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Amid continuing attacks from imperialists

Sudan maintains defiance

Published Dec 22, 2008 5:59 PM

Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir has refused to cooperate with the so-called International Criminal Court, which has indicted him and other leaders of Africa’s largest geographic nation-state.

In a Dec. 17 speech, Al-Bashir said he had been offered immunity from ICC prosecution if the Sudanese government would agree to hand over two ministers, Ahmed Haroun and Ali Koshab. The president ridiculed the offer, saying he would not turn over a cat to the ICC.

Al-Bashir also took credit for the last decade’s growth in Sudan’s oil industry. He said that the Salvation and Revelation government “succeeded in freeing Sudanese oil from the domination of American companies.” (Sudanese Media Center, Dec. 18)

Al-Bashir went on to point out that despite the sanctions imposed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, many of the goals set by the government have been realized. “We have to depend on our own resources, because we firmly believe that the main priority is to feed and take care of ourselves as a nation,” he said.

An international conference held in late November in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum supported the government’s position toward the ICC. The Committee of Intelligence and Security Services in Africa sponsored the gathering, which drew 150 security and intelligence experts from throughout the continent.

Sudanese Minister of the Presidency, Lt. Gen. Bakr Hassan Salih, opened the conference, saying that the African continent is witnessing crises in most of its regions that adversely impact its security and stability, therefore leaving it behind other developed parts of the world:

“The peoples of Africa are looking forward to this workshop to come up with recommendations that endorse political and legal stances that reject domination in the name of justice. Most significantly among these is the stance adopted by the African Union summit earlier in the year at Sharm-al-Shiekh, Egypt.” (Sudanese Media Center, Nov. 26)

Chief of Security and Intelligence Services, Lt. Gen. Sala Abdallah Goush, also spoke, explaining that “the activities of the ICC in targeting some countries in Africa exacerbated conflicts and therefore halted development.” He went on to say that “the steps taken by Sudan to restore stability after signing the peace agreement with Darfur rebels did not please the colonial powers, so they used the ICC to pressure the government through baseless allegations.”

ICC efforts against Sudan continues through UN

Chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, in an effort to curb opposition to the indictments leveled against the Sudanese president and two ministers, has also proposed to pursue cases against three Darfur rebel leaders in connection with the killings of 12 African Union peacekeepers earlier in 2008.

Ocampo noted in his Dec. 13 statement to the U.N. Security Council that “the Nazi regime invoked its national sovereignty to attack its own population.” By drawing an analogy with German fascism, the ICC is seeking to build international support for a regime change policy toward Sudan.

The ICC accused President Al-Bashir of genocide in July 2008, though the charges have yet to be confirmed. The ICC actions evoked strong opposition from both the African Union and the Arab League, which have called upon the U.N. Security Council to use its special powers under Article 16 of the ICC constitution to suspend the threatened prosecution against Al-Bashir.

This suspension of charges against the president, however, is being linked to the prosecution of the other high-level Sudanese officials. Nonetheless, the New York-based Human Rights Watch agency rejected even such a compromise. HRW spokesperson Sara Darehshori told the BBC in November that “An article 16 deferral will send a message to human rights abusers around the world that justice can be bargained away.”

These Western-based groups and institutions say that making an exception for Sudan would send the wrong message to other leaders in Africa that the ICC has threatened. Former leaders and rebel groups from the Central African Republic and Uganda have also requested the suspension of prosecution because prosecution would only serve as a major impediment to the overall peace processes taking place in these countries.

Nonetheless, Louise Arbour, a former United Nations human rights monitor, has said that “to put ICC proceedings on hold in Darfur would send a dangerous signal to would-be war criminals that justice is negotiable.” (BBC, Nov. 20)

Richard Holbrooke, the former United States envoy in the Balkans and an advisor to President-Elect Barack Obama, wrote in the Sept. 21 Financial Times that “Suspension may seem a safer course to follow in the short run, but it will embolden him [President Al-Bashir] and other future suspected war criminals.”

In a report on Sudan, the Bush administration has claimed that genocide is being committed inside the country. Inside the United States, the main support for the campaign on Darfur comes from right-wing evangelicals, pro-Israeli organizations and some pro-imperialist liberals.

In Darfur itself, the rebel movement has split into at least 12 identifiable factions. According to the Sudanese government, these rebel groups are the ones committing most human rights violations taking place in this region in the western section of the country.

Sudan’s government has issued six reasons why it will not cooperate with the ICC. These include the fact that “Sudan is not part of the Rome Statute and hence the Court has no jurisdiction over the situation in Darfur.” (Sudanese Media Center, July 26)

Additional reasons cited are related to the deliberations of the African Union, where former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, on behalf of the AU, based opposition to the ICC prosecution on attempts aimed at winning a “secure peace without sacrificing the need for justice.”

Also, according to the Sudanese government, “the prosecutor is working very hard to criminalize the government and working in contradiction to Article 31 of the Rome Statute, which is governing his actions.”

In addition, “the prosecutor has totally politicized the process. For instance, in his last address to the Security Council on 5th June, 2008, the prosecutor stated that he ‘collected evidence of a criminal plan based on the mobilization of the whole state apparatus, including the armed forces, the intelligence services, the diplomatic and public information bureaucracies, and the justice system.’”

Darfur consortium report refuted by government

A report released on Dec. 17 by the group known as the Darfur Consortium has once again leveled unsubstantiated charges against the Sudanese government and makes a direct appeal for greater Western imperialist involvement inside the country.

The most provocative of the charges made in the report is the allegation that widespread abuses are taking place against children, women and civilians in the Darfur region of Sudan. A Dec. 17 BBC article announcing the release of the report is headlined: “Thousands Made Slaves in Darfur.”

According to the BBC article: “Kidnapped men have been forced to work on farmland controlled by Janjaweed militias, a coalition of African charities says. Eyewitnesses also say the Sudanese army has been involved in abducting women and children to be sex slaves and domestic staff for troops in Khartoum.”

The Sudanese government, however, has rejected the claims made in the report, saying that the allegations are “naive” and that the authors for the Darfur Consortium are “ignorant.”

“The government does not condone abductions and it is not government policy. We are working hard to stop such violations. The rebel factions are mostly to blame for abductions in Darfur,” a government spokesperson told the BBC.

The co-chair of the Darfur Consortium, Dismas Nkunda, was quoted in the same BBC article as saying that “Urgent action is clearly required to prevent further abductions and associated human rights violations, and to release and assist those who are still being held.”

According to the consortium’s website: “The Darfur Consortium is a coalition of more than 50 Africa-based and Africa-focused NGOs dedicated to working together to promote a just, peaceful and sustainable end to the ongoing humanitarian and human rights crisis in Darfur.

“The Consortium came together in September 2004 as concerned NGOs gathered on the fringes of the third extraordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Pretoria, South Africa. The Consortium reflects the unique perspective of African civil society and provides a forum for unified action, particularly through sustained engagement with the institutions of the African Union.”

However, key elements in this consortium are based in the Western-backed east African nations of Uganda and Rwanda. The use of so-called civil society groups in Africa in recent years has been largely designed to promote imperialist foreign policy aims and objectives. Criminal actions carried out by the various Darfur rebel groups were absent from the Darfur Consortium’s report. Neither was there any analysis of which political interests and states support the Darfur secessionist movements.

Anti-imperialists must reject efforts to destabilize Sudan

An escalation of attacks on the African nation of Sudan must be viewed within the context of the waning influence of United States and other Western imperialist states within the international community. Even the U.N. Security Council has rejected several attempts during 2008 to isolate both Sudan and Zimbabwe and intensify political and economic pressures against these two states that the Bush administration and the Gordon Brown government in London have targeted.

A Dec. 18 Sudanese Media Center news report points out that “A sea change in the balance of power in favor of China, India, Russia and other emerging states is wrecking European and U.S. efforts to entrench human rights, liberties and multilateralism.” Also: “Western policies in crisis regions as diverse as Georgia, Zimbabwe, Burma or the Balkans are suffering serial defeats. ... The hemorrhaging of western power, as reflected in longer-term voting patterns in key UN bodies, is mirrored by the increasing clout of China, Russia and the Islamic world, according to an audit of European influence at the UN by the European Council on Foreign Relations.”

Consequently, there will be an intensification of the efforts to further destabilize and occupy states that take a political and economic course independent of the United States and other imperialist countries. The role of anti-imperialists based in these Western states will be important in regard to providing solidarity with the peoples of the targeted areas in order to expose the true nature of the foreign policy objectives of world capitalism in the present period.

Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of the Pan-African News Wire and has delivered several talks on United States-Sudanese relations over the last two years.