Friday 16 July 2010 10:17
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Mohioddin Sajedi:
Dancing for division
(Islam Times) - A crucial referendum is scheduled to be held in Sudan in six months, the result of which will reflect on the unity and the future of the country. Some activities have already begun in the north and south of Sudan; while there are meetings organized in the north for continuing the unity, south is witnessing demonstrations demanding utter separation. Negotiations between officials of two sides have begun in Khartoum, and some of them suggest an in-between solution: the Confederation of Sudan. The latter suggestion implies possible separation.
Dancing for division
A 2005 peace agreement between the conflicting parties ended the civil war in Sudan, which reportedly resulted in the death of almost one million people. Oil plays an important role in the impoverished Sudan. Most of the extractable oil resources are in the south, but the oil transportation pipes are constructed in the north of the country. Some international organizations have warned that a referendum might start another civil war for possessing oil resources in Sudan. Others believe that Sudan is not ready for such a referendum. Most of the information on this issue shows that Sudan is prone to disintegration.

Meanwhile, the general prosecutor of International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a new arrest warrant against Omar al-Bashir, the re-elected president of Sudan, and added genocide to the previous charges of the incumbent head of state. Although the charges against al-Bashir go back to the Darfur crisis, the new warrant could pave the way for the disintegration of Sudan.

An international crisis was triggered when the ICC issued an arrest warrant against al-Bashir on 4 February 2009. The Sudanese government called the ICC unqualified, accusing The Hague-based tribunal of pursuing political motives. The Arab states have declared their support for al-Bashir and refuse to arrest him in his foreign visits. Practically, none of the world's countries have announced their readiness to do so.

In Sudan and other Middle East countries, the ICC approach to the Darfur crisis is considered as an indication of adopting double standards in international relations. The initial arrest warrant was issued at a time when the former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld was being prosecuted in France and George W. Bush's policies in Iraq were considered war crimes. The Israeli atrocities committed against people in Gaza were another example of war crimes referred to in the Goldstone report. Legal experts believe that addressing such issues is not in the jurisdiction of the ICC; and that the ICC has jurisdiction if the UN Security Council demands that the tribunal assess the US actions in Iraq or Afghanistan, or the Israeli crimes in the occupied Palestine. Moreover, the ICC prosecutes the individuals, not the governments.

In the present situation, it is impossible that the UN Security Council asks the ICC to review the US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, particularly since the US has not signed the ICC Rome Statute adopted in 1998. Apart from the US, China and Israel were also against the statute.

On March 31, 2005, the UN Security Council referred the Darfur issue to the relatively new ICC. Four years later, in March 2009, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for al-Bashir. According to the Rome Statute, the ICC will intervene only if the relevant countries' national courts do not or can not act. Thus, the ICC is not to replace the national courts.

Washington has not signed the Rome Statute but has used the ICC to bring al-Bashir to the negotiating table. One can play with legal terms and describe the US judiciary as an efficient one, making it unnecessary for the US massacres in Iraq and Afghanistan to be referred to the ICC. However, after eight years, not a single US official has been put on trial at home and convicted for their crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Furthermore, Israel's war crimes during the December 2008-January 2009 military incursion on the Gaza Strip have not been referred to the ICC. Although the Goldstone report has analyzed the issue in detail, neither the UN Security Council nor the Palestinian Authority has made such a demand.

Undoubtedly, Darfur has been the scene of the most terrible and inhumane crimes. There is disagreement between the UN and the Sudanese government on the number of casualties. Khartoum denies it is responsible for the massacre but the ICC accuses al-Bashir of being involved in it. Despite all this, the crimes committed in Darfur are much less compared to what happens in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine. That is why many countries in the Middle East and North Africa have voiced frustration with the 'global justice' and considered the ICC approach towards the Darfur issue as politically, rather than legally, motivated.
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