March 13, 2009
The warrant issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC), or perhaps we should call it the Western political criminal court, for the arrest of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir is not meant to exact justice for the acts it claims were perpetrated against Sudanese people in Darfur. Nor is its purpose to bring Al-Bashir, Ahmed Haroun and Ali Koshib to trial in order to uphold and restore respect for international and humanitarian law and justice. Rather, it is a stage in the process of the political and moral assassination of the Sudanese president and the Sudanese government in implementation of a strategy of "constructive chaos" or recourse to "soft force" as an alternative means to bring about regime change. This is the crux of the West's assault against Sudan, spearheaded by the prosecutor of the ICC, and it is this that should shape a counter-strategy.
The warrant, which is the latest phase of developments that have passed through the UN Security Council to the court, raises a number of legal and procedural issues. For one, Sudan is not a signatory to the Rome Statute that led to the creation of the ICC. Secondly, there is the question of the legality of the Security Council filling in this missing legal link. Thirdly, there is the matter of the Security Council's ability to defer the pursuit of the Sudanese president for a year after the issuance of the warrant.
Much more importantly, this is the first such case to be tried before the ICC since it was formed in 2002. All other cases of war crimes and crimes against humanity -- from those perpetrated in the former Yugoslavia to those in Rwanda -- were tried before specially formed tribunals. Indeed, even the preliminary investigations into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri took place outside of the framework of the ICC.
This brings to the fore the dangerous political and strategic aspects of the proceedings against Al-Bashir. On the one hand, it represents an extension of the criminal military actions the West has undertaken against the societies and leaderships of Arab and Islamic countries, as it is pushing in the same direction as the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Palestine. On the other hand, it underscores the hypocrisy of the proceedings: there was not even the hint of a hunt for the officials in the US, Britain, Israel and Ethiopia responsible for the crimes perpetrated in those wars.
Let us not forget, too, that the Sudanese leadership has long been in the Western crosshairs. But whereas the Israeli incursion into Ramallah succeeded in eliminating Yasser Arafat, and the US invasion of Iraq succeeded in eliminating Saddam Hussein, the ICC has been brought in to assassinate President Al-Bashir. In like manner, whereas invasion and occupation succeeded in toppling leaders, destroying states and tearing societies apart, the ICC is threatening to do the same in Sudan by means of the warrant for and possible apprehension of the Sudanese head of state.
In Iraq, these aims became clear very soon after the invasion. The declared aim was to topple Saddam but soon it became apparent that there was a systematic drive to dismantle the entire edifice of the state, to plunder and efface Iraq's collective historic memory, and to partition Iraq into several petty statelets. In Sudan, the aims are the same and the ICC has offered the key to achieving them.
THE DISMANTLEMENT OF THE STATE: The Sudanese government is very unique in its composition and powers. Western planners who turned the ICC's sights on Sudan's president obviously studied it well in order to come up with the best method of demolishing it.
The people of Sudan refer to their president as the head of state, summing up both his position in the hierarchy and his function in government. The Sudanese president also serves as prime minister, adding to both his importance and his duties. However, the apparatus of government has long been one of Sudan's most serious problems, impeding political, social and economic development.
Historically, this apparatus has always been frail, disjointed and incapable of performing the tasks of a modern state, from controlling borders to securing its administrative and security control over the whole of Sudanese land. The Sudanese government has also historically lacked a cohesive vision and, indeed, the cohesion of its constituent parts and members, reflecting the country's patchwork of tribal, sectarian and regional allegiances.
The rebellion in the south actually began within one of the most important instruments of the state: the armed forces. Following the Torit uprising of 1954, southern soldiers and officers fled the army to join up with the insurrectionist movement in the south. The same instrument of government was also the source of many coups and countercoups, sometimes leading to popular uprisings in order to overthrow military rule and reinstate civil government.
The ICC decision against Omar Al-Bashir must be intended to propel Sudan back to the weakness and disintegration that had prevailed before the National Salvation revolution, one of the major accomplishments of which was to reconstruct the state apparatus, develop it and bring more areas and people under its umbrella, expanding its coverage to vast tracts of the country in which the government and its services had had neither political nor practical presence.
Although the current government has been accused of approving the secessionist drive of the south by signing the Nifasha Agreement, it must be said in its defence that one of its justifications for this was that unifying identity in Sudan should not rely on coercion, which had been the practice of military governments in the past, but rather on deepening the concept of the unified identity of the Sudanese state. One can, thus, conclude that the architect of the drive to hunt down Al-Bashir has a thorough grasp of the historic weak points of the state.
It could be that very close to the presidency is the head of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (the southern rebel movement) Salva Kiir and others whose proximity to that post is the consequence of agreements signed by Khartoum with the rebel movements in the south and west of the country. Or it could be because the current president stands to gain uncontested legitimacy in the presidential elections scheduled in a few months from now. Whatever the case, the architects of the scheme to dismantle Sudan chose to set the fuse at this particular moment when the detonation could stand an excellent chance of rolling back the successes that the people of Sudan had accomplished through the mediating efforts that led to existing agreements, and of obstructing the current mediating efforts that show promise of reaching agreements among Sudanese loyalists, which would strengthen the government and the state, and weaken the rebels who are serving French, American, British and Israeli aims and agendas.
Are those agendas not what brought the dismantlement of the state and edifice of government in Afghanistan and Iraq, albeit through the application of direct military force?
THE DISMANTLEMENT OF SOCIETY: For many reasons, Sudan's social situation offers a unique case of ethnic, cultural, sectarian and tribal plurality. The very difficulties that have stood in the way of national assimilation were also one of the main sources of the problems that plagued the country in its modern history.
Nor is there any doubt that this very diversity offered fertile ground for endless foreign intervention in Sudanese affairs. It helped little that successive governments failed to devise a formula for constructive diversity, as opposed to divisive tension and conflict, whether because they resorted almost exclusively to the language of force and coercion or simply because they were too weak to resolve the "battle" in favour of the unified state.
Outside intervention has taken numerous forms. At one stage, it took the form of encouraging rebel movements with supplies of arms and money and training. Indeed, one of the complaints of the Sudanese army was that the rebel forces had more sophisticated arms than it did. At a subsequent phase, the supporters of the rebels came out into the open. Now as they continued to abet rebellion, they asserted pressure on the Sudanese government through various negotiations in which their official role was mediator!
Today, intervention has escalated to a new and even more sophisticated phase, in the form of the ICC's targeting of President Al-Bashir. The purpose, as mentioned, is to undermine or obviate agreements aimed at deepening understanding and integration between Sudan's diverse ethnic and regional groups and to plunge the country into a complex vortex of civil strife.
CONFRONTATION: As in every crisis of this nature, it is not only important to know the aims and objectives of the ICC scheme, but also to devise a plan to thwart it. If the scheme, as it would appear, is to sow domestic tension and to alienate Sudan and its government from its Arab and African environs, the general thrust of the counter-plan seems clear. It is to stimulate and deepen domestic bonds of allegiance, rallying the largest possible assembly of social and political forces behind the national flag.
In addition, all possible pains must be taken to sustain the substance of all existing agreements, apart from those that do not serve the interest of the united Sudanese state and people, by ensuring their implementation through the relevant government agencies, thereby conferring upon them institutionalised legitimacy. What is important is to move beyond mere rhetoric, demonstrations and pro-Bashir rallies. At the foreign policy level, there must be an urgent drive to strengthen Sudan's relations with its neighbours and other African and Arab countries in general, especially those opposed to Western domination over international institutions.
In this regard, it is possible to envision an international political and media campaign against the bias and tendentiousness of the ICC action. Sudanese planners would also be well advised to direct their media sights beyond the domestic to the global audience, where the most important psychological battle is taking place. This battle is the fight to convey the truth about recent developments, to foil the attempts on the part of Khartoum's enemies to distort Sudan's image, and to disseminate a deeper understanding of the country of which there is such widespread ignorance and misconception about its identity and character.