03/26/2009 - 7:40am
US is Mute While Bashir Travels Freely
Posted by Don Kraus
According to the New York Times and other media sources indicted Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir has visited with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Bashir has not been deterred by the arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court. He visited Eritrea on Monday and is expected to attend an Arab League summit meeting in Qatar next week.
Neither the State Department nor the Whitehouse has commented on Bashir's travels and defiance of the Court's jurisdiction, other than to say that he is not welcomed in the United States. State Department spokesperson Robert Wood, when asked if the U.S. is encouraging other nations to arrest Bashir dodged a clear response and said:
In fact other than a supportive statement by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, the White House has basically withheld comment on the ICC until it completes a review of U.S. policy regarding the Court. The administration should finish this policy review quickly. It should call for extensive and thorough U.S. cooperation with the Court and support for its prosecutions and trials. It should support U.S. participation in the Court's meetings. And it should make clear that U.S. relations with the Court are in an entirely new era. The historic ICC arrest warrant for Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir makes these steps especially urgent.
In FY09 the U.S. will supply Egypt with $1.3 billion in military financing. Ideally, Congress should condition this funding to ensure Egyptian cooperation with the apprehension of war criminals like Bashir. At the very least the U.S. should quickly state its desire for Cairo and other Arab League nations to cooperate with the Court.
The United States is now in the odd and unsustainable position of strongly endorsing the most important action that the ICC has ever taken while evading any commitment to support or participate in it as an institution. While Secretary of State Clinton has been hindered by the slow confirmation process to bring on new political staff, she should not allow the United States to stand mute on the sidelines while allowing a mastermind of systematic mass-murder and rapes to freely roam the world and flaunt the jurisdiction of the Court and the U.N. Security Council which authorized the Court's actions in Sudan.
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