Sunday, November 13, 2011

'Shame on You,' Syria Tells Sudan

‘Shame on you,’ Syria tells Sudan

November 12, 2011

(WASHINGTON) – The Syrian ambassador to the Arab League Yussef al-Ahmad on Saturday lashed out at the Sudanese government for approving a resolution suspending his country’s membership in the Pan-Arab body.

The surprise decision, taken by Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, also called for imposing economic and political sanctions on Syria and urged member states to withdraw their ambassadors in Damascus.

Today’s move was in response to what was described as Syria’s failure to implement the Arab plan to end months of brutal crackdowns on protestors who are demanding political reform and more recently the departure of president Bashar al-Assad.

More than 3,500 people have been killed so far in the Syrian crackdown, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR).

All Arab countries voted in favor of today’s decision with Lebanon and Yemen against. Iraq on the other hand abstained from voting.

Sudan not only supported today’s resolution but convinced Mauritania and Somalia to back it, according to diplomats who spoke to Reuters.

Up until recently officials in Khartoum including president Omer Hassan al-Bashir have voiced staunch support to the Syrian regime describing the ongoing events as an international conspiracy.

“Syria is exposed to a foreign conspiracy because of its firm position on Arab issues and any weakening of Syria is a free service to enemies of the Arab nation,” Bashir was quoted as saying last month after meeting with Syrian deputy foreign minister Faisal al-Mikdad in Khartoum.

But Sudan’s change of heart today irked the Syrian ambassador in Cairo who represented his country in the Arab league meeting.

“Syria for example during the Sudan [Darfur] crisis was more Sudanese than Sudan. President Bashar al-Assad in Doha [March 2009 Arab League] summit when he made his remarks all people that day said that he went so far in defending Sudan even more than the Sudanese president,” al-Ahmad said.

“Me myself in the Arab League council was more Sudanese than Sudan’s ambassador and this was the analogy used by the Sudanese and not me,” he added.

Syria strongly backed Sudanese leader when an arrest warrant was issued for him in March 2009 by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes he allegedly masterminded in Darfur.

The Syrian top diplomat Walid al-Muallem has reportedly chided ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo in late 2008 in New York when he was addressing Arab foreign ministers in New York to explain his case against Bashir.

“When you talk about President Bashir should speak politely, and deal with his titles with the required respect," al-Muallem was quoted as saying at the time.

The Syrian ambassador in Cairo expressed his disappointment with what he suggested was betrayal on the part of Sudan.

“So how did Sudan act with us today? Total silence. Why? Of course they have their reasons but I don’t want to justify these excuses,” he said.

“You all remember that the president of Sudan was wanted [by the ICC] but when Sudan was partitioned do you hear now about any specific requests? That’s it. The required task was dividing Sudan,” al-Ahmad added.

Arab newspapers had published that Syrian ambassador in the closed session today admonished Sudan’s foreign minister Ali Karti for his country’s stance.

“All the Arab countries stood against you so why are you picking on us?” was Karti’s response.

"Even Sudan and we are the ones who are defending it...This is a shame on Sudan and the Arab League," Yussef al-Ahmad told Karti again in the hallway after the meeting according to the London based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat.

A political analyst who spoke to Sudan Tribune from Khartoum said that Qatar, which took the lead on Syrian issue, has likely influenced today’s vote by the Sudanese government.

In October, hundreds of Sudanese Islamists and others staged a demonstration decrying the Syrian government.

It was the first protest against the Syrian government in Sudan, which has good ties with Damascus and Assad’s main ally, Iran.

"Oh Bashar, oh you coward, the Muslims are right here," the protesters chanted after leaving Khartoum’s Grande Mosque following Friday prayers. "No to the Alawites, and no to Iran, the army of Mohammad is right here."

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