ICC arrest warrant? No worries for Sudan’s Bashir who visited 22 countries in 7 years

Special to WorldTribune.com

Seven years ago, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Bashir, who is accused of masterminding genocide in Darfur and other atrocities.

Since then, Bashir, without fear of prosecution, has traveled 75 times to 22 countries.

China’s president Xi Jinping shakes hands with Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Sept. 1, 2015. /Parker Song/GettyImages
Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Sudanese dictator Omar Bashir during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Sept. 1, 2015. /Getty Images

The ICC, to no avail, has urged all states to cooperate with the warrant accusing him of overseeing murder, extermination, forcible transfer, rape, and torture, as well as directing pillaging and other attacks against civilians.

“Khartoum’s pledges of support against enemies of the West and Saudi Arabia and a continental union that defends African leaders before its citizenry have assured visa stamps continue to appear in Bashir’s passport,” a report by AllAfrica.com said.

On March 5, Bashir traveled to Indonesia to head the opening session for an Islamic summit. Last month, the dictator attended the African Investment Forum (AIF) in Egypt.

In June 2015, Bashir was able to visit South Africa and depart without incident despite local protests and a court order that he be prevented from leaving the country.

Observers say Bashir also continues to press conflict in Sudan that uses tactics that amount to war crimes. Violence has spiked in Darfur, a war and civilian bombing campaign was launched in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, protesters have been killed, and Khartoum continues to be accused of supporting the rebels in South Sudan.

Critics say the African Union (AU) has protected Bashir from arrest since the day the ICC warrant was issued. Last year, the AU called on the UN Security Council to suspend proceedings against the dictator, urging them to withdraw the ICC referral.

Middle East allies have also eased travel restrictions on the Sudanese president. After Saudi Arabia invested some $16 billion in Sudan this year, Bashir responded by sending Sudanese troops to aid the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

The European Union, which has expressed deep concern on the conflicts in Darfur and Nuba Mountains, nonetheless has provided Sudan $109 million to curb migration and terrorism, according to a report last month.

The refugee and terrorism issues also paved the way for a warming of relations between Sudan and the United States, Sudan’s foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour said. Last year, the State Department’s terrorism report to Congress praised Sudan for its cooperation with the U.S. to counter terrorism, news reports said.