Thursday, March 26, 2009

Turkey's Sudan Problem, Continued

As noted in a previous post, Turkey is struggling to come up with a workable position on Sudan and the International Criminal Court's outstanding arrest warrant for the African country's president. As a temporary member of the United Nations' Security Council, which might vote on a motion to defer the ICC's warrant, Turkey may soon find itself having to take a definitive position on the issue. According to an article by Hurriyet's Barcin Yinanc, Ankara is leaning towards voting in favor of a deferral, something that could become a sticking point between it and Washington, which opposes putting off the warrant. From the article:
Despite winds of optimism on the future of Turkish-American relations, the first fissure between the two governments has emerged on the suspension of the International Criminal Court, or ICC’s, indictment of Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir. 

Turkey favors a deferral and looks set to vote in that direction if a vote takes place at the United Nations Security Council, despite requests to do the opposite from the Barack Obama administration. 

The ICC issued an arrest warrant March 4 for the Sudanese president on charges of crimes against humanity in the conflict-torn region of Darfur in Western Sudan. 

The Arab League and African Union, backed by China and Russia, have been lobbying for the UN Security Council to use its power to suspend the ICC indictment.

The United States, Britain and France have said they see no point in halting his prosecution. 

Washington has raised the issue at least three times through diplomatic channels, since Turkey joined the Security Council. While the Turkish Ambassador to Washington Nabi Şensoy was summoned to the Foreign Ministry, U.S. Ambassador to Ankara James Jeffrey went twice to the Turkish Foreign Ministry to ask Turkey to vote against deferral of the indictment. 

As the United States failed to get a satisfactory answer, the issue was again raised by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at talks in Ankara during her visit on March 7. Clinton asked this time for Turkey to abstain. Her counterparts have failed to give her such a commitment, saying the issue is still under consideration.

(Photo: Turkish PM Erdogan shaking hands with Sudanese president Bashir, during his Jan. 2008 visit to Ankara. Photo by AP)


Unknown said...

The Sudan-Turkey connection:

Concerns about the Turkey-Sudan connection fall into three categories: 1) Turkey’s sale of lethal weaponry directly to Sudan, 2) Turkish diplomatic support for the Sudanese government’s genocide denials, and 3) Turkey’s use of its UN Security Council seat to block anti-genocide efforts.

In each of these three areas, Turkey, like China and other enabler nations, has acted in a manner complicit with the Khartoum regime's genocidal campaign against the people of Darfur.

1) Turkey’s sale of lethal weaponry directly to Sudan.

-- According to Human Rights First, Turkey is one of 12 direct providers of armaments to Sudan (along with Belarus, China, Cyprus, India, Iran, Kenya, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovakia, and Spain)

-- According to Human Rights First, Turkey has sold over $400,000 worth of arms to Sudan since 2004, including tanks, handguns, shotguns, rifles, ammunition, swords, and bayonets.

-- Turkey and Sudan signed a military cooperation agreement in 2006.

2) Turkish diplomatic support for the Sudanese government’s genocide denials.

-- Sudan President al-Bashir’s first foreign visit after his indictment by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on crimes of genocide was to Turkey.

-- Despite calls from human rights groups, including formal letters from Human Rights Watch, Turkish President Gul has not put pressure on Sudan to end the atrocities in Darfur, instead claiming that the hundreds of thousands of deaths there were merely a “humanitarian tragedy” that “is not only a matter of politics, but also stems from poverty and environmental conditions.”

-- Speaking on the floor of the House on February 13, 2008, Congressman Frank Pallone criticized Turkey for not standing up against, or even recognizing, the Darfur Genocide, noting that Ankara, rather than isolating Sudan, is actually strengthening its bilateral ties: “Last year, Turkish President Abdullah Gul warmly welcomed Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to Ankara. Yet, Al-Bashir continues to preside over a genocidal regime responsible for the deaths of 300,000 Sudanese people in the Darfur region of the country. Today, 2.7 million Darfuris have lost their homes since the conflict and now live in internally displaced persons camps.”

-- Writing in the January 2008, former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, Morton Abramowitz, noted that: “One would think Turkey’s leaders would be a little more careful before laying down the red carpet for the likes of President Omar al Bashir of Sudan.

3) Turkey’s use of its UN Security Council seat to block anti-genocide efforts.

-- Sudan has called on Turkey, which holds a rotating seat on the UN Security Council, to block the indictment of al-Bashir.

-- Turkey is seen as a pivotal vote on the UN Security Council, as reported by Hurriyet - "UN vote on Sudan tests Turkish ties"

David R. Adler said...

Agreed - this is a Turkish leader who can warmly shake Bashir's hand, yet is unable to share a stage with Shimon Peres without flying into a rage against maltreatment of Muslims.

Yigal Schleifer said...

Thanks, Aram. Points well made.