UPDATE: Reuters reports Bashir will not attend OIC Turkey meeting.
With reports indicating that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir will travel on Monday to Turkey – a U.S. ally and NATO member that aspires to join the European Union – President Obama has an early opportunity to demonstrate that his administration is serious about implementing its hot-off-the-press Sudan policy. Conversely, the U.S. also risks exposing a paper-thin commitment to justice and accountability if high-ranking officials do not make it abundantly clear that the U.S. strongly opposes Turkey’s choice to welcome a wanted war criminal.
As I mentioned in a post right after the policy unveiling, the administration’s tepid treatment of justice in the public documents is incongruous with an anonymous senior administration official’s frank words in the background briefing the same day. According to the senior official, “We firmly believe that he should get himself a good lawyer, present himself to the ICC, and face the charges that have been leveled against him.”
If this statement reflects the U.S. policy, senior officials need to make it clear that there are diplomatic repercussions for cavorting with President Bashir.
And that starts with senior Obama administration officials issuing firm a condemnation of Ankara’s decision to welcome Bashir – and not just in a canned statement that only gets picked by those of us who troll the State Department website on a daily basis.
We’ll see what happens Monday.
(Here’s Enough’s official statement.)
Photo: Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir