The International Criminal Court against Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir is set to take a toll on Egypt’s national security
Ending months of speculation, the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicted President Al-Bashir for crimes committed against the people of Darfur and has now issued a warrant asking the rest of the world to arrest him. Nonetheless, Al-Bashir denies the charges and has dismissed any ruling by the court as worthless.
The decision comes 10 years after another international court issued the world’s first indictment against a sitting head of state, Yugoslavia’s Slobodan Milosevic, who died of an apparent heart attack while awaiting trial.
The UN estimates 300,000 people have died in Darfur’s six-year conflict; more have been displaced. But the judges did not charge him with genocide, as the prosecutor had requested.
Court spokeswoman Laurence Blairon announced the ruling by a panel of judges on the charges presented by ICC prosecutors.
On the other hand, thousands of protesters took to the streets of the capital, Khartoum, after the announcement, amid fears of unrest.
Concerning Egypt’s national security, experts believe that this decision is harmful to Egypt’s national security as it will most likely trigger chaos in Egypt’s southern neighbour. Therefore, the chaos could result in the disintegration of Sudan and consequently affect Egypt’s access to the vital waters of the River Nile, which runs through Sudan.
While the referral of the case to the UN Security Council will further escalate the situation, leading to the emergence of political powers in Sudan, who may tamper with the Nile waters to put political and economic pressure on Egypt to the benefit of certain countries such as Israel, with whom some opposition forces in southern Sudan maintain links. And the repercussions of the ruling may hamper Egypt’s efforts to promote cooperation projects with the Nile Basin countries, including Sudan. In the wake of the ICC decision, Egypt called on the UN Security Council to suspend the warrant against Al-Bashir to allow more time for a political solution.
Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the biggest opposition force against the Egyptian government, lashed out at the arrest warrant against Al-Bashir, saying it “exceeds the limits of the law”. “This decision is aimed at breaking up Sudan, an eventuality that will greatly harm Egypt,” Esaam El-Erian, a prominent official in the banned group, said. “The detention of Al-Bashir primarily targets Egypt and its interests.” The Brotherhood urged the Arab countries to boycott the ICC, describing it as a tool of Western colonialism.
Alternatively, Al-Bashir’s instance to attend the Arab summit conference in Qatar would land the Arab countries, particularly the hosting country, in an “embarrassing” situation.