بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
The following is a translation of an Arabic Q&A.
The Justice & Equality Movement (JEM) is known to be loyal to France. How then could it meet in Qatar with the Sudanese government and announce reaching an agreement of fair intentions? Moreover, what is the stand of the concerned countries on this agreement? Does this imply that the United States and Europe are on the verge of coming to a mutual agreement about charging al-Basheer?
Yes, negotiations have taken place between the Sudanese government and the Justice & Equality Movement during the last eight days and they have reached an understanding in Doha on 17th February, 2009. They have referred to this agreement as the Agreement of Fair Intentions and Trust-building.
This agreement calls for the two parties to sit together and hold peace dialogue and work out an agreement to solve the Darfur conflict within a period of three months. It also calls for the two parties to meet again for another round within two weeks.
As for the international community's stance on this - The US ambassador to the United Nations has said: "This (agreement) is expected to be a modest beginning towards peace." This statement implies support for the agreement. When the Ambassador was asked as to how this agreement is linked to Basheer, the Ambassador replied: "I see no connection." (al-Sharq al-Awsat 18th February, 2009). This implies that the American Ambassador was trying to deny that this agreement was an attempt to secure the position of Basheer, everyone understands this. It is likely that the International Criminal Court (ICC) may issue its decision on Basheer this week.
The threat of the ICC for several months is an attempt by the Europeans to come to a compromise solution acceptable to the Americans, and in fact the Doha talks are a part of this attempt. It appears that the Doha talks are the first phase towards finding a compromise acceptable to the Europeans and Americans in Sudan.
The Doha talks have been welcomed by the UN Secretary Genral Ban Ki Moon as well as the current president of the UN Security Council, the Japanese Ambassador Yokio Takasu who said: "It is a first step in the right direction to end the conflict in Darfur." (al-Jazeerah, 18th February, 2009). These receptive statements fit well with the American game plan.
France, which has been very active in the matter, has so far not issued any statement on this agreement, as if it is waiting for a decision by the ICC in the next few days. However, the Sudanese Ambassador to the United Nations, Abdu Mahmoud Abdul Haleem has criticised it saying:
"It (France) is still holding one of the rebel leaders (Abdul Wahid) in a five-star hotel who issues fiery statements which adversely affects the peace process." The Ambassador said that the French President Nicholas Sarkozy has informed Basheer during a meeting in which the Ambassador was president, that Abdul Haleem will be deported from France if he hinders the peace process. (al-Sharq al Awsat, 18th February, 2009). This implies that France is looking forward to reach a compromise solution with Basheer with the participation of the French backed movements.
What is known as the Justice & Equality Movement, which is loyal to France and supported by it, will only agree the dialogue if France approves of it.
The comprising parties and their host (Qatar) are all the agents of the British which indicates that the British are interested in achieving certain benefits for themselves from this conflict.
If the decision of the ICC happens to be a negative one, like for instance if it calls for the arrest of Basheer and prosecuting him, then it is expected that Basheer may invoke article16 in the UN Security Council, which calls for freezing implementation of the ICC Judgment for a period of one year which again may be extended especially since countries like Russia and China have publicly supported such a stance apart from the US which has also backed this either directly or indirectly through its agents.
The US and is agents, led by Egypt have already been active in this approach, Abu al-Ghaith said in a meeting with Basheer: "We will actively pursue with the UNSC members and seek to implement article 16 of the ICC Statute to postpone any action against Sudan and President Basheer." He also pointed out that President Mubarak's visits to France and Italy, as well as Abu Ghaith's meeting with the US Secretary of State are aimed at finding a solution to the Darfur crisis. (al-Jazeerah, 15th February, 2009).
Sarkozy is aware of the importance of Egypt and Mubarak in the matter which became evident when the Jews disregarded the French initiative on the issue of Gaza, while they accepted the Egyptian initiative on the subject. Since Sarkozy understands this well, he has called his initiative the French-Egyptian initiative, though others like the Jews have refused to accept this as a ‘French-Egyptian' imitative and called it as the Egyptian initiative. Hence Mubarak has been generous with Sarkozy so that France gives up on its attempts to secure an ICC judgement.
24 Safar 1430
18 February 2009