Will Sudan's Omar al-Bashir finally face justice?

Sudan's former strongman president, Omar al-Bashir, has spent years evading justice for alleged war crimes committed almost two decades ago. But the ex-dictator now seems set to face the music after Sudan's transitional government said that it would hand the 76-year-old over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face charges including an allegation of genocide. Here's what you need to know about Omar al-Bashir and the events that led him here.

The wily and brutal Omar al-Bashir assumed power in Sudan in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989, and quickly ramped up the Arab-dominated government's long-running war against black and Christian separatists in the country's oil rich South. Al-Bashir, who was ousted by mass protests against his longstanding autocracy last year, has been wanted by the top international court since 2009 over mass atrocities committed by government militia in the western region of Darfur, where 300,000 people were killed and almost 3 million were displaced.


Since being pushed from power, Al-Bashir has been sentenced by a Sudanese court to two years in a correctional facility on corruption charges (in Sudan people over the age of 70 can't serve jail terms) but his years of alleged crimes against humanity have not been reckoned with.

Until recently, many Sudanese had given up hope of seeing al-Bashir handed over for a genocide trial, particularly after members of Sudan's old guard – several of whom took part in the Darfur campaigns and could potentially face their own war crimes charges at The Hague – joined the civilian-military body currently overseeing Sudan's three-year transition period.

So, why are they giving him up now?

In pursuit of peace with Sudan's rebels: For months, Sudan's transitional government has been locked in peace talks with Darfuri rebel groups, trying to end a decades-long bloody stalemate. A temporary ceasefire is already in place, but handing over all those wanted in connection with the Darfur atrocities is part of the deal being negotiated with rebels. A breakdown in peace talks with the country's various rebel factions could undermine the country's extremely precarious transition.

Money, money, money: Decades of government corruption, as well as crippling US sanctions imposed for human rights abuses and support for terrorism, have choked Sudan's economy – inflation in Sudan is currently running around 63 percent. As the economy teeters on the brink of collapse, Sudan's government wants to be removed from the US sponsors of terrorism list, which would open it up to investment and much needed debt relief. The US says it's open to the idea, but not immediately. Bringing al-Bashir to justice could speed that process.

A new day in Sudan? Sudan's transitional government has taken some meaningful steps to recast its image on the world stage – including Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok's recent visit to the war-torn rebel stronghold in the Nuba Mountains, opening it up to foreign aid after years of restricted humanitarian access. While details surrounding al-Bashir's potential extradition remain murky, sending him to face international justice would allow Sudan's new government to bridge rifts between its civilian and military wings, as well as burnish its reformist image at home and abroad.

Eni's luminescent solar concentrators can help smart windows and next-generation buildings generate electricity. But even Eni hadn't imagined using this technology to create eyeglasses capable of charging mobile phones and headsets.

Introducing Funny Applications, Eni's video series that imagines new, unexpected uses for technology. Watch the premiere episode.

We've written recently about how the COVID-19 pandemic will hit poorer countries particularly hard. But the burden of the virus' spread also falls more heavily on working class people even in wealthy countries, particularly in Europe and the United States. This is exacerbating the divide between rich and poor that had already upended the political establishment in countries around the world even before anyone had heard of a "novel coronavirus."

Why?

More Show less

Meet Mark Wetton, a Kentucky-based businessman who owns a dust-collection factory in Wuhan. He has been there since the beginning of the outbreak, and describes the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak there, life in lockdown, and what things are like today as the city finally begins to reopen its borders and come back to life. He also shares some lessons learned that he hopes Americans will heed.

For much of the world, the rapidly expanding coronavirus pandemic is the worst global crisis in generations. Not so for terrorists, traffickers, and militant groups.

Efforts to fight coronavirus are diverting government attention and resources away from militants and gangs, creating huge opportunities, particularly for transnational terrorist groups who thrive in vacuums of security and political power, says Ali Soufan, founder of the Soufan Group, and a leading authority on global terrorist organizations.

ISIS, for example, has recently called on its followers to intensify their jihad against governments in the West and in the Muslim world, particularly in Iraq. (Though they also issued a travel advisory against heading to Europe right now, which we imagined here.) The jihadists of Boko Haram have stepped up strikes againstweak governments in West Africa. And even as Iran grapples with one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the world, its Shia proxies inside Iraq are continuing to attack US bases there as Washington withdraws troops from the country over coronavirus concerns.

More Show less

The coronavirus is likely to hit poorer countries particularly hard, but it is also laying a bigger burden on working class people even in wealthy ones. As less affluent people suffer disproportionately not only from the disease, but also from the economic costs of containing it, we can expect a worsening of income inequalities that have already upended global politics over the past few years. Here is a look at inequality in some of the countries hardest hit by COVID-19 so far.