The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has issued a warrant to arrest the Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir. He has been indicted for war crimes, but not for genocide.
For sure, behind the legal process lie the political interests of the big western powers. After effectively tolerating Bashir for many years, they now want to see the back of him. But it does not at all follow that socialists should oppose these moves (whether the ICC succeeds in arresting Bashir or not).
Bashir is responsible for brutal, sometimes “genocidal” war, against many groups in Sudan — Arab, African, Christians, religious minorities, trade unionists, anyone who does back his regime.
For too long this killing, in Darfur in particular, where ethnic war began in 2003, has been viewed in the west in apolitical terms — “stop the killing.” The ICC indictment has the benefit of placing political responsibility exactly where it belongs — at the door of a brutal military-Islamist regime.
The fact that the African Union (AU), the Arab League, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and China have all backed Sudan’s call for the ICC prosecution to be dropped, the fact that officials argue that it smacks of “white man’s justice,” will perhaps lead various groups on the left to defend Bashir to one degree or another. That would be shameful.
Of course if the indictment helps the displaced and terrorised people of Sudan to organise an opposition, that is all that matters. It could be that the west sees and backs an opposition from within the military elite. That will not help the people of Sudan. It could be that Bashir will use the indictment to scupper the ongoing so-called “peace process” in Darfur.
For our part all we can do, as far as we can, is use the idictment as an opportunity to make the public discussion about Sudan more political and to advocate solidarity with the people who have suffered at the hands of Bashir, in Sudan and as refugees outside of Sudan.