WASHINGTON, DC – The International Criminal Court in The Hague has issued an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir, a historic action that marks the first time the tribunal has acted against a sitting head of state. The charges stem from a July 2008 request by ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo and include crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The warrant specifically did not include the charges of genocide requested by the Chief Prosecutor last July.
IT HAS BEEN 18 months since the United States concluded that genocide was taking place in Darfur. Yet President Bush, the only president to declare an ongoing genocide since the term was coined 50 years ago, has done little to stop this crime against humanity.
Why not? The answer may lie in the complex story of Salah Abdallah Gosh. Gosh isn't exactly a household name, but there are two groups of people for whom his name is exceedingly important: U.S. counterterrorism officials and victims of atrocities in Sudan.
Sudan's slow-motion ethnic cleansing campaign in Darfur has elicited an equally slow-motion international reaction, which has almost no impact at all. A U.N. Security Council deadline demanding Sudanese action has been reached without an adequate response from Khartoum. The international response to the horrors in the western region of Sudan remains appallingly ineffectual.
Donors have woefully under-resourced the humanitarian campaign. Their aid is frequently held up by Khartoum, which capriciously cites security problems it itself created by turning loose the Arab Janjaweed militias against the African Muslim population of Darfur.
After two years of peace talks, the Sudanese government and southern-based rebels signed a long-awaited preliminary peace deal last week, agreeing to final principles for ending a 21-year civil war that has taken 2 million lives. The accord -- which provides for sharing power and oil revenue between the government and rebels, and a future referendum on secession for the south -- would not have been reached if the Bush administration had not used its vast economic and political leverage to extract concessions.
New Jersey Democratic Congressman Donald Payne, who chairs the African Affairs Sub-committee and is one of Congresses' most outspoken Darfur advocate lets loose. "For far too long we have allowed Khartoum to get away with state-sanctioned genocide. This move by the ICC gives hope that the world will no longer look away."
The government of Southern Sudan is reacting to the ICC arrest warrant for the Sudanese president. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, head of mission to the United States for the Southern Sudan government and member of the SPLM Party leadership, says, "We have actually been calling for the National Congress Party to cooperate with ICC. And of course, as it is issued now, we have told them they need to receive this with restraint and calm and not to spread violence because it will have a lot of implications on our country. We are actually asking the National Congress Party and the Sudanese to deal with this legally."
BRUSSELS: The war in Sudan is Africa's longest, most harrowing and most complex – with religion, oil, ethnicity and ideology all driving the conflict. Bombing, rape, enslavement and starvation have been part of the story. Up to 2 million people have died.
It is a war that has defied every attempt at solution so far by neighbors, regional organizations and major international players. And the southern Sudanese, the main victims, don't want peace at any price. "Aren't you tired of all this? Don't you want your leaders to just settle this war?" we asked a group of them recently. "No," was the answer. "Liberation is better than peace."