The recent bashing of the Sudanese government is untimely. The arrest warrant against President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes issued by the International Criminal Court will only exacerbate the situation. It will not help anyone.
First, the arrest will be practically impossible to achieve while he remains at the helm. Second, a foreign act will entice the population to rally around him in spite of perceived failings. Third, if he feels threatened, a ruler will make things increasingly difficult for his people by additional “security measures.” Al-Bashir’s first reaction was to expel Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam. Thus, collateral damage from the warrant will worsen the humanitarian crises. It is a lose-lose situation.
Hailing this ill-advised warrant will be detrimental to the plight of the people of Sudan, particularly in Darfur. International aid agencies must separate themselves from politics. Their first and only concern must be the well-being of disadvantaged people. Injecting them into political hot water will severely limit their effectiveness. To save Darfur, these nongovernmental aid organizations should stay clear of government-to-government bickering and stay focused on their objectives.
The Sudanese government should have reason to consider international aid groups as agents of humanitarian assistance, not as a watchful eye poised to embarrass it. A more appropriate policy for these agencies is for them to constitute a unified front that would be supportive of the emerging peace and stability.
A recent initiative by the State of Qatar is intended to satisfy the demands of the rebel groups that initiated the strife in Darfur. It is modeled on the highly successful gathering in Doha to reconcile fighting parties in Lebanon. Already, the Sudanese government has agreed to negotiate with the rebel groups and declared willingness to redistrict Darfur into more self-governed states and supply the region with badly needed economic aid.
Qatar’s initiative should be supported by the world community. Its results will have a calming effect on the region and pave the way for peace and stability to take root. Preserving the hard-line attitude toward the government of Sudan at this juncture can only be counterproductive. The entire population of Sudan is exhausted from years of strife. We should give these people a chance to create a better future.