Thursday, September 20, 2007

Omar al-Bashir "ready for cease fire"

The military dictator of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, has declared that he's ready to declare a cease fire with rebels in Darfur at the start of peace talks to be held in November. All across the world, professional diplomats are breathing a sigh of relief at finally receiving some sort of commitment from the Sudanese government to end the senseless violence in Darfur. To show how serious he is about pursuing peace, al-Bashir named his minister of "Humanitarian Affairs", Ahmed Haroun, to co-chair a panel set to investigate human rights abuses in Darfur. That Ahmed Haroun himself is one of the biggest perpetrators of human rights abuses in Darfur is, perhaps, besides the point, right?

Omar al-Bashir's sly inclusion of Haroun in his panel to "get to the bottom" of abuses al-Bashir himself has sanctioned is just another in a long list of his fuck-you gestures to the rest of the world. Omar al-Bashir knows that he's already won in Darfur, and that years of stalling tactics with the "international community" have already given him the time to either kill, or displace, the same people in Darfur that were causing him so many headaches to begin with. It's easy to talk peace when you've already won, after all. What's more, Omar al-Bashir is doubtlessly more than aware that the aforementioned international community, who have made themselves look busy on Darfur if nothing else, will not jeopardize the precious concept of "peace in Darfur" by insisting that any of the parties responsible for the violence actually be held accountable for their actions. Sure, in an ideal world we'd press for accountability, but we can't threaten the peace process with difficult demands. Which is exactly the reaction Omar al-Bashir has been waiting to hear.

Can anyone tell me when the idea that peace alone trumps justice emerged? What good will Sudan's "peace" be when the very men who orchestrated the mayhem will continue to rule over them? Just as Suharto remains unafraid of standing trial over his bloodbaths in East Timor, Omar al-Bashir will not be troubled about his role in Darfur just as long as he manages to stay in power. While that's no mean feat in a country like Sudan, Omar al-Bashir has held the reins long enough to stay on top, and he remains more than savvy enough to have powerful nations and international institutions kissing his ass for merely extending them the privilege of talking to him about resolving the problems in Darfur. In all the recent coverage on this story, I have yet to read anything by anybody that acknowledges the irony of having the world's most powerful leaders congratulating Omar al-Bashir for his sudden willingness to make peace, only after he's received everything he's wanted from the war.

Then again, what good is being a dictator if you can't have your cake, and eat it too?

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