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Africa’s Arab Leaders Unite

Eve Donegan, Sales & Marketing Assistant

While Gérard Prunier, author and blogger for Notes from Africa is away, I thought I would try to analyze the reaction to the indictment of Sudan’s President, Omar Hassan al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The indictment was one of the major topics at the annual summit meeting last week.

When the Arab leaders gathered for their annual summit meeting in Doha, Quatar, they had plenty of major topics to discuss, but they did find common ground on one issue. The group rallied together in support of Sudan’s President, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who was indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for charges war crimes and crimes against humanity. The charges are based on the ICC’s belief that al-Bashir organized and led the killings in Darfur.

While the ICC has placed a warrant out for al-Bashir’s arrest, he was warmly welcomed to Quatar by the emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani. The massive support of the Arab leaders is in sharp contrast to the opinion of the ICC, the West, and several human rights organizations. The leaders argue that by indicting al-Bashir, the ICC is compromising Sudan’s sovereignty and displaying a double standard in their treatment of Arabs. They believe that is unfair for al-Bashir to be punished after so many crimes went unpunished during Israel’s attack in Gaza.

While both sides maintain a strong stance on the situation, it makes one wonder what’s really going on. There has been speculation that the support of al-Bashir by Arab leaders is based on a sense of self-preservation rather than conviction. Some believe that the leaders support al-Bashir because they fear that his indictment may lead to the investigation of their less-than-perfect pasts.

The news surrounding the warrant for al-Bashir and its validity seems to based on plenty of speculation, but what is the truth? It seems it all comes down to the involvement of the West and the pull of power between the Arab leaders and outside involvement. The Arab nations feel that the ICC is blindly trying to control a situation they know little about, yet the ICC and it’s supporters believe they are working towards establishing order and peace. While only time will show who will win this power struggle, it is clearly an issue that will not be resolved easily.

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