Well, not for the war crimes he has been indicted for committing during a particularly ravaging attack on an AU-protected camp, but for agreeing to show up at The Hague for trial. This sets a positive precedent for others in Sudan indicted by the ICC, such as, um, that president guy. But even though this may put Bashir in an awkward position — he opposes both the ICC and the Darfuri rebels — don’t expect his plane to veer out his much-traveled regional orbit toward the Netherlands any time soon. He has developed quite a knack for talking out of both sides of his mouth, so I fully expect him to find a way to condemn both the rebels’ war crimes and the court trying them, without so much as a flinch of hypocrisy.
(And as Kevin Jon Heller notes, it is unfortunate that the first trial involves Darfur rebels, and not government forces; but it will be that much more unfortunate if the only trials to go forward are ones that involve rebels, and not those responsible for creating the bleak environment that Darfur has been reduced to.)
An emphatic will: Enough’s new strategy paper, “Beyond Piracy: Next Steps to Stabilize Somalia.”
The lowest order of threat to the [Transitional Federal Government], the Somali people, the region, and the United States is actually the security item enjoying the greatest attention right now-piracy. Even so, the continued epidemic of piracy off the Somali coast is a problem and a test of the capacity of the TFG to extend its authority. Proposals to provide external assistance to the TFG for the establishment of a coast guard are premature, do not reflect the security priorities of the Somali people, and are unlikely to work. Indeed, training up coast guard officers could easily produce unintended consequences, as that new skill set will be more valuable in the piracy sector than in the public sector, producing defections from the coast guard. A more appropriate approach for the TFG will be to tackle piracy onshore. That will require time, funds, and extensive negotiations. External actors will have only limited roles to play in this internal Somali process.
Antipiracy measures would attract much greater support among Somalis if those efforts were accompanied by international action to end illegal fishing off Somalia’s coast. Like the shabaab during the Ethiopian occupation, pirates have managed to cloak their criminal agenda beneath a veil of Somali nationalism. Although illegal fishing has undoubtedly decreased due to the effectiveness of Somali pirates, international commercial fishing boats have for years violated Somalia’s territorial integrity and severely disrupted local Somali livelihoods. [emphasis mine]
Less so: a potential new blockbuster, starring Samuel L. Jackson as too-busy-to-even-watch-movies-about-himself pirate negotiator Andrew Mwangura. Mwangura, who has been the go-to source for journos as the piracy saga has unfolded over the past year, pleads humility, but I seem to recall questions emerging last summer about just exactly what went on in his contacts with pirates.
At any rate, I’m sure that the Samuel L. Jackson flick won’t go into the nuances of how to support Somalia’s government and rule of law without upsetting the delicate balance in this fragile country. That’s what our smart friends at Enough are for — and, while arguably less sexy, these measures will do a lot more for saving lives and restoring stability than an opportunistic Hollywood ever could.
Jackson, it’s worth mentioning, does bring some negotiating cred to the role:
“Giving credence and acceptance to this LTTE-inspired piece of ‘news’, would wittingly or unwittingly aid the terrorist organisation to save itself at the hour of its impending demise,” a government statement said.
Expressing concern about the inadvertent bombing of a civilian hospital in no way provides succor for Tamil Tiger rebels. The torturous logic of claiming that even investigating this “news” would amount to terrorist sympathies encapsulates exactly what is most problematic with the Sri Lankan government’s last-ditch offensive against the Tigers. It’s not only that the military has not been taking civilian presence sufficiently into account (yes, inexcusable rebel tactics notwithstanding); it’s that it isn’t even willing to let the press report that civilian casualties might be happening under its watch.
(image of displaced Sri Lankans, from flickr user trokilinochchi under a Creative Commons license)
British Foriegn Minister David Miliband co-hosted a meeting at the Security Council yesterday on the crisis in Sri Lanka. The gathering, though, was not technically a meeting of the Security Council because Russia and China have opposed any formal Council discussions on the issue, claiming it is a matter internal to Sri Lanka. Still, as you can see below, three members of the Security Council brought their star power to New York to draw attention to the crisis there.
David Miliband is followed by Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger and a very agitated Bernard Kouchner.
Incidentally, I’m off to a roundtable with David Miliband in a couple of hours. You can watch it online via The Washington Note. I do wonder if any other journalist in attendance has Sri Lanka on the mind. I’m doubtful. I’ll try my best to sneak in a question, though.
He was shot outside his home on Thursday night in the south Darfur town of Nyala as he was parking his car, Unamid officials said.
The situation in Darfur degenerated for a reason, to be sure, and those responsible for creating and perpetuating this state of anarchy will have to be held accountable. But the reality is, this kind of opportunistic banditry is what is going on in Darfur right now, and efforts should be focused on ensuring that the people of Darfur — let alone those who risk their lives protecting them — be protected from this kind of wanton violence.
(image of UNAMID peacekeepers at a funeral, June 2008, from United Nations Photo)
The SG: In Ethiopia over the weekend, the SG is now in the United Arab Emirates. Today he met with Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, where the two discussed developments in the region, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, and in the Middle East Peace Process.