It was finally confirmed on Wednesday, March 4, what sources well connected to the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s case against Omar Hassan al-Bashir had already leaked a while ago: an international arrest warrant has been issued against Mr. Bashir, who is suspected, and now accused, to have personally overseen the planning of the Darfur genocide, inflicted by his barbaric Arab militias – called the Janjaweed – against the African population. The military action against largely civilian unarmed populations was aimed at decimating them, driving them out of their age old home areas through rape and murder and in fact ethnically cleansing an area of Africa of Africans proper in favour of Arabic tribes allied to the regime in Khartoum.
As mentioned some weeks ago in this column, when the formal issue of the arrest warrant was already taken for granted for his alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes – though apparently not genocide at this moment in time, there is now no hiding place on earth for Bashir other than in his own ‘lager’ and with his closest allies abroad. Bashir was of course also notorious in the past for the war crimes committed by his goon soldiers and their allied militias in the Southern Sudan, until the SPLA at great sacrifice forced a military stalemate and extracted a negotiated peace settlement in early 2005.
Hardline voices out of Khartoum have in recent days spoken of turning to even more extreme Islamist doctrines and actions, should the warrant be published, and threats against UN forces and the international community represented in the Sudan by regime friendly sources were uttered with increasing frequency and at no time robustly rejected by the regime.
Recent attacks on Southern Sudanese territory in Abyei and, more recently, in Malakal were reportedly carried out by regime friendly militias. Those goon squads are still generously sponsored from Bashir’s coffers, into which much of the oil wealth of the country flows, depriving the Southern semi autonomous government of their due share of the proceeds. Such attacks are seen to be a possible precursor for wider action, but for sure aimed to destabilize the Southern government’s efforts to develop their area, neglected and savaged for decades by Khartoum. There are also constant allegations about the Khartoum regime actively re-arming in the face of UN resolutions, supported by their political godfathers in known places, which includes alleged supply drops for another criminal group wanted by the ICC, Joseph Kony’s LRA, a well known Ugandan rebel group which has been pushed deep into the Congo jungles by joint SPLA and UPDF forces hunting for them.
Hence, yet more charges may be brought against Bashir in coming weeks and months, and opportunity arising he will be arrested to face justice at The Hague.
Meanwhile, there is already much gnashing of teeth and sabre rattling by other dictators of his ilk across Africa, and elsewhere in the world, who now finally know that whatever office they hold, many of them in any case under dubious circumstances like one Robert Mugabe, they are no longer shielded from action by the international community. Word coming out of the present presidency of the African Union gives a clear indication of the degree of worries those ‘leaders’ now have, when a short-lived initiative was floated to ‘leave the ICC set up’, but the silly idea found few open supporters.
The world will now stand by and see if Bashir may be dethroned in his own country and sacrificed, or if he can be nabbed during one of his future trips abroad and handed to the court in The Hague for trial. The mills of justice may grind slowly but grind they do and Mr. Bashir too will at one time or another have to face his accusers for the cruelties inflicted upon the African populations in the Sudan under his ‘leadership’. And in conclusion, whatever the short term fallout after this action may be, in the long term a continuously robust attitude against the perpetrators of such crimes will ultimately help the world to become a better place.