Cablegate: Media Reaction: The British and French Will Save Bashir?
OO RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1410 2611030
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 171030Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1913
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS KHARTOUM 001410
DEPT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, SE WILLIAMSON, AF/SPG
NSC FOR PITTMAN AND HUDSON
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC PGOV PREL KPKO SOCI AU UNSC SU
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION: THE BRITISH AND FRENCH WILL SAVE BASHIR?
1. (U) SUMMARY: An article published by Alex Duval in the September
14 edition of The Guardian (UK) entitled "British efforts to block
the ICC indictment of President Al-Bashir" has emboldened the
state-influenced press of Khartoum. The article made front-page
news September 15 and 16, with a number of Khartoum-based editorials
extolling the "surprising turn of events" brought about by the UK
and France, taking note that these governments are now allegedly
"backing the moves of Libya, the Arab League, and several African
countries." END SUMMARY.
2. (U) On September 16, Sudan Vision, a pro-government English
language daily, ran a commentary article entitled "The ICC
Countdown" in which the author stated the alleged British and French
support for stopping the ICC's indictment of President Bashir was
"an unexpected endorsement" of the Sudanese government. Concluding
the piece, the columnist wrote "finally the issue of justice versus
stability and peace is being put on the table. It is no longer an
academic exercise... now things are being seen under a different
3. (U) Al-Ahdath, a pro-government Arabic language daily, also
published a column on the subject, claiming "a story like this,
printed in two major press publications, is most likely to be true."
The piece did "question the motives behind the U.K. and France,"
however, postulating that the story was "intended as a test balloon
by the governments of Britain and France."
4. (U) Al-Ayam, an independent daily, also ran a commentary on the
supposed new Anglo-French stance, asking "what does it all mean?"
In the column, the paper claimed the move to be "a strategic tactic"
by the two countries, which have "realized that the ICC case will
impede the peace process in Sudan." The author continued that
"Britain and France will come up with a deal... in return for their
support for President Bashir, there will be house arrests or trials
for Haroun and Kushayb, and international observers may come to
Sudan to assist the judicial committee investigating war crimes in
Darfur." Concluding the piece, the paper claimed, without further
clarification, that "this new deal will be conveyed by the U.S.
administration through Special Envoy Richard Williamson."
5. (U) Giving a hint of balance to the coverage was Akhbar Al-yom,
which had a feature article on its front page entitled "News and
Secrets." In the article, it wrote that the Sudanese Ministry of
Foreign Affairs was "requesting its Missions in London and Paris to
look into the speculations" and quoted MFA Spokesman Ali Al-Sadig as
saying he "could not confirm... the British stance but had contacted
the concerned parties in both countries requesting a clarification
on their latest stance."
6. (SBU) COMMENT: Delusional at best, the Sudanese regime and the
Khartoum press corps seem to be grabbing at straws for any way out
of the ICC indictment although this time they seem to have had help
in the presumably more responsible UK quality press. This latest
round of coverage comes after last week's claim that "China would
step in" to block the indictment with a veto, something that is not
even technically possible (this week, the media has backed down on
this idea.) Media attention to the ICC issue as a tool of the
regime to put pressure on the West (and propose possible solutions)
will likely increase during the UN General Assembly meeting next