UN Vote on Sudan Tests Turkish-US Ties

ISTANBUL (Hurriyet)–Despite winds of optimism on the future of Turkish-American relations, the first fissure between the two governmen’s 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 Sensoy 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.

Turkey is known to be against the trial of al-Bashir, arguing it will not contribute to peace in the country. Turkey, which denies its own 1915-1923 genocide against the indigenous Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire, argues that the arrest warrant for al-Bashir could have a negative impact on efforts to stabilize the conflict-torn country.

Turkey’s position clearly diverges from that of the Western countries and its stance comes amid discussions in Western capitals whether Turkey is drifting apart from Western values.

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