Sudan’s president Mr. Omar al-Bashir was all smiles Monday after he received immense support from fellow Arab heads of states at the Qatar summit. “We stress our solidarity with Sudan and our rejection of the ICC (International Criminal Court) decision,” a statement from the League of Arab Nations read. Meanwhile, dramatic scenes from Libyan leader and an angry protest from Yemeni leader as well as the group’s inability to reprimand the Sudanese leader for his decision to ban humanitarian agencies and putting the lives of millions at stake, have been received with mixed feelings.
The League of Arab Nations have said those who had committed massacres and atrocities in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon” should be arrested first, before the Sudanese president. The bold statement, was made by Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.
President al-Bashir who attended the summit just to thank the Arab leaders for their unrelenting support, was welcomed in an extravagant ceremony at the Doha airport. Mr. Bashir is wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Mr. Bashir had also received strong support from Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak who was absent from the summit of 17 heads of state in Qatar, yesterday, 28th March, 2009. Reports have claimed that Mr. Hosni Mubarak was absent because he is unhappy with Qatar’s stance during the recent Gaza conflict.
Mr. al-Bashir could not be arrested by Qatar authorities because Qatar has not signed the ICC charter, which obliges a member state to arrest those indicted by the court when they enter its territory.
Head of the African Union and Libyan president, Mr. Muammar Gaddafi, noted for his dramatic protests at the Arab league, during the summit, called the Saudi Arabia King, Abdullah a British product and an American ally before storming out of the meeting to visit a museum. He later indicated that he now considered their 6-year-long dispute over and was ready to make peace, a move that earned him applause from the other delegates. Reports claim that the two leaders had a 30 minute tete-a-tete on the sidelines after the summit. The two leaders are reported to have agreed to exchange visits. In 1989 he blew cigar smoke into the face of the now defunct King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, after he had worn gloves a year earlier to avoid touching blood-stained hands of some of his fellow leaders.
President of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, also angrily pulled out of the 21ts Arab League summit Monday, when he protested the group’s failure to discuss his proposal — which had been endorsed by the Arab Parliament prior to the summit — of an European Union style Arab Union to address issues on Arab state economies, security and defence.
Meanwhile, Hamas has lashed out at the summit which, according to Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas spokesman, “doesn’t amount to realistic decisions and lacks practical steps and doesn’t go with the suffering and the sacrifice of the Palestinian people,” said.
According to analysts, the all talk and no action Arab summit may have forgotten to mention one essential element while screaming their support for Omar el-Beshir: “The millions of lives at stake in Darfur (…) whose lives depend on the Arab leaders, who for the moment seem more preoccupied with the sound of their voice”.
It should be noted that a coalition of human rights groups from the Middle East had urged the Arab leader to recognize the difficult situation in Darfu especially for the suffering masses and not to protect Omar el-Bashir.