Decade of decay and deception Part II
By Ameen Izzadeen
The usual fireworks and revelry that welcomed 2011 seven days ago belied the emptiness brought about by the absence of a genuine resolve by world powers to direct the course of the world politics on a path of justice and peace.
The new decade, it is sad to note, is just a continuation of the old decade of decadence, degradation, deception and duplicity.
As we survive the seventh day of the new decade, Ivory Coast is on the brink of a civil war after a disputed presidential election, as though the ongoing conflicts which are adding misery to the millions living in abject poverty were not enough.
The approach that the big powers of the Western world and their vassal United Nations Chief have adopted so far has only worsened Africa’s newest crisis. Are they incapable of coming up with a solution which will avert a civil war? Perhaps, a fresh election under the auspices of respected international polls observers may provide a way out. But every suggestion that the world powers and the UN chief have come up with has only hardened the resolve of President Laurent Gbagbo.
Ivory Coast plunged into chaos after the incumbent president lost the election and got the country’s constitutional council which he controls to annul the polls in the north on the claim that there was malpractice and declare him the winner.
Gbagbo’s rival Alassane Ouattara, who from his northern stronghold claims that he is the legitimate president, appealed to the international community. As the deadlock continues, the battle lines are being drawn.
This week the 10,000-strong United Nations peacekeeping force in Ivory Coast appealed to the UN Chief, asking for more troops in defiance of Gbagbo’s order for the UN troops to get out. In the meantime, the West African economic community, ECOWAS, egged on by western powers, mulls military intervention to oust Gbagbo.
One may hail the West’s and the UN’s interference in the Ivory Coast crisis as welcome efforts to defend democracy. But when these efforts become selective, they give rise to suspicion.
If the West is so concerned about democracy in the world, why didn’t it call for the annulment of last month’s Egyptian general elections which was a bigger sham? The elections saw Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party winning 95 percent of the seats. The rigging and the thuggery were so blatant that the main opposition Muslim Brotherhood, which had won 85 of the 400 plus seats at the last elections, was reduced to nothing in the first round of the vote. The Brotherhood, along with other opposition parties, withdrew from the second round contest while Mohammed El-Beradei, former chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, described Egypt as a failed state and called for a civil disobedience campaign to oust Mubarak’s corrupt regime. The canker of corruption has not left even religion untouched. Mubarak’s mullahs have issued a fatwa, calling for El-Baradei’s death as he has committed the sin of inciting rebellion against the ruler.
Yet, the thuggery and the worst-type of human rights violations practised by the Mubarak regime have drawn hardly a censure from US President Barack Obama or other leaders of the Western world. Egypt continues to receive US$ 2 in billion military and economic aid every year from the United States in return for its obeisance.
Egypt was also in the news as the decade of decadence drew to a close. On Christmas day, the evil hands of extremism carried out a bomb attack outside a Coptic church, killing scores of Christians, who constitute 10 percent of Egypt’s population. The carnage came weeks after attacks on Christian targets in Iraq and Nigeria and amidst a controversy in Pakistan over the death sentence slapped on a Christian woman for allegedly slandering the Prophet of Islam.
These attacks and controversies show a clear pattern aimed at shooting down the moves to build bridges between people of different faiths. They also come at a time when the support for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is fast waning. Thus the perpetrators are only helping the hawks to win the support of the masses in the Western world and carry on with their war agenda in line with Samuel Huntington’s dangerous theory of ‘the Clash of Civilisations’.
Part of this agenda is the Americanization of Christianity which goes hand in glove with what journalist and social activist Naomi Klein calls disaster capitalism. Pre-dominantly Catholic Haiti is a classic example where US evangelists backed by capitalist philanthropists have been winning new converts since they entered the country after an earthquake on January 12 last year killed more than 250,000 people. The capitalists, meanwhile, are exploiting the sweatshop labour force in the quake-devastated and disease-hit Haiti which is virtually a US-controlled territory today.
In this context, it is only doomsday predictions that one can make for the new decade however much one wishes to be optimistic. The greed for wealth and resource-rich land will keep much of West Asia in a war-like situation. Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Korean peninsula and the South China Sea will remain flashpoints while Yemen could emerge as a new theatre of conflict in the war on terror. With Sudan likely to be divided in a referendum on Sunday, disputes over newly-found oil deposits in southern Sudan and the sharing of Nile’s water may lead to hostility among African nations. If one needs news to cheer one up, there is, of course, a royal wedding in Britain in April.
(This article also appeared in the Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka)