Bashir Brings the Twilight Zone to Libya

Posted: January 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir recently traveled to neighboring Libya to offer some sagely advice to the National Transitional Council (NTC), the apparent “only legitimate body representing the people of Libya.”  According to Bashir, Libya needs to be on the watch for remaining elements of the Qaddafi regime and should establish executive and legislative institutions. Bashir also offered assistance in merging former rebels into the country’s national army, saying “we have an experience in integrating rebels in a national army.”

Did we wake up in an episode of the Twilight Zone?

Is this some kind of sick joke?

Bashir, who seized power in a coup in 1989, certainly has experience with militias; unfortunately it’s with arming them.

For decades, the Sudanese government, under Bashir’s leadership, has armed and supported militias to fight in its bloody southern civil war. Now that that war has ended, allegations persist over alleged Sudanese support of rebels in the newly independent republic of South Sudan. Sudan also permitted the training of thousands of Osama Bin Laden’s mujahidin in the mid-1990s. Earlier, the Bashir government supported rebellions in Somalia, Eritrea, and Ethiopia. Most regrettable is Sudan’s support for the deplorable Lord’s Resistance Army still plaguing Uganda to this day.

Maybe Libya’s new leadership just missed all of this.

Could they possibly have missed what happened in Darfur?

In case anyone else did, in 2002 Khartoum started arming militias in a local struggle between Arab pastoralists and African agriculturalists in the country’s Darfur region. When rebels started fighting against the government much in the way southern rebels had done in the past, the government armed and supported the infamous Janjaweed militia. The Janjaweed subsequently murdered, raped, and pillaged at will.

The new Libyan leadership must learn proper governance and faces challenges unique to those faced by almost every other country in the world. To seek advice from a neighbor that has shared challenges and a shared history is understandable, but this is not the administration that the NTC should be emulating. The international community must overshadow Bashir’s offers of help by offering substitute assistance and by pointing out that taking advice from one of the world’s most notorious war criminals will not teach them how to build a stable democracy.

Hopefully this episode of the Twilight Zone will end shortly.

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