- Joe Biden: I can’t be president — my golf would suffer
- German authorities grab suspected hardline Islamist
- Rare lesbian HIV transmission case turns up in Texas
- Obama economy: Rich get richer, as millionaires’ list grows
- Army’s ‘Most Wanted’ fugitive on lam since 1977 nabbed in Florida
- ‘Seinfeld’-loving fraudsters busted on ID theft — of Eric Holder
- Spain, Morocco break up jihadist recruitment cell, arrest 7
- Muslim insurgents shoot then set on fire Buddhist teacher in Thailand
- Air Force cadets ‘revolt’ after officials remove biblical verse from whiteboard
- Rep. Lee: Paul Ryan out of touch with urban Americans
Sudan’s Omar Bashir, accused of war crimes, puts U.S. in bind with visa request
An accused war criminal wants to address the U.N. General Assembly this week, and the Obama administration doesn’t know what to do with him.
The Obama administration faces a challenge and the United Nations faces embarrassment now that Sudanese President Omar Bashir has applied for a U.S. visa to attend the annual General Assembly session, which opens Tuesday.
As the U.N. host country, the United States routinely grants visas to foreign leaders to travel to New York on U.N. business, but Gen. Bashir is under indictment for war crimes by the International Criminal Court. On Sunday, he said at a news conference in Khartoum that it is Sudan’s right to attend the U.N. General Assembly meeting.
“We have made arrangement to participate and there is no law in America [that] gives the right of preventing us,” he said, according to the official Sudan News Agency.
Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and other administration officials want Gen. Bashir to surrender to the Netherlands-based tribunal, even though the United States does not recognize the authority of the court.
The court issued arrest warrants for the Sudanese leader in 2009 and 2010, accusing him of committing genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sudan’s western province of Darfur.
“Giving President Bashir a visa would be controversial. It would call the U.S. government’s bluff on Bashir’s indictment,” said Andrew Natsios, who served as U.S. special envoy to Sudan in the George W. Bush administration.
“The U.S. is pressing African and Arab governments to arrest him and send him to the [court] for prosecution. Why isn’t the U.S. government arresting him if we support the indictment?” said Mr. Natsios, who is currently director of the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at Texas A&M University.
Gen. Bashir’s presence at the United Nations could embarrass the world body because the Security Council referred the conflict in Darfur to the International Criminal Court in 2005.
Johnnie Carson, a former assistant secretary of state for African affairs, said it would be a serious mistake for Gen. Bashir to address the General Assembly.
“This is not simply a challenge for the Obama administration; this is a challenge to [U.N.] Secretary-General [Ban Ki-moon] and senior officials at the U.N. as well,” said Mr. Carson, now a senior adviser at the United States Institute for Peace.
“If they allow him a platform to speak, they will be allowing someone who has been referred to the [court] by the [U.N.] Security Council and accused of war crimes and atrocities to use the U.N. platform to disseminate his views.”
Elise Keppler of Human Rights Watch, added: “The last thing the U.N. needs is a visit by an ICC fugitive.”
If Gen. Bashir shows up at the United Nations, Mr. Ban would urge him to surrender to the court, said U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq. It is up to the Security Council to ensure Sudan’s cooperation with the court, which has no police force and relies on international cooperation to arrest suspects.
The United Nations has hosted several world leaders with whom the United States had tense relations, including Presidents Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Fidel Castro of Cuba.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
- Kerry warns of 'very serious' response to Crimea-Russia alliance
- John Kerry says any resumption of aid to Egypt would depend on reforms in Cairo
- Reset? What reset? U.S.-Russia ties at worst since Cold War
- Minister sees breakthrough 'in months' for long-split Cyprus
- Russia's neighbors shiver amid Putin's Cold War moves in Ukraine
TWT Video Picks
By Bob Dole
The industrious island has proved itself worthy of U.S. inclusion
- EXCLUSIVE: FBI blocked in corruption probe involving Sens. Reid, Lee
- F-35 secrets now showing up in Chinas stealth fighter
- Rare lesbian HIV transmission case turns up in Texas
- Deportations come mostly from border, DHS chief says
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- College group's diversity event canceled after excluding white people
- Ben Carson: America's now 'very much like Nazi Germany'
- EDITORIAL: Lois Lerner's dilemma
- PRUDEN: Sink sank own campaign in Florida special election
Chaos as Manhattan building explodes
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014