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Embattled Sudanese President Bashir Expected in Cairo Wednesday

In a show of defiance of the recent international arrest warrant issued by international Criminal Court (ICC), Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir is expected to be in the Egyptian capital, Cairo today for a state visit. This would be Bashir's second trip abroad after visiting Eritria on Monday, shortly after the ICC issued its arrest warrant earlier this month. The Sudanese president faces arrest when he leaves Sudan because of the warrant issued for him by the Hague-based court. Some political analysts believe Bashir does not fear an arrest in Egypt due to the strong diplomatic ties with neighboring leaders.

Claude Salhani is the editor for Middle East times. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that no Arab country will enforce the arrest warrant against President Bashir.

"I think he (Bashir) is trying to make a point by showing that he can travel outside his country after the International Court came down with the decision to hold him accountable for the massacres in Darfur. And Sudan has always been a close ally of Egypt and vice versa, so I think he feels that is one of the few countries he can go to safely without risking being arrested or detained on the orders of the Criminal Court," Salhani noted.

He said the trip to Cairo could be aimed at his people in Sudan to say he isn't afraid of charges against him as he continues to maintain power.

"He wants to show that he is his own man. He wants to show that he is not abiding by the decision of the criminal court and that he doesn't concern himself with it. And that he wants to show that yes, I can travel I can go and come back and nobody can stop me and I think that is what he is trying to show. And it is important for him to show that particularly to his own constituents to his own people back in Sudan to say you see all these decisions are made in The Hague and in other countries and capitals of Europe and other parts of the word do not concerns us," he said.

Salhani said there are reasons to believe that Cairo would welcome President Bashir with open arms.

"I think it would really depend on what the Egyptian government wants to demonstrate to him because as has been proven in the past, crowds in Egypt are often on demand. They are set up or encouraged to greet dignitaries so it doesn't really mean anything. If the Egyptian government wants to show that they are giving him a warm welcome they will do so, but if they don't want to do that they will keep the crowds away," Salhani pointed out.

The Hague-based ICC on March 4 issued an arrest warrant against the Sudanese president, which is the first against an incumbent head of state since the court was established in July 2002.

Washington Tuesday said it was it was under no legal obligation to act on an International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant and arrest President Bashir.

Meanwhile, Qatar's prime minister and foreign minister unanimously expressed their country's readiness to receive the embattled Sudanese leader if he chooses to participate in the upcoming Arab summit meeting in Doha later this month. Qatar yesterday also expressed support for Khartoum, saying that Doha hopes Sudan successfully resolves the Darfur issue, achieves the peace, and remains a united country supported and helped by other brotherly Arab countries.

Salhani said it would be unlikely that any Arab country will enforce the international arrest warrant against the Sudanese president citing among other things camaraderie.

"I don't think they will do that because it will not be out of solidarity, but I think out of fear for maybe for their own selves that one day this might be turned against them. I don't think anybody or any leader in the Arab world would want to see that happen because the ruling that came against President Bashir could very well be one against another in some part of the Middle East where there have been certain groups that have been subjected to heavy-handed discrimination, let's say. And so it is something that they all think about very clearly," Salhani pointed out.

He said Tripoli has warned other Arab leaders that they may face similar fates in the future.

"I would point you to one thing that, and I'm not somebody who would want to quote Libyan leader Col Muammar al-Qaddafi, shortly after Saddam Hussein was executed, he told all the Arab leaders that be careful this may happen to you as well," he said.

Some Sudanese Islamic scholars recently warned President Bashir not to travel to an Arab summit in Qatar at the end of March. The Sudanese government said shortly after the ICC decision that Bashir would defy the arrest warrant by travelling to the Arab summit in Doha and later confirmed the visit by accepting the invitation from Qatar's government.

The conflict in Darfur escalated after non-Arab rebels took up arms against the government, demanding better representation and accusing Khartoum of neglecting development of the region.