Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Amazing Adventures of Bashar & Bashir!

According to a recent report from Human Rights Watch, President of the Sudan, Omar El Bashir, and his top advisors “should be investigated for crimes against humanity in Darfur and placed on a U.N. sanctions list.”

In this regard, I would like to make two points:

First. It is really about time that something along these lines took place. The involvement of the Sudanese central authorities headed by Omar El Bashir has been well-documented in various human rights and studies, including one conducted by the Tharwa Project Team itself in 2004. Indeed, the Tharwa Project has been following the situation in Darfur from the very beginning and our correspondents have written extensively on it (see 1, 2, 3, and 4).

But the silence or, at least, the recalcitrance of the international community in this regard was always troubling and incomprehensible. It still is. I know there are no easy fixes for such complex situations, and I know that sending troops and imposing sanctions may not be the best thing to do these cases. But allowing for crimes like these to continue and for the criminals to go unpunished is clearly not the right policy either.

There is a growing need in the world today for the formulation of alternative policy plans that are meant to address the basic challenges posed by the dissolution of certain states and their transformation from ideological autocracies of one kind or another to pure thugocracies based on particularistic interests and schemes. Sudan is a glaring example in this regard, but Syria is quickly following suite.

Indeed, the Sudan clearly demonstrates the point that I have been trying to make for a while now, wherein a state can still be ruled by corrupt central authorities that are too weak to prevent the actual dissolution of the state, but still strong enough to play one side in a regional conflict against another causing even more mayhem. A state can fail even when a central regime that is capable of cracking down still exists. For states need to be governed to be viable and not only held in check.

If the Syrian regime should survive the current crisis no matter how weakened, the likelihood of state failure will increase many folds. We need a viable regime in Syria. This is exactly why I advocate a regime change there. This regime has had ample chances to show a sign of life and viability and has repeatedly failed. Now, and with the blood of Hariri on the hands of Syria’s leaders, the regime has become too toxic to be touch or approached. This is why neither the Americans nor the French could contemplate the possibility of striking a deal with it at this stage, even if they wanted to.

Second. At one point not too long ago, the Sudan was actually trying to play a role in alleviating the growing UN pressures on Syria. What exactly was involved here the reports did not say. But the whole thing reminded me of the old Arab saying: “The desperate is joining forces with the hopeless.”

The wonders of our current predicament will never end.