Opinion

The urgency for peace in the Middle East is not a matter of theory

The urgency for peace in the Middle East is not a matter of theory

Influential South African businessman and member of the World Economic Forum Board of Trustees, Patrice Motsepe’s public declaration of love for Donald Trump is embarrassing, given the ongoing aggression by the USA across the world, including on the African continent and in the Middle East. Mr Motsepe should have used his influence to call for cooperation around peace and sustainable development instead.

Having successfully gotten away with assassinating Qasem Soleimani and with refusing to withdraw troops from Iraq; the USA, through its special representative to Iran, Brian Hook, as recently as Wednesday, January 22, openly threatened to assassinate Esmail Ghaani, the new Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Quds Force commander. Though driven by resource-based interests, the USA’s presence in the Middle East is also at the behest of Israel.

The outcry for peace in the Middle East is not a theoretical exercise. Since 2001, more than two and a half million people have died in the region, including Syria, in conflict associated with the USA and Israel. This number is excluded from the approximately 20 million lives lost from USA-led wars in other parts of the globe since World War II.

The figures also exclude the millions that were injured and permanently disabled due to these conflicts. In Syria, alone, the UN estimates that as many as 2.8 million people suffered some kind of permanent disability during the past eight years. The Palestinian Bureau of Statistics estimates that more than 255,000 Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza Strip suffer from permanent disabilities. The number of displaced persons is also in the millions.

The citizens of the USA are unaffected and Israeli citizens have the benefit of counselling for the discomfort caused by the unrealisable possibility of missile hits, while thousands in the rest of West Asia, who suffer from their barbarism, do not have the opportunity to overcome their trauma. The victims in the countries targeted by these two aggressors remain haunted by irreparable psychological scars as they try to rebuild their lives.

The economies of those areas targeted by the so-called pre-emptive strikes of the USA and Israel and their sponsored rebel attacks, stagnate. In addition to having to deploy resources to defend their citizens, they also have to contend with the crippling grips of sanctions. Much of their once fertile soil is now littered with US and Israeli land mines and has been rendered uninhabitable. The damage to the socio-economic infrastructure, historical artefacts and pristine architecture is immeasurable.

It is lamentable that pointing out any wrong-doing by the Israeli government, in particular, drives people to irrational levels of emotiveness and blind defence. Exposing the human rights atrocities by the USA and Israel is not anti-Semitic. Calling on the International Criminal Court to exercise its mandate objectively and to investigate complaints against Israel does not preclude it from investigating violations elsewhere. Human rights abuses everywhere should be condemned and those responsible should unreservedly be held to account.  

The call for the USA and Israel to stop their aggression in the Middle East (and elsewhere for that matter) is not about pitting one religion or group against another. It seeks to challenge society to embrace a higher level of consciousness; to promote a humanity that respects and defends life within the context of equity and justice. 

Before jumping to defend the USA and Israel - pause, reflect, transcend that veil of defensiveness that blunts your humaneness, and appreciate that those millions of dead, were human beings. Imagine for a second the impact of those deaths on their family members and friends. Recall the millions who wept bitterly at the death of Qasem Soleimani. Allow yourself to understand the pain.

The atrocities should not be explained away through theses on the history of conflict in the Middle East. Regardless of how history may be viewed; regardless of complicity by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states; the reality of the impact of the conduct of the USA and Israel on human life in the Middle East cannot be ignored and certainly should not be defended.  

Shame on Patrice Motsepe for cowering to Donald Trump! The governments of the USA and Israel need to demonstrate that they are not entirely evil and end their facilitation of conflict in the Middle East. In fact, the USA should begin by respecting the sovereignty of states and immediately withdraw its troops from the region. Those who feel compelled to justify these gross crimes against humanity, should place themselves on the right side of history just this once, and join the call for peace in the Middle East.

A vision of a caring, just and peaceful world is only idealistic when we fail to collectively act towards its creation. I quote John Lennon, knowing that I am not a dreamer, for there are many who have had enough of war.

“Imagine all the people

Living life in peace... You...

You may say I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one

I hope someday you'll join us

And the world will be as one

Reneva Fourie is a policy analyst specialising in governance, development and security. She currently resides in Damascus, Syria.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of IOL.