Optimists claim Bashir could be internally weakened politically because of the indictment. Eventually, he will become too much of a load on a country already experiencing troubles because of the declining oil market.
On the other hand, given the incredible pile of corpses that constitute his record, Bashir could do a lot of things to vulnerable elements in Sudan (from what few aid workers remain to even going after the Southern Sudanese earlier than 2011) since he feels he has nothing to lose.
However, Bashir is not an all powerful dictator (nor is Mugabe, though some may blindly believe just removing him will fix many of Zimbabwe’s problems). There are competing elements in the Sudanese regime that have different visions of Sudan’s present and its future. The ICG observes that:
There are also internal NCP constraints. In addition to divisions on strategy, powerful figures within the NCP and in the top ranks of the Sudan Armed Forces have grown wealthy from economic investment in Sudan, and will be keen to ensure that such investment is not driven away by a violent over-reaction to the indictment.
Sudan’s international allies have a strong interest in the country’s stability, and they too must pressure the regime to react with restraint. In particular, China, with its very significant stake in the oil industry, Egypt with its interest in regional stability and access to the Nile waters, and Gulf states with big economic investments in the country should push Sudan not to lash out.
The Obama Administration should be considering what it can say and do with China and other partners to offer these elements within Sudan options besides staying the course with Bashir. The costs of diplomatic inaction could be considerably high if this indictment creates a maelstrom of violent consequences.
It should also strenuously oppose the efforts by apologists for Bashir and others like him in the African Union and Arab League who want the UN Security Council to suspend the indictment. A reversal of such magnifications would likely hobble the ICC for years to come, in an era where war criminal leaders will continue to hold sway over their victims and spread instability and disaster where ever they misrule.
When or if Bashir is sent to the ICC, few will mourn his fate. A tenuous precedent will have been created with promising and dangerous implications. Building on the promising element of those implications while girding for the dangerous aftershocks would be a wise policy choice.
The peacekeeping facade that all too often allows conflicts and oppressive military campaigns to continue indefinitely may be coming to a head in its most recent iteration (Somalia having fallen apart) in Sudan’s Darfur region.
The Sudanese military intends to take a rebel-held town (packed with anywhere from 30-50,000 civilians) and has begun bombing the outskirts of it. They have ordered UN peacekeepers from the town, though they have thus far refused to comply.
It would be best for the Sudanese regime to call the UN’s bluff and ravage the town, showing the empty promises of the UN peacekeeping mission there and ending the charade once and for all that the UN or AU is serious about ending violence there. Poorly funded, inadequately manned and without a mandate that is potent enough to end the fighting one way or another, the mission instead allows rebels (who are fighting a tyrannical regime dripping with the blood of millions) to hide behind peacekeepers and prolong disastrous fighting that only creates more refugees and inflicts more casualties on them.
In harsh economic times where aid budgets are being cut, peacekeeping missions are being pressured to wind down early and the appetite among donors for taking on new responsibilities has been subsumed in local concerns, an opportunity exists for new ideas, tactics and strategies to be explored and pursued to protect endangered populations.
Archaic failures created out of a sense of guilt and keeping up appearances such as the UN/AU mission in Darfur should be shuttered. If the Sudanese are willing to maim and kill ever more civilians to force the empty hand of the UN/AU, then so be it.
End this sick joke played on the victims of the Sudanese regime.
*Meanwhile, African leaders continue to prove why they are simply not serious about ending the type of slaughter Sudan specializes in, giving their support to Sudan’s dictator, Omar al-Bashir, who is currently facing war crimes indictments at the ICC. Their excuse is that the ICC is picking on Africans when it comes to war crimes trials.
Heightening clashes over political speech within churches between activist pastors and the government are building up to a climatic showdown in the courts.
As well, the odds are quite favorable for a breakout in the foreign policy arena, via the creation and funding of Christian private security contractors as part of a forcefully activist and energized evangelical community.
The catalyst could be the bloody prelude and nightmarish aftermath of South Sudan’s 2011 vote for secession from the North.
I considered this nearly two years ago and now believe it to be more than a mere possibility. The indictment of Sudanese leader Omar Al-Bashir by the ICC, the failure of the international community to achieve anything resembling stability in Sudan’s restless provinces and the prospect of further international humiliation in the Congo and Somalia would appear to embolden the Sudanese elite who will rely increasingly on the exploitation of the South’s resources to maintain power and fear little of consequences.
Would the UNSC even recognize the will of the South at the price of having to begin what would be the first (of many) internationally mandated breaking up of a faux state created by the Europeans? I highly doubt it.
The devastation of the South at the hands of the Khartoum regime could unleash a torrent of rage among evangelicals. How that rage is translated into action in 2011 beyond protest and condemnation could be the story of a religious clash in the making in 2012. The closer to fact than myth fate of the Christian South at the hands of the Islamic North could be fodder for Christians at arms for years to come.
Even in, indeed, especially in, what could be a more fractured world after the economic meltdown.
UPDATE: Of course, this can be seen as a market response to a need, as Adam Elkus helpfully points out in his “A Private War” post.