The year 2002 may well see terrible potentially catastrophic destruction in many parts of the world, including the Sub-continent, the Arabian Peninsula, and the area of the Middle East once known as the Holy Land. The conflicts in these regions are not being settled, they are in fact being inflamed. And the historic expansion of the American “War Against Terrorism” into an excuse to enforce a Pax America creates a situation of unending tension in the years now immediately ahead.
In the current political climate, terrorism is the bogeyman and any country can garner sympathy and indeed acquire legitimacy to violate international borders and human norms simply by labelling any legitimate struggle as “terrorism”. In escalating his terrorism against the Palestinians, General Sharon has called Palestinian President Yasser Arafat a “Bin Ladin”; and now India is calling the Kashmiris “terrorists”.
While Yasser Arafat one more time promises his people a “State in 2002” — a promise he has made going back to 1988 at least — the real action at the moment is taking place in the sub-continent as well as with U.S. preparations to bring down the regime in Baghdad and further threaten and cower the important Muslim regimes in Tehran and Islamabad. The “Palestinian State” to which Arafat is now being tortuously forced by the U.S. and Israel may be a fiction that will save him and his miserable regime for another few years, or even more; but it is a terrible disaster for the Palestinian people and their long quest for meaningful self-determination, justice, and freedom from occupation.
Israel’s actions demonstrate an unwillingness to dismantle the racist, Zionist regime. The daily killings of civilians, arresting of leaders, and closures of towns, are meant to fuel anger among Palestinians, thereby initiating a cycle of violence. When the occupation ends, there will be hope.
The US meanwhile, is actively blocking efforts by other states to examine Israel’s grave and continuous violations. This is likely to be seen by many observers as further incontrovertible proof of US complicity in and approval of Israel’s actions.
The rising tension in South Asia has claimed its first victim – media objectivity. As the fear of a war between the two nuclear powers of the region escalates and as hundreds of thousands of civilians on either side of the border flee from their homes, the media has presented a one-dimensional analysis of the conflict, which seems to vilify Pakistan and the Kashmiri freedom fighters.
Outsiders have always seen the history of Kashmir as a territorial dispute between two neighbouring states. No one remembers or entertains the fact that the Kashmiri struggle is all about the right of the Kashmiri people to self-determination.
The present reporting of tensions between India and Pakistan, specifically with reference to Kashmir, is almost completely devoid of any mention of the history of the conflict, especially the role of US and the UN. There is no mention that only India, which continues its occupation in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions, recognizes its occupation of Kashmir as legitimate.
Kashmir is the most heavily militarised zone in the world with India deploying one soldier for every 10 Kashmiri civilians. Indian security forces have killed 80,000 Kashmiris in the last ten years. The struggle for Kashmiri freedom cannot be rendered illegitimate by labelling it as terrorism. The Pakistan-India conflict over Kashmir is discussed without mentioning the human rights abuses committed by the 700,000 strong Indian Occupation Forces in Kashmir-acts that have been documented among others by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Moreover, the media rarely refer to UN resolutions reiterating Kashmiris’ right to self-determination.
War mongering groups both in America and in Israel are currently helping fan the flames of the likelier than not upcoming collision with Iraq. At the moment the U.S. is short of cruise missiles. At about $1.5 million a piece and using the latest sophisticated technology, these are the weapons of choice needed to take out what’s left of Iraq’s important military assets. America’s war to restructure the Middle East, a key element of which is to replace the government in Baghdad as has now been done in Kabul, will have to wait for Boeing to rush produce many more hundreds of these super weapons.
However, any attempt or any decision to attack Iraq will be unwise in that it can lead to a major escalation in the region. Former South African President Nelson Mandela has warned the United States and Britain not to extend their military campaign against terrorism to Iraq. Mandela also warned against Britain and the United States bypassing the UN in conducting of their ‘war against terrorism’ campaign. “That is extremely dangerous because they are introducing chaos into international affairs.”
We should not forget one crime against humanity in the last decade of the 20th century that exceeded all others in its magnitude and cruelty: the US-forced sanctions against the twenty million people of Iraq. If the UN again participates in such genocidal sanctions backed by the threat of military violence – and if the people of the world continue to prevent such conduct – then violence, terror and human misery of the coming years will exceed anything we have known.
No single country, whether it is the world’s only superpower – America; or whether it is the world’s only remaining settler colonial state – Israel; enjoys any unilateral rights to violate international conventions and thereby inflict untold hardship and misery on innocent people.