Obama and Bashir: The wrong choice – the wrong side of history
By Dr El-Tahir El-Faki
It is sometimes understandable that policy makers are forced to side with one preference or the other in regional political conflicts, and they makee choices they later regret. Some may try to avoid taking sides which usually don’t work.
And regardless of the grave humanitarian crisis, war crimes and genocide committed against ordinary Sudanese citizens, outgoing US President Obama decided to reward and ease sanctions on Bashir’s tyrannical regime in Sudan on Friday 13th January 2017 based on:
• Acknowledgement of Sudan’s efforts to reduce internal conflict
• Improvement humanitarian access to people requiring aid
• Curtailment of “terrorism”
The easing of sanctions will be delayed by 25 weeks in order to give further incentives to the Sudanese government to continue its reforms.
Despite step ups of lobbying including calls by civil right groups and activists demanding extra pressure on Bashir to end unjust practices and to stand accountable for the loss of lives in Darfur, Blue Nile and Kordofan, the Obama administration gave deaf ears and forged statements that all is well to remunerate.
Reflecting on the ongoing strength of the support for easing sanctions against Bashir adopted by the successive US envoys to Sudan, it is important to recall that they have opted to be at odd with views of the Sudanese people at home and abroad. Scott Gartion was the weakest link and the staunchest advocate for rewarding Bashir for concessions he never got.
The Obama administration has kept a blind eye on Bashir’s poor human rights bustles, including rapes and the use of cluster bombs in Kordofan and chemical weapons in Darfur recently reported by Amnesty International.
The sanctions against Bashir’s regime have proved positive since 1997 and they made perfect sense when properly applied against beneficiaries and individuals involved in crimes and atrocities against the people. The sanctions were supportive of international law, of genuine moral principles, a significant diplomatic perform to oppose brutality, violence and repression.
It is not hard to understand the faltering by delaying the implementation of an Executive Decree for six months. Obama is aware he is undermining the policies of his predecessors and tantalising his successor. And for him to ignore Bashir’s violent intricacies and aggressions is to literally compromise policy of containment against tyranny and violence. Mr Obama reluctantly signed the order but felt at ease to give a probation period for Bashir to test his resolve for change. By doing so Obama has chosen to ignore the American public opinion and the Democratic voters in particular who are far more critical of Bashir and oppose the kind of advance he gave.
Obama’s handling of Bashir seams appeasing and lacks empathy for ordinary Sudanese lives and rights. Values that sustain democracy and human rights have been compromised and allowed to exist side by side and grow with seeds of repression and genocide. The decree erodes the chains of the ICC claims around Bashir’s neck.
The enduring conflict between Bashir and his opponents is seen by his advisors to pose major challenges to the ability of the US to advance her interests in South Sudan and the African continent at large. The easing of the sanctions is likely to foment anti-American sentiment due to a perception of U.S favouritism for Bashir. National and the marginalised people in Sudan anger over US policy is apt to limit the strength and potency of U.S partnership and weakens legitimacy of moderate regime in a future Sudan. Meanwhile militant groups may exploit that anger to mobilize support for influence in areas of interest to U.S policies.
And Bashir rewarded Obama just a day later on 14/01/2017 by preventing opposition leaders from leaving the country to participate in a meeting of the Sudan Call forces in the French capital Paris. The meeting aimed at discussing the organizational structures of the alliance and at considering means of peaceful protests, civilian mobilization and disobedience in the country.
Bashir remains precisely the villain Obama campaigned during his elections to deal with if voted into power. It is very sad that he is leaving behind a legacy allying him with a policy that allows Bashir to continue in power and not to face the dock of the ICC in ‘The Hague’. And in all this mess President Obama stood on the wrong side of history leaving Bashir to carry on with the new business establishment.
We are not against lifting sanctions against our country, but we are without doubt against loosening the nooses off the rogues that are behind all the mess in Sudan.
The author is Dr. El-Tahir El-Faki, Chairman of the JEM Legislative Assembly