November 14, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government sought to defuse tensions with Syria following its support of the Arab League decision over the weekend suspending its membership and calling for the imposition of political and economic sanctions.
- FILE - Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir (L) and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad
The Syrian ambassador to Cairo, Yussef al-Ahmad, speaking at the press conference following the resolution expressed deep disappointment at the Sudanese vote and recounted Damascus’s adamant support in the past to Khartoum, particularly in its row with the International Criminal Court (ICC) which issued an arrest warrant for President Omer Hassan al-Bashir.
“Syria for example during the Sudan [Darfur crisis] was more Sudanese than Sudan. President Bashar al-Assad in Doha [March 2009 Arab League] summit when making his remarks all people that day said that he went so far in defending Sudan even more than the Sudanese president,” al-Ahmad said.
The Sudanese foreign minister, Ali Karti upon his return to Khartoum from Cairo on Sunday told reporters that al-Ahmad’s reaction is out of his “shock” at the Arab League move.
Karti said that Sudan appreciates Syria’s stance on the ICC and expressed hope that the remarks by the Syrian envoy would not cause a severing of the bilateral ties.
The Sudanese top diplomat noted that his country was keen on not allowing the situation to drift towards foreign intervention, to avoid a Libya-style scenario.
He noted that Sudan was part of the Arab League committee that presented a plan for Damascus to implement to end its brutal crackdown on protestors but disclosed that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad was not responsive and raised many objections.
Karti further said that Sudan provides its example to Syria on seeking negotiations outside the country on conflicts in Darfur and South Sudan.
More than 3,500 people have been killed so far in the Syrian crackdown, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR).
Up until recently, officials in Khartoum, including President Bashir, have voiced staunch support to the Syrian regime describing the ongoing events as an international conspiracy.
“Syria is exposed to a foreign conspiracy because of its firm position on Arab issues and any weakening of Syria is a free service to enemies of the Arab nation,” Bashir was quoted as saying last month after meeting with Syrian deputy foreign minister Faisal al-Mikdad.
But over the weekend Sudan not only supported today’s resolution but convinced Mauritania and Somalia to back it, according to diplomats who spoke to Reuters.
Observers say that Qatar has likely caused Sudan’s change of heart with regard to Syria.