Spirit of Middle Eastern martyrs lives on

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As we continue to remember the martyrs massacred by Trump on 3 January 2020, Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis among them, Trump unceremoniously leaves office with a Middle East that is more divided and less safe – writes Muhammad Khalid Sayed MPL.

Trumpian havoc

The international community will take years to recover from the havoc caused by Donald Trump. His demise could not have been more timely.

In the wake of his mishandling of his nation’s Covid-19 response, Trump’s thoughts and actions sadly continue to inspire many across the globe, including here in South Africa, who put profit before people.

If livelihoods were the real concern, these leaders would have long challenged and in fact used the pandemic as an opportunity to disrupt gross inequality.

But not so, they continue to argue for livelihoods in the face of perpetuating this inequality.

To date, the USA has had over 19 million reported cases of Covid-19 infections and nearly 350 thousand people have died from the virus. This is nearly double the amount in deaths of the next leading country, Brazil, which currently has over 191 thousand deaths from Covid-19. Needless to mention that Brazil was one of the leading developing countries to adopt the Trumpian approach to fighting Covid-19. Yet Trump will not be missed for other reasons too.

A Middle East more divided

While unlike his predecessors he may not have started a new war, his foreign policy was a disaster for peace, stability and prosperity, especially in the Middle East.

At the end of his four year term, he achieved what nearly no other American president has achieved in the last four decades. Whether through blackmail or buying leaders across the region, Trump was able to get some of them to normalise relations with the colonialist and apartheid state of Israel.

While the US presidents before him, with the assistance of their other western allies were able to lay the foundations of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), remnants of which continue to plague not only the Middle East but other regions across the globe as well, Trump cowardly ordered the assassinations of Qasem Soleimani, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and their fellow fighters, who had dedicated themselves to fighting ISIS in the last few years of his life.

Today, ISIS, al-Qaeda and other insurgents remain a threat to the Middle East and the globe at large because of these cowardly attacks ordered by Trump.

A stronger Iran

On Saturday 26 December 2020, The Wall Street Journal carried an article titled: “Domestic Economy Is Lifeline for Iran.”

Though one must be weary of the agenda of this neo-liberal newspaper, a mouthpiece for the mainstream Democrats in the USA who also have a divisive agenda in the Middle East, the report suggests that today Iran is stronger, economically at least, because of the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration, after its unilateral withdrawal of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The report notes that: “Iranian companies are increasingly producing goods that Iran had long imported from abroad, while smaller, growing companies have picked up hiring…”

“Nimble small and medium-size companies,” the report continues, “are driving the growth of Iranian manufacturing. About 1,000 such enterprises have created or reinforced 17,000 jobs, the deputy head of Iran’s Small Industries and Industrial Parks Organisation told the IRNA state news agency last week.”

World Bank data indicates that Iranian GDP grew from just over US$417 billion, in 2016, to just under US$454 billion, in 2018; an increase of US$37 billion in two years.

While 2019 was not a good year economically, there was growth in the Iranian economy in the first quarter of 2020.

Yet we always knew this about Iran and the Iranian people. They are resilient. Whether it is faced with ISIS or threats from Israel or even sanctions, the people of Iran were going to emerge stronger from such challenges.

What must be objected to and condemned is the unjust and unilateral withdrawal of the US, under the Trump Administration, from the 2015 agreement.

When the so-called ‘super-power’ tears up an international multilateral agreement and displays such arrogance as the Trump administration did, then it gives smaller countries very little reason to uphold international agreements and keep their part of the bargain.

Not once did Iran contravene the terms of the 2015 JCPA.

Spirit of the martyrs of 3 January 2020 lives on

As we continue to remember the martyrs massacred by Trump on 3 January 2020, Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis among them, Trump unceremoniously leaves office with a Middle East that is more divided and less safe.

Yet the spirit of Major General Soleimani lives on in Iran and the spirit of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis lives on in Iraq.

Soon this spirit will overtake all in the Middle East, as the people of that region continue to throw off the shackles of imperialist interference and work towards a united, stable and prosperous region.

Muhammad Khalid Sayed MPL is the Deputy Chief Whip of the ANC in the Western Cape Provincial Legislature and is outgoing Provincial Chairperson of the ANC Youth League Western Cape. He writes in his personal capacity.