Egyptian FM defends Sudan’s military campaign in Darfur

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The Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Aboul-Gheit defended the actions of Sudan since the rebels in Darfur took up arms in 2003 against the central government on claims of marginalization.
The conflict led to what the UN described as the “world`s worst humanitarian crisis” that led to the death of more than 300 000 people and displacing millions across Darfur.
“What happened in Sudan was a civil war and an attempt by the Sudanese Authority to impose itself on the ground against a threatened rebellion,” Aboul-Gheit told the London based Al-Hayat newspaper in an interview.
The Egyptian reiterated his country`s rejection of the International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant for the Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir for his role in orchestrating the military campaign in Darfur.
“The accusation against Bashir, the AU has rejected it. The AU is the highest authority in Africa. The Arab League rejected it. Egypt does not agree to it. Why? Because we see there is a politicization of this decision,” Aboul-Gheit said.
Furthermore, the Egyptian top diplomat stressed that executing the arrest warrant is not binding to non-ICC state parties including his country.
“When a resolution is issued by the Security Council under Chapter VII we shall be committed to it. As long as no such resolution has been issued, this remains an accusation by the Prosecutor-General. The ICC decision is not obliging to any party that is not a member in this court. This is the position that we have adopted at the Arab League and that the African Union adopts. It is not an Egyptian position only.
We are not committed by anything in which we are not members. We are not members in the court,” he said.
Asked why the Arab states wants the ICC to investigate the Gaza war earlier this year but at the same time don`t want it to prosecute Bashir Aboul-Gheit said that the events are different in terms of a civil war in Sudan versus Israeli attacks on Gaza strip.
He said that Egypt will support Palestinian efforts to try Israeli suspects before the ICC “because it is the right of the Palestinian people”.
Aboul-Gheit said Egypt`s stance is not contradictory because he “doubt very much that the court will adopt measures against what Israel did along the pattern of what happened with Sudan”.
“I am not in the process of defending the Sudanese Authority, but I see that there is politicization of that case,” he said.
Since Bashir was indicted by the ICC he made two visits to Egypt in defiance of the arrest warrant and met with his counterpart Hosni Mubarak.
Egypt along with other Arab countries has categorically rejected the arrest warrant calling on the UN Security Council (UNSC) to defer it for 12 months under the Rome Statute provisions.
Many people in the Arab world view the ICC as practicing double standards in selecting cases against third world countries while turning a blind eye to what they view as war crimes committed by US or Israel.
Last March the Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa rejected suggestions that the pan-Arab organization is taking conflicting positions with regard to crimes committed in Sudan`s Western region of Darfur and the Gaza ones.
“What is happening in Darfur is a semi-civil war and its responsibility is shared by many parties” the Arab League Secretary General said.
“The arrest warrant by the ICC is against a sitting president but what is occurring in Palestinian us a military occupation responsible for all that is committed on the ground” he added.
Egypt, which is carrying out an initiative trying to unify Darfur rebels, has in the past claimed that the conflict is exaggerated.
Last month the powerful Secretary General of the ruling Democratic National Party (DNP) in Egypt Safwat Al-Sharif said that the Darfur crisis is an “artificial” one directed against the people of Sudan.
In 2004 the UNSC formed a UN commission of inquiry to look into Darfur abuses headed by former President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) Italian Antonio Cassese.
The commission, which included a former Egyptian official, concluded that the government did not pursue a policy of genocide in the Darfur region but that Khartoum and government-sponsored Arab militias known as the Janjaweed engaged in “widespread and systematic” abuse that may constitute crimes against humanity.