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Libya & Sudans Relations!

Interesting Article: "The Arab spring's Sudanese subplot is cause for concern" by Kate Allen / London published Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

An interesting article mentioned that Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir visited Tripoli as a guest of the National Transitional Council Government of Libya. Bashir was there ostensibly to forge political ties with Libya's interim rulers, but as the NTC well knew, Bashir is a wanted man. The international criminal court has issued international arrest warrants in respect of alleged crimes against humanity and genocide conducted by Sudanese forces – and proxy militias – in Sudan's western region, Darfur. Libya is not a signatory to the ICC treaty so is not legally bound to arrest Bashir (something, incidentally, that other countries who are signatories have also failed to do). This is all the more curious when you recall the already fraught relationship between the ICC and Tripoli over the trial of Saif Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi, Libya's former intelligence chief. Assessments from the likes of Amnesty International's Donatella Rovera are that Libya is currently incapable of being able to guarantee the kind of comprehensive, fair trial that would satisfy the ICC. In short, Libya and the ICC seem to be on a collision course. So what is the Libya-Sudanese connection?

The reason I mentioned Sudan is that there is another Sudanese angle to the Arab spring story. The much-criticized Arab League mission to Syria is being led by Mohamed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi, Sudan's former military intelligence chief (in the early 1990s). During this period, Sudan's military intelligence was responsible for the arbitrary arrest, detention, enforced disappearance and torture of numerous people in the country. A new report from Amnesty warns that most of the countries affected by the Arab spring have totally failed to grasp the immensity of the changes happening all around them. Or if they have recognized them, they've often tried to thwart them. While Bashir was in Libya, he had offered the new Libyan government help from Sudanese troops in protecting Libya's southern borders during the war that ended Muammar Gaddafi's rule, that offer was declined. Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of the National Transitional Council, warned this week that Libya risks sliding into civil war unless it cracks down on rival militias which filled the vacuum left by Gaddafi's downfall. The militias are vying with each other for influence, and believe that to ensure they receive their due share of political power they need to keep an armed presence in the capital. Abdul Jalil, who visited Khartoum in November, has said Sudanese weapons and ammunition helped Libya's former rebels oust Muammar Gaddafi last year and take control of the North African country. Relations between Khartoum and Tripoli were strained during Gaddafi's rule because of his support for rebels in Sudan's western Darfur region and in South Sudan, which gained independence in July under a 2005 peace deal. Bashir said that the ousting of Gaddafi was "the best piece of news in Sudan's modern history." Libya shares an important border with Sudan (see map above) and there have long been tensions between the two countries. From a Libyan point of view, it’s not straightforward simply to give Sudan the cold shoulder. Moreover, while Western leaders like Cameron and Sarkozy like to take the lion’s share of the credit for bombing the NTC into power, it’s an uncomfortable truth that Bashir – a long-time foe of Gaddafi - also played a critical role in the uprising. The U.S. on Monday opposed a visit to Libya by Sudanese President as he is wanted internationally for charges of genocide and war crimes. "We did raise this issue with Libyan officials," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, admitting that Washington raised the issue "relatively late" because it had not been immediately aware of the visit. "The Libyan government knows our view that we oppose invitations, facilitation or support for travel by President Bashir because he is the subject of an ICC (International Criminal Court) arrest warrant," she said. On Saturday, the chairman of the NTC said Libya will review its investments in the Arab world, Africa, and elsewhere, and it will make major agricultural and property investments in neighboring Sudan. There will be major agricultural and real estate investments in Sudan," he said. "Reason and justice require us to direct agricultural investments close to Libya instead of the Far East or Central Asia." Much of the Libya's foreign assets are in cash, bonds and equities. Its former Central Bank governor said in August the country's foreign currency reserves were about $168 billion. Some of Libya's major investments in Africa are managed by the $65-billion Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) through a $5 billion fund known as Libyan African Investment Portfolio (LAP). Under Muammar Gaddafi, Libya invested its oil wealth mostly in Europe but it also made major investments in Africa, the Middle East, North Africa and the United States. Sudan is home to countless rebel groups. Most of the bloodshed in Sudan has occurred far from the capital, in the impoverished peripheries, like Darfur, where marginalized, non-Arab groups have risen up against the Sudanese Arab-dominated central government. Sudan has become in recent years the attraction of many countries as an investment opportunity and in the various fields. The Qatari-Sudanese relations, particularly in the area of investments, have been developing fast in recent years with large Qatari investment flowing into the country, especially in the field of agriculture, animal resources, industry and real estate. Six months after the birth of South Sudan as an independent nation, it is a country still trying to define its culture and national identity. On January 6, 2012 the Obama Administration announced a determination on the eligibility of South Sudan to receive what it has been called defense articles and defense services. But the fact is while the Government of Sudan has taken some steps to limit the activities of terror groups; elements of these groups remain in Sudan and have threatened to attack Western interests. How the Sudanese relationship with Libya will work out though, is anyone’s guess.



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