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

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.

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The European Union is, for better or worse, the most ambitious experiment in human history in institutionalized multinational cooperation. Its success depends on the willingness of its members to abide by its rules.

In recent years, the populist-nationalist governments of former Communist bloc members Hungary and Poland have flouted some of those rules in order to boost their own popularity with citizens suspicious of the EU's liberal values on issues like immigration and minority rights. In response, the EU has scolded these "illiberal" governments and threatened forceful action – so far without much effect.

The fight between EU institutions and Poland and Hungary has escalated.

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Some of the worst sectarian clashes since Lebanon's 15-year civil war (1975-1990) broke out in Beirut this week between supporters of Hezbollah and Amal, both Shiite political parties, and Christian, far-right Lebanese Forces. Shiite protesters were rallying against the state probe into the Beirut port blast, which occurred last year. They say authorities were singling out Shiite politicians for questioning and blame. Below is our original piece on the Beirut port explosions published on August 5, 2020.


The twin explosions at Beirut's port on Tuesday were so powerful that the aftershocks reverberated as far as the Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, 150 miles away. The specter of fire and smoke was such that many suggested on social media that Beirut had experienced a nuclear blast.

In the days ahead, more details will come to light about why a deadly cache of materials was haphazardly stashed at a port warehouse, and why Lebanon's government failed to secure the site. So, what comes next for crisis-ridden Lebanon?

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

What does it actually mean to cut $1 trillion from the Democrats' $3.5 trillion social spending bill?

President Biden has proposed one of the most ambitious expansions of federal spending in recent memory. If he gets everything he wants, it would probably be the largest expansion of government since the Great Society, but he's not going to get everything he wants. Democrats have basically said they cannot do all $3.5 trillion in spending. They're probably going to end up around $2 trillion. So what gets cut? Well, we don't know yet. There's kind of two ways to go about this. They could either cut the number of programs that have been proposed, doing fewer things with more money on a permanent basis, or they could try to do more things, each program getting less money and potentially doing them on a temporary basis. So, a future Congress would have to extend it. What does this mean for you? Well, a lot of the money in here is designed to go directly to families, either in the form of cash payments, through the tax code, the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, or subsidies for things like child care, early childhood education, and community college. And if you cut these things back, it means less money is going to go out the door to the American people. It also means less tax increases to finance it. So the implications of what's being proposed could actually end up being a big deal for a lot of Americans who would qualify for benefits under these new programs.

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How will artificial intelligence change the world and especially the job market by 2041? AI scientist Kai-fu Lee just wrote a book about precisely that, and he predicts it'll shake up almost every major industry. AI, he explains, will be most disruptive to many so-called "routine" occupations, but the damage may be reduced by shifting "empathetic" workers to jobs that require human empathy. Watch his interview on GZERO World with Ian Bremmer.

Watch this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: Is a robot coming for your job? Kai-fu Lee explains AI

The Atlantic CEO Nick Thompson believes in tech firms doing business in China because connecting with people there is a huge social good for the world. But in demanding LinkedIn de-platform certain people, he says, the Chinese government crossed a line, and "you can't justify that."

Watch Ian Bremmer's interview with Nicholas Thompson in an upcoming episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television.

Sectarian clashes in Lebanon: As Lebanese supporters of Hezbollah and Amal, both Shiite political parties, were on their way to a protest in Beirut Thursday, gunfire broke out, evidently between Hezbollah militants and those of the Christian, far-right Lebanese Forces. The protesters were rallying against the ongoing state probe into last year's devastating twin blasts at a Beirut port, saying that state authorities were singling out Shiite politicians for questioning and blame. They have called for the dismissal of Judge Tarek Bitar — who is leading the probe and on Monday issued an arrest warrant for a prominent Shiite parliamentarian linked to Amal. Each side has blamed the other for starting the violence Thursday, which killed at least six people, injured dozens more, and threw the entire city into a panic. In a grim omen, the clashes, which are among the worst in recent years, erupted along one of the old front lines (dividing Muslim and Christian neighborhoods) of the 15-year sectarian civil war that devastated the country up until 1990. With the country mired in economic and political crises, the people of Lebanon can't seem to catch a break: just last week the country was plunged into complete darkness when its decrepit power grid ran out of fuel. Meanwhile, Najib Mikati, who became prime minister designate in July after months of political deadlock, declared a "day of mourning," but civil strife continues.

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35.4: The US has overtaken China as the country with the largest share of the world's Bitcoin mining networks, now accounting for 35.4 of the global mining presence. This comes after the Chinese government banned domestic cryptocurrency mining operations to promote its own digital yuan that would track every single transaction.

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