Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 19:02 pm (KSA) 16:02 pm (GMT)

The consequences of the ICC warrant against Bashir

A decision by the International Criminal Court judges to issue an arrest warrant for Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir is the first time the court goes after a sitting leader. The move has been hailed by various nations but analysts warn that it is likely to bring further turmoil to Africa's largest state and the surrounding region.

The International Crisis Group said the ICC's decision was a "welcome and crucial step towards challenging the impunity that has worsened the conflict in Darfur," but said the prospects of Bashir's isolation or removal were unlikely any time soon.

Depending on how events play out the ICC may continue to go after sitting leaders, but despite the benefits of bringing war criminals to justice and consequently deterring future war crimes, the affects of such moves will have dire consequences as no leader is likely to go quietly.

Following is an analysis of the consequences of the ICC's indictment of Bashir.

Fighting on

* It is unlikely Bashir will go quietly. He has seen off other challengers in almost 20 years in power. Insiders say a crunch meeting of senior members of Bashir's dominant National Congress Party in mid January agreed to back him in the immediate aftermath of the court decision.

* Some supporters of the ICC's move hope it will eventually persuade Sudan's politicians to hand over their leader in a palace coup, end the festering conflict in Darfur and do more to repair relations with the West.

* But potential plotters and opposition groups will hedge their bets, waiting to see how events play out. They will be watching for any signs of weakness from Bashir, harsher sanctions from abroad, and challenges from rebel groups.

* If Bashir hangs on in defiance of the court, his government could slowly retreat into bitter isolation that may worsen the Darfur conflict and undermine the deeply troubled peace deal with southern Sudan. Over time, hard-liners in the extensive security establishment could gain the upper hand.

* Bashir could look to elections scheduled for 2009 to show he is a popular leader with a democratic mandate.

* Sudan will seek to build up its relations with China, Russia, members of the Arab League and African Union who opposed the ICC case, and also with Iran.

More conflict

* Once freed of a feeling it needs to pander to the West, Khartoum could mobilize its militias to achieve what some still think is a viable military solution to the Darfur conflict.

* Darfur rebels will be emboldened by the court's decision. The Justice and Equality Movement has already threatened to repeat its May attack on Khartoum. A tentative agreement signed between JEM and Khartoum in February, that was supposed to pave the way to peace talks, will come under pressure. Neighboring Chad could step up its support of insurgent groups.

* The Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended two decades of civil war between north and south Sudan in 2005, could be in greater danger as both sides focus on internal battles at the expense of preparations for elections in 2009 and a referendum on southern secession in 2011, both promised under the pact.

* Anti-Western groups blamed for a bomb plot against embassies in 2007, and the killing of a U.S. diplomat in 2008, could take advantage of the atmosphere. Embassies, U.N. agencies, peacekeepers and aid groups are already on high alert, fearing attacks on foreign staff.

* Intelligence cooperation with the West against al-Qaeda and other Islamist militant groups could cease.

Diplomatic isolation

* While Bashir remains in power, the arrest warrant means the West has lost one of its strongest negotiating cards with Sudan -- the offer to normalize relations.

* The new U.S. administration could still offer Sudan the carrot of removing the country from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. But early statements from President Obama and his team suggest they plan a tougher stance on Sudan.

* Sudan may continue to push members of the U.N. Security Council to use their powers to postpone the ICC case, but this has so far been resisted by Western members of the council.

* Western powers will face questions over whether they can continue to deal with a wanted president or fund elections and other projects involving his regime.

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