Sudan, Off With the Head!

War criminal Omar al-Bashir needs to go. Does the West have what it takes to make that happen?

AFP/Getty Images

Sudan's president Omar al-Bashir has just been indicted for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court.

It's a nice gesture. Better 19 years late than never.

Whether the warrant issued by the ICC will result in Bashir's arrest and trial, however, is a dubious prospect.

It will take more than a piece of paper or the wagging fingers of the world community to get rid of Bashir. It will take bombs, bullets, buckets of blood, and the West—the United States especially—doesn't have much of a stomach for that, at least not when it comes to Africa.

You can get the reasons why Omar al-Bashir is a bad actor from any AP report: up to 300,000 Sudanese killed under his direct orders; perhaps 2.5 million displaced into squalid and lawless camps; the plunder of the Southern Sudanese oil which is then sold to China, Canada and Russia in order to fund its civil war; the institution of Sharia law, the imprisonment of British school teachers who have the gall to name a teddy bear Mohammed.

The list is endless. He's got to go.

But unlike Liberia's Charles Taylor or Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic, there's not enough organized internal strife within Sudan to bloodlessly depose or arrest the guy.

There are a handful of rebel groups clamoring for Bashir's head, but they lack the resources to take out the Northern government's tanks, Antonov warplanes and specter-like Janjaweed militiamen who have carried out the most heinous atrocities.

For anyone late to the party, here are the quick and dirty basics:

Historically, Sudan has had a ruling, predominantly Arab Northern population and a mostly Christian/Animist South. Since oil was discovered in the South in the early 1980s, The North has instituted a campaign to wipe out those non-Arab populations, so that it could consolidate its power as well as hold on to some assets the South was beginning to claim as its own.

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