Government officials can easily dodge questions about the export of the spyware to Sudan.
It is true that the Greek government did not start the civil war in Sudan, as some conservative lawmakers from ruling New Democracy have said. But by making this statement, they just engage in the “straw man fallacy.” According to its definition, a straw man fallacy is “the distortion of someone else’s argument to make it easier to attack or refute. Instead of addressing the actual argument of the opponent, one may present a somewhat similar but not equal argument. By placing it in the opponent’s mouth and then attacking that version of the argument, one is essentially refuting an argument that is different from the one under discussion.”
What the main opposition had actually asked on April 17, was: “Did Ioannis Smyrlis (the Foreign Ministry’s former secretary general for international economic affairs and openness) authorize the export of the Predator spyware to Sudan, in addition to Madagascar, where it ended up in the hands of the RSF militia? Did the Mitsotakis government involve our country, even indirectly, in the civil war and bloodshed?”
But because SYRIZA has leveled baseless criticism against the government in the past (such as the accusation that the government “cemented” the Parthenon by creating a pathway to assist visitors with mobility limitations), New Democracy MPs can build the “straw man argument” without much trouble. Most people will believe it or even expect it. So government officials can easily dodge questions about the export of the spyware to Sudan. Was it sold to both sides of the civil war? Or just to one of them? We don’t know. All we know is that the way the judicial investigation into the wiretapping scandal is plodding along, we are never going to find out. At least, not in this lifetime.
But these questions must be answered and not only for reasons of democratic accountability. There are currently Greeks in Sudan who are in danger and the local warlords don’t care much about the ethnic backgrounds of those stuck in the country. If we gave this sophisticated weapon to both sides, it would be the lesser of two evils. They may respect those they consider as their “business partners.” But if it was given to only one side of the warring factions, things will take a darker turn.
So what business did we have in Sudan? Obviously, the Greek government does not have the grandiose visions of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who wants to establish his country as a “great power” where it has no business being. Rather, it was business logic that prevailed – exports are the government’s great pride – but they did not diligently check the political and diplomatic parameters of such a move. Thus, the government found itself in an awkward position, having to answer the reasonable questions of the main opposition while the country was embarrassed diplomatically before its enemies and allies.
Of course, shady software is usually exported to shady individuals for shady purposes – as long as they’re not too bloody. If the civil war in Sudan takes an even more nightmarish turn, the international press is bound to start reporting on the issue with headlines such as, “Who is arming the killers?”
Published in eKathimerini.com 24.4.2023