THE year 2017 has proved to be a very disappointing year for most people around the world. Starting with Donald Trump as the president of the most powerful country in the globe so many things simply went from bad to worse and beyond.
We, as global citizens, have miserably failed to stop the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar. Nearly 7,00,000 Rohingyas have been forced to leave their ancestral homes in the Arakan (Rakhine) state of Myanmar because of the state-sponsored genocidal pogroms of Myanmar government and its murderous Buddhists there. More than 14,000 Rohingyas were also murdered, let alone tens of thousands of females that were raped by members of Buddhist community. The sufferings of the Rohingyas who have managed to flee, according to international human rights groups, ‘are nothing in comparison to those who have been left behind, who are unable to move since they’re too old or don’t have the finances to pay people or traffickers to traffic them out of the area’. We know genocide is happening there and we know how to stop it but there’s no political will. The international community, shamelessly, continues to drag its feet while people are dying in large numbers. It is a dark chapter in human history that can’t be whitewashed later with excuses!
Tens of thousands of Syrians and Iraqis also died due to the on-going mess that was created by George W Bush by invading Iraq in 2003. Scores of ancient towns and cities have been destroyed to defeat the nihilist ISIS forces. While the strength of the ISIS has been reduced significantly in those two countries, their messages via social media remain a threat to any country and its people, exciting mentally deranged or intellectually vulnerable people to volunteer for their nihilist cause. Examples of such deranged activities were witnessed in parts of Europe and failed attempts in the United States.
Thanks to the Saudi-US Alliance, Yemen is in flames. The United Nations’ humanitarian aid official in Yemen said a year ago that the civilian death toll in the nearly two-year conflict had reached 10,000, with 40,000 others wounded. I am sure the casualty figures are much higher now. Even the hospitals and infirmaries are not immune from war crimes of MBS and Donald Trump. The Saudi-led military coalition’s blockade of Yemen could lead to ‘the largest famine the world has seen for many decades with millions of victims,’ Mark Lowcock, the UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, warned recently. The UN estimates that some 17 million Yemenis are in urgent need of food, 7 million of whom are facing famine. The outbreak and spread of cholera in the country has reportedly infected nearly 900,000 and cost some 2,000 lives.
North Korea has been able to successfully demonstrate its nuclear capability, threatening its neighbours to the south and east — South Korea and Japan, and even the continental USA. Trump’s hard talking has not delivered any positive outcome.
Trump’s win has invigorated racists and bigots around the globe to widen the conflict along racial and religious lines. The fascists are on the rise in Europe and many parts of our world. Accordingly, the hate crimes directed, particularly against Muslims are on an all-time high. As we have repeatedly seen throughout history, such hateful messages always rebound back. US congressman Steve Scalise (R-La) was attacked by a racist white gunman who opened fire on a congressional baseball game. Another white gunman killed 25 in a US church. It was the 153rd mass shooting of the year in the US, in just 165 days of the first half of 2017. At least 58 people were killed and more than 515 injured when a trigger-happy, well-planned, rich, white American fired on a crowd of 30,000 gathered on the Las Vegas Strip for the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival; the casualty figures show that it was the worst in American history. However, as usual, since these criminals were Christians and white, terrorism was ruled out. Media do not even mention their names anymore!
Under the BJP rule, India is showing its ugly fascist face rather unapologetically. Hundreds of Muslims have been lynched to death by Hindutvadi fascists under the name of ‘gau-rakhsha’ or saving cow. Fears around ‘love jihad,’ a supposed form of religious warfare by which Muslim men lure Hindu women away from the faith, have grown several folds in recent years and are being exploited by Hindu fascists to foment unrest in many parts of India. In the past year, there have been selective bans — on films that are deemed to be sacrilegious, and on eating beef — while extremist Hindu mobs run wild. Modi has used Twitter to respond quickly to tragedies in other parts of the world, but so rarely talks about the religious eruptions in the country he governs, such as the lynching of Muslims in BJP-ruled states, that his merely acknowledging them makes news. Not surprisingly, the destruction of Muslim properties and houses of worship has become a regular phenomenon in many parts of India. Kashmiris continue to be denied of their legitimate human rights and the right to plebiscite by the occupied Indian forces. As a matter of fact, violence against disempowered Muslim minorities seems as Indian as tandoori chicken in Modi’s India. Gandhi who led nonviolence movement is no longer relevant. It is difficult to find a single Gandhi in today’s India!
2017 also got a glimpse of culture of sexual harassment and assault that has become so pervasive in the west. The allegations were not limited to guys like Harvey Weinstein of Hollywood alone. Nearly half a million women in the west signed up in the social media to say ‘Me Too’ to show the gravity of the problem. Many media icons — Matt Lauer, Louis CK, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Spacey and Charlie Rose — once perceived to be decent human beings have proven to be sex perverts. Even the ex-president Sr Bush, George W’s father has been found to be a sex pervert. And of course, the least said about the current president Trump the better. He is in a league of his own!
As noted by Laurie Penny in a recent Time magazine article, cognitive dissonance is a hell of a drug. ‘It smothers the senses of societies that claim to despise sexual predators and yet keep giving them awards and electing them to office.’
Trump has withdrawn the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change. He has revoked a slew of Obama-era policies meant to stem greenhouse-gas emissions. He has repealed the Clean Power Plan, a landmark rule that would have made the United States grid less reliant on coal. And he has declined to seek any kind of climate-protecting measure in the new GOP tax bill, despite the many alumni of the Reagan administration pleading for it. He has called climate change — in part a triumph of the American scientific enterprise — a ‘hoax’ ‘created by and for the Chinese.’
Last year’s 2015-2016 report showed that year was ‘by far’ the warmest in the observational records, which date back to 1900. The 2016-2017 period was significantly cooler — but still the second-hottest year since 1900. Trump, a sceptic on Global Warming twitted: ‘In the East, it could be the coldest new year’s eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old global warming that our country, but not other countries, was going to pay trillions of dollars to protect against. Bundle up!’
Perhaps Trump has forgotten that his native New York suffered three heat waves by late July this year, or that a ‘normal’ summer now would count as a ‘hot’ summer during the 20th century. Scorching temperatures have vanished not because global warming has stopped, but because it is the winter, which every preschooler knows as the ‘cold season.’ Trump is in denial that there is, in fact, a connection between global warming and the current frigid weather across the United States. It is not too much of an exaggeration to say it is warmer than normal almost everywhere right now except for Canada and the northern United States.
At home, Trump has kept his promise of further enriching his rich corporate buddies by lowering their tax burden in the recently passed tax bill, which is bound to worsen condition for most not-so-rich families. He has also repealed the Obamacare, which is expected to make it difficult for many low-income Americans to get the necessary health care at an affordable price.
Finally, Trump’s preposterous Jerusalem declaration is probably the worst international blunder he has committed in his first year of presidency. It was like a Christmas presentation to his Judeo-Christian Evangelical base and a Hanukkah present to the extremist Zionists like Sheldon Adelson and Benjamin Netanyahu who believe that the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would pave the way for the construction of a Third Jewish Temple in the same place the Second Temple had been before it was demolished in 70 CE by the Romans. ‘There have been amazing advances towards bringing the Temple this year. It was clear that Trump was part of that process, guided by Hashem [God],’ said Asaf Fried, official spokesman for the United Temple Movement, an association lobbying for the Third Temple’s construction on the Temple Mount.
Not surprisingly, some Jews and Judeo-Christians see Trump’s announcement, and, in fact, Trump himself as hastening the long-awaited coming of the Messiah. To be sure, Trump did little to dispel the sense that something of biblical significance was in fact taking place. But just as the Haaretz has questioned: whose Messiah is Trump hastening? Is it the fundamentalist Israeli vision of a return to a Jewish kingdom and priesthood reminiscent of the Old Testament? Or is it the Evangelical belief in the return of Jesus Christ and the conversion of all the Jews to born-again Christian doctrine and faith?
Nonetheless, Trump’s decision is sure to bolster the extremist Zionists with their criminal land-grabs further worsening the Palestine-Israel crisis. As part of the payback, Israel’s transportation minister is pushing ahead with a plan to dig a railway tunnel under Jerusalem’s Old City, passing near sites holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims — and ending at the Western Wall with a station named after Trump.
Yisrael Katz proposed naming the station after Trump ‘for his brave and historic decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital’. Digging railway tunnels to the Western Wall would also entail excavating in Jerusalem’s Old City, where religious and political sensitivities — as well as layers of archaeological remains from the city’s 3,000-year history — could make for a logistical and legal quagmire.
Many see Trump as a precursor to Dajjal (anti-Christ). The Palestinians have said, and rightly so, that they won’t accept the USA as a mediator any more to resolve the crisis. ‘It means the death knell of any peace process,’ said Hanan Ashrawi, an executive committee member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
As expected, Trump’s controversial decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was dealt a blow when 128 countries — almost two-thirds of the 193 member states — of the United Nations General Assembly member states backed its motion to brand his unilateral move as ‘null and void’.
Only the coming days will show what is next in Trump’s diabolical plan. Will he make the world a living hell? Will he make it worse by going to war against Iran — or letting the Saudi-alliance fight it — at the behest of Netanyahu in order to make Israel the supreme power of the region?
Perhaps, not everything was lost! Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe resigned in November, bringing an end to 37 years of rule and sparking jubilant celebrations in the nation’s streets. He and his wife will receive a ‘golden handshake’ worth many millions of dollars as part of a deal negotiated before the resignation.
Is that the going rate for despots and mass murderers to relinquish their grip over power? Will the tyrants, Mugabe-heavies and lights, of our world consider such an option to ease the pains of their suffering masses in 2018?
Dr Habib Siddiqui is a peace and rights activist.
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