The West should be concerned about the future of the Sudan: next year, the South might choose its own independence in a historical referendum; and dramatic events are expected. President Omar al-Bashir, who was sworn-in for a fresh five-year term in office on May 27, has already warned that "parts of the border could be explosive... like in the case of Ethiopia and Eritrea, or even India and Pakistan."
Bashir won more than two-thirds of the vote in the April presidential poll, which was marred by opposition boycotts and reports of rigging and intimidation. Throughout al-Bashir's presidency, hundreds of thousands were killed and millions displaced from Darfur; and the International Criminal Court (ICC), in March 2009, issued an arrest warrant for the President, alleging war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The presidential inauguration was attended by the presidents of Chad, Eritrea, Djibouti, Central African Republic, Malawi and Mauritania, and by the ambassadors of several Arab countries, while the U.S. felt obliged to send its own representative, whom the State Department later tried to diminish as "a young consular officer."
Since the arrest warrant was issued, Bashir's foreign travel has been curtailed for fear of arrest, at least in the countries that intend to implement the decisions of the ICC. This, however, has not impeded Bashir's continuing to receive the red carpet treatment in Arab countries and Turkey, and even to be considered the victim of a Western conspiracy. In an Arab summit held in Qatar a few days after the issue of the warrant, Syrian President Bahsar al-Assad, who opened the summit, called on member states to reject the ICC ruling. He complained that those who "committed massacres and atrocities in Palestine, Iraq, and Lebanon" should be arrested first. Further, the Sudanese government insists that the court's warrant is just another American plot to rob oil resources from Sudan.
The whole ICC/Sudan affair shows the impossibility of administering international justice through the ICC under the aegis of the United Nations. First, the ICC is a toothless watchdog: it can certainly issue arrest warrants against this or that dictator, but it then has no means to implement its decisions.
Another problem with the ICC is the perverse logic that it confronts every time it deals with individual liberties and democracies at stake in developing countries, and the Arab world in particular: It is an ideology that is unable to make moral distinctions between flawed democracies and genocidal regimes.
Such sophistry has unfortunately taken hold even in the West. Left-wing human rights groups such as Amnesty International see no difference between Guantanamo Bay – the called "the gulag of our times"-- and the prison camps of North Korea. Liberal religious organizations, like the National Council of Churches, denounce the Iraq war as a "clever deception" and a "humiliation" to the Iraqi people, and call for a boycott of Israel.
This anti-American sentiment is so strong that even people who would like to get rid of these obsolete Arab dictatorships equate America with these criminal States. The equation goes that Bush equals al-Bashir, and Guantanamo equals Darfur: this is the politically correct standard that many have adopted. The party of political correctness thrives on and basks in a sea of words. The Economist magazine called the issue of the warrant for al-Bashir "a pretty clear victory for international human-rights activists." Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch said the decision "has made Omar al-Bashir a wanted man." Nicholas Kristof, columnist for the New York Times and Pulitzer-prize winner for his commentary on Sudan, saw the ruling as a "step toward accountability and deterrence." The International Crisis Group stated that it expected the court's action to prod the government "to engage the international community a bit more."
The victory was so clear that al-Bashir still sits very comfortably on his African throne. Concerning the little-bit-more that the international community could do, we are reminded that when George W. Bush decided to rid the world of Saddam, whose moral standards were no different from those of al-Bashir's, he was called a war criminal.