Qatar’s Gulf Times reports that Deputy Secretary General of the Arab League, Ambassador Ahmed Bin Helli, announced to reporters on Thursday that at the Arab League summit on March 29-30 in Doha, Qatar, the Arab League intends to, “issue a decision crystallizing a unified Arab position on the warrant against the Sudanese President Bashir.”
The Arab League summit is sure to be tense, and lots of folks in New York, Beijing, Pretoria, and beyond will be watching to see how unified this unified Arab League position might actually be. There has been a clear tendency among Arab states to publically support Bashir and denounce the ICC even as they explore potential replacements for Bashir behind the scenes.
As reported by Enough on Wednesday, Sudan’s religious leaders issued a fatwa urging President Bashir not to attend the summit, where he could risk arrest by enemies that might be “creeping around.”
Precious few among the 22 members of the Arab League happen to also be signatories to the Rome Statue; only Jordan, Djibouti, and Comoros Island are members of the International Criminal Court, or ICC. Although Jordan issued a statement before the ICC arrest warrant issuance for President Bashir claiming that they would “side with other Arab states on a possible arrest warrant,” they have since announced that they would fulfill their obligations as ICC members. There is clear dissent among and within branches of the Jordanian government over the ICC warrant for Bashir, but a common theme seems to be the desire of Jordanian officials to see the ICC take up an investigation of ongoing atrocities occurring in Gaza.
But in reality, this guessing game is neither here nor there, because summit host Qatar is not an ICC member state and therefore not obligated under the court’s founding Rome Statute to arrest Bashir. Before I wade too deep into the legal waters, I will direct you to the excellent and highly informative Opinio Juris blog, which provides consistently astute analysis on all of the legal ins and outs of the ICC case against Bashir.
The bottom line you will not hear among the many pronouncements at the summit: more and more Arab leaders see Bashir as more of a liability than an asset, and that may ultimately speed his demise.
John Norris contributed to this post.