In an editorial in Lebanon’s Daily Star, the paper takes Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to task for defying the International Criminal Court arrest warrant against him by visiting Egypt and Eritrea:
[E]ver since the international warrant was issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on March 4, Bashir has sought to cultivate an image of himself as an Arab/African hero who is standing up for his fellow Arabs/Africans by defying the edicts of foreign ‘imperial’ powers.
The Daily Star joins a legion of other papers in sharply criticizing Bashir for his actions following the ICC’s arrest warrant issuance for him three weeks ago. In addition to flouting the warrant, Bashir is, as Enough’s Colin Thomas-Jensen put it recently, "deliberately [withholding] food and medical care from those who need it most."
But as the deadly effects of Bashir’s egregious policies are already being felt on the ground in Darfur, the Daily Star asks those nations who have chosen to welcome the wanted president in their countries a very important question:
[W]hat is there to celebrate about Bashir?
The Daily Star continues with more hardhitting questions:
Perhaps Bashir’s defiance toward the West has restored a sense of shattered pride among Arabs and Africans, but he is far from being a hometown hero. Heroic leadership requires making sacrifices for the benefit of one’s people. But what has Bashir done for his country and for the Sudanese? Has he left any legacy other than death and destruction? Wouldn’t the money he has spent on waging wars across the country have been better spent building research centers, investing in education or promoting the country’s development? (emphasis mine)
Leaders in capitals from Asmara to Doha should be asking themselves these questions and considering the conclusion which the Daily Star reached:
Bashir does not deserve to win any plaudits in foreign capitals. At best, he deserves to be ostracised.
Today, President Bashir had lunch in Sirte, Libya with Muammar Gaddafi, Libya’s leader and the current president of the African Union. While the capricious—and increasingly troubling—Gaddafi is likely to stand by Bashir at all costs, Gaddafi and many other leaders may face increasing isolation from the international community if they continue to associate with a genocidal leader who is now a wanted war criminal.
Stay tuned for more analysis of the Arab world’s response to Bashir’s arrest warrant in the run up to the Arab League summit in Doha, Qatar on March 29-30.