Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Why Arabs Are Backing Sudan's President al-Bashir

Why Arabs are backing Sudan's Bashir

By Karin Friedemann
Friday, 04.17.2009, 10:27pm

Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir, despite being indicted on March 4 on seven counts of war crimes by the International Criminal Court, was given a "hero's welcome" by the Arab League Summit hosted by Qatar last week. The 22 nations warmly supported Al Bashir with a resolution opposing the dubious ICC arrest warrant.

Bashir called the ICC an "undemocratic institution that ... applied double standards, targeted the weak and gave a blind eye to the criminals." Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, also present at the summit, likewise objected to the ICC.

"Why do they not order the capture of Bush? Why not order the arrest of the president of Israel?"

"If anything happened to Omar Al Bashir and Sudan ended up in chaos, the whole of Africa will sink into chaos," warned Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Amir of Qatar.

Amr Moussa, the Arab League Secretary-General, said that the arrest warrant was aimed "at undermining the unity and stability of Sudan." In response to the arrest warrant, which was issued at the behest of "Save Darfur," an activist coalition mobilized by pro-Israel organizations committed to pressuring the U.S. administration to treat Sudan like Iraq, Al Bashir evicted 13 Western NGOs from his country.

Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report comments, "Any government in the world that believes it has been targeted for regime change by the United States and its allies would be foolish to allow Western-based nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to operate freely in its territory."According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, "Almost the entire Arab and African world supports Sudan against the ICC, arguing it is a biased and political tool that only targets Africans and infringes sovereignty."

"The allegations at the ICC have nothing to do with reality, and we will use our friends in the United Nations to stop them," says Abdel Malik Al Naiem, spokesman for the Sudanese Embassy in Cairo. "In one year we will Sudanize all the aid on the ground and we can fill the gap in food distribution within one year because the Sudanese Red Crescent already distributes 45 per cent of the food in Darfur," Al Bashir promised during a recent visit to Saudi Arabia.

China and Russia back the central government in Khartoum and support local peace agreements between Sudan's warring tribes while the U.S., Britain, Israel and France materially support insurgent militias and promote increased foreign intervention with massive, internationally coordinated propaganda. Michel Massih, Al Bashir's leading attorney points out, "I have never heard in my legal career of a chief prosecutor that launches media campaigns against a defendant, regardless of the nature of the charges."

Columbia Professor Mahmood Mamdani, whose new book "Saviours and Survivors" just came out, says he began to look at the issue of Darfur in 2003. He was struck by the rapid globalization and the fact-indifference of the Save Darfur movement, which consistently misrepresented the facts in a media blitz.

Mamdani points out in a recent IslamOnline interview with Ismail Ikashkash: "The Save Darfur movement does not educate the people… about what issues drive the conflict. So they know nothing about the politics of Darfur, the history of Darfur, the history of the conflict. All they know is that … Darfur is a place where 'evil lives.'

"In his book, Professor Mamdani describes in detail how the Save Darfur Coalition presented itself primarily as an inter-religious coalition promoting Islamophobia by implicitly creating a division of responsibility among faiths:

"The Christian faith packets were the most explicit: They spoke of 'divine empowerment' and 'the burden to save'…The Jewish faith packets emphasized the special moral responsibility of Jews as 'quintessential victims' to identify genocide whenever it occurs…Muslims were asked to fight oppressors in their midst.' "

Save Darfur board chairwoman Gloria White-Hammond, an African-American Christian minister in Boston who has been groomed to promote Zionist politics by Israel advocacy group "The David Project," met with President Obama and his Sudan envoy General Scott Gration, before their recent trip to Sudan. She and Save Darfur president Jerry Fowler pressured Obama to revive Sudan's internal conflicts and to threaten Khartoum with further international isolation.

America imposed economic sanctions on Sudan in 1997, but peace in Sudan requires foreign investment and political reform. Sudan has the largest underground freshwater lake in all of Africa. With some technology, Sudan could become the breadbasket of Africa. Bush made it illegal for American-allied businesses to invest in life-saving infrastructure, and even threatened a delegation of African-American businesspeople with criminal prosecution for discussing investment ideas with President Al Bashir.

President Obama will have to choose between continuing Bush's policies, which leave millions of Sudanese civilians in mortal jeopardy, and which have earned America international scorn, and reconciling with an international community whose support for the people of Africa is destined to grow.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based writer on Middle Eastern affairs. This article reprinted from Khaleej Times, April 9, 2009.

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