Legal experts suspicious of ICC motives on Jordan and Bashir

Legal experts suspicious of ICC motives on Jordan and Bashir. (AFP)
Updated 11 December 2017

Legal experts suspicious of ICC motives on Jordan and Bashir

AMMAN: Jordanian political and legal experts as well as human rights experts have questioned the motives behind the International Criminal Court (ICC) move to censure Jordan for not arresting Sudanese President Omar Bashir while attending the Arab Summit in Jordan last March.
Jordanian constitutional lawyer Mohammed Hammouri said that claims that Jordan did not cooperate with the ICC had no "actionable power" to it, noting that tens of similar decisions were taken against Israel that were not executed.
Speaking to the independent website Jordan24, the former minister of justice said that he was surprised by the claim against Jordan. “Omar Bashir has traveled to many locations in recent months and years and there has been no movement by the International Criminal Court," he said. "This action and its timing is very strange.”
The US and most Western powers have softened toward Bashir in recent years due to his decision to cooperate with them in the campaign against Daesh.
Former Jordanian Foreign Minister Kamel Abu Jaber was more blunt, saying he was certain that "Zionist hands" were behind the move. “This is not an innocent move, there are suspicious Zionist hands behind it.”
Abu Jaber dismissed the calls as worthless, saying that the US and Israel were not even members of the ICC.
Jordanian MP Tarek Khoury told Arab News that the move against Jordan should be a lesson to the government about the kind of allies it wanted. “At the very moment that Jordan has tried to act independently, the allies of Jordan, specifically the Americans, are now trying to punish our leadership for taking a position different from them on a case as important as Jerusalem.”
Muhannad Alazzeh, an international legal and human rights expert, told Arab News that there were legal and political ways to look at the case. As a principle, the Rome Statute, which regulates the working of the ICC, requires participating countries to cooperate. “Clause 7B of Article 87 stipulates that cases of countries who don’t cooperate with the court can be turned over to the Security Council,” he said.
Alazzeh, however, pointed out a legal loophole. “Clause 6 from Article 93 specifies that this applies to any member country that refuses to honor a request issued to it by the court or its prosecutor. Therefore, the key question is whether the court has made a specific request to Jordan to arrest Bashir while he was in the country last March and whether it refused to honor such a request.”
Alazzeh, a former member of the Jordanian Senate, told Arab News that the more important part of the case was the political nature of it. “Bashir was in Jordan more than six months ago and nothing was made of it. The fact that this is being discussed now raises a question about the true motivation behind it. If the goal of the ICC is to carry out justice and to arrest Bashir as a wanted individual, why has it been silent for all this period?”
Alazzeh also said that the Human Rights Watch and the Human Rights Commissioner spoke on this issue last March but the court was silent then. “It seems to me that the move reflects the fact that the Jordanian people and officials are in sync in opposing the US position on Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”
Reuters said on Monday that the ICC is considering referring Jordan to the UN Security Council for failing to arrest Bashir when he visited Amman in March.
The court had issued arrest warrants for Bashir in 2009 and 2010 over his alleged role in war crimes including genocide in Sudan’s Darfur province. Jordan, as a member of the ICC, is obliged to carry out its arrest warrants.
But Jordan is not known to have rejected any direct request to extradite Bashir as the Rome Statues regulating the ICC requires.
The Security Council has the power to impose sanctions for a failure to cooperate with the ICC, but so far has not acted on the court referrals.


Rockets hit Iraq base hosting US troops, stoking concerns

Updated 12 min 34 sec ago

Rockets hit Iraq base hosting US troops, stoking concerns

  • Security sources said they believed Kataib Hezbollah was responsible
  • More than a dozen rockets hit the Qayyarah airbase in northern Iraq last month

BAGHDAD: Two rockets hit the Al-Balad air base, north of Baghdad, late Thursday, Iraqi security forces said, the latest in a flurry of attacks on bases hosting US troops that has alarmed US officials.
It came as Washington considers deploying between 5,000 and 7,000 fresh troops to the Middle East to counter its arch-foe Iran, a US official told AFP.
Thursday’s attack with Katyusha rockets did not cause any casualties or material damage but “came close,” a US official told AFP.
Washington has been concerned by a recent spate of attacks on Iraqi bases where some 5,200 US troops are deployed to help Iraqi forces ensure militants do not regroup.
The attacks, targeting either bases or the US embassy in Baghdad, have averaged more than one per week over the past six weeks.
“There is a spike in rocket attacks,” a second US official said, adding that although they had caused no US casualties and little damage, they were increasingly worrying.
Five rockets hit Al-Asad airbase on December 3, just four days after Vice President Mike Pence visited troops there.
Security sources said they believed Kataib Hezbollah, a powerful Shiite faction close to Tehran and blacklisted by Washington, was responsible.
More than a dozen rockets hit the Qayyarah airbase in northern Iraq last month, one of the largest attacks in recent months to hit an area where US troops are based.
There has been no claim of responsibility for the attacks and Washington has not blamed any particular faction.
But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blamed similar attacks on Iran-aligned groups.
Iran holds vast sway in Iraq, especially among the more hard-line elements of the Hashed Al-Shaabi, a paramilitary force largely made up of Shiite militias backed by Tehran.
Asked whether the repeated rocket attacks made the Hashed a bigger threat to US troops than the Daesh group, the official agreed.
“It is. The question is, when is someone going to call BS?” he said.
Multiple US diplomatic and military sources have told AFP of their growing frustration with such attacks.
They say they are relying on their Iraqi partners to play a “de-conflicting” role between them and the Hashed to prevent any clashes.
That is a complicated task, as the Hashed has been ordered to integrate with the regular security forces but many of its fighters continue to operate with some independence.
“We all recognize the danger out here. Sometimes our Iraqi partners say, well what can I do?” the official said.
Tensions between Iran and the United States have soared since the Washington pulled out of a landmark nuclear agreement with Tehran last year and reimposed crippling sanctions.
Baghdad — which is close to both countries and whose many security forces have been trained by either the US or Iran — is worried about being caught in the middle.