Look like the move to the US embassy in Khartoum has paid off for Meriam Ibrahim, the young Christian mother sentenced to death for her faith in Sudan. Now out of the reach of Sudanese security forces, Reuters reports that Sudan has now begun negotiations to get Ibrahim and her family out of the country:
Sudanese authorities and U.S. officials in Khartoum are negotiating to allow a Sudanese woman, who married an American and was recently spared the death penalty for converting to Christianity, to leave Sudan, sources close to the case said. …
“There are talks going on currently between Sudanese and American officials to try to find a way for Mariam and her family to leave the country,” a source close to the case said asking not to be named as he was not authorized to talk to the media. … “The talks now are aiming to get her out of Sudan on a Sudanese passport,” the source said.
That’s the smart play for Sudan, even if they are getting dragged to the solution kicking and screaming. The US embassy is not going to let Ibrahim get taken by Sudanese security again, and they can keep her there as long as it takes. This is a stalemate that works in favor of the Ibrahims, and the longer it goes the more impotent the regime in Khartoum looks.
And that’s a problem for Omar al-Bashir and his regime in general already. AFP marks the 25th anniversary of Bashir’s “salvation” Islamist junta in Sudan, which has been a regional disaster. The case of Meriam Ibrahim just shines a particularly bright spotlight on a brutal and kleptocratic government whose thirst for war may only be exceeded by the personal greed of the ruling elite:
Bashir, 70, is accused of war crimes in the Darfur region and has maintained power despite internal divisions within his ruling National Congress Party (NCP).
He presides over a country where the number of people needing food and other aid rose 40 percent over the past year and millions have been displaced by the wars and unrest which have touched about half of Sudan’s states.
The country’s image sank even lower in May when a judge sentenced a pregnant Christian woman to hang for “apostasy”, a ruling later overturned but which sparked an outcry from Western governments and human rights groups.
Sudan is bereft of hard currency, internationally isolated and billions of dollars in debt, ranking near bottom in global measures of human development, perceived corruption and press freedom.
Many of Sudan’s 34 million people live in houses made of mud brick while workers put the final touches to a new presidential palace near the banks of the Blue Nile.
Needless to say, Sudan has lots of other problems more pressing than recapturing Ibrahim on whatever trumped-up charges they can find. However, this litany of outrages may explain why the Bashir regime has refused to quietly allow Ibrahim to leave Sudan and end the international scrutiny the case has brought. Their only constituency outside of those that Bashir’s party can bribe is probably the hard-line Islamists who see Ibrahim as a test case to Bashir’s commitment to shari’a law. If Khartoum had shrugged off Ibrahim, they might have found themselves even more isolated — and that may make it difficult for the US to pin Sudan down on a deal to let Ibrahim leave, too. We’ll see.