We end the year and embark on a fresh one with signal actions that remind us that the world is still very much alive and kicking, and that life on this our Earth is bound to continue being interesting till the “last syllable of recorded time.” (Macbeth)
It is interesting that Arsene Wenger, the embattled and clueless manager of Arsenal football club, can now ask if anyone of his peers at Chelsea, Liverpool or Manchester City ever coached a future head of state. The world will surely pardon him for his impatience when he prematurely congratulated George Weah after just the first round of the Liberian election, but he was eventually right on the money.
It is interesting that Robert Mugabe is no longer president of Zimbabwe and that he was replaced by Emmerson Mnangagwa, the vice-president he sacked, in a coup whose military organisers insisted was not one, but who are now the mainstay of the government set up by said sacked VP.
It will also be interesting to see what the new top honcho in Harare will do with his old comrade, seeing as the two are thick as thieves when it comes to crimes they may or may not have committed against sections of the Zimbabwean people.
It is definitely interesting that Aung San Suu Kyi, the once admired icon of Myanmar’s struggle for democracy, can now be considered fit to stand trial in The Hague for crimes against humanity regarding her country’s shabby treatment of Rohingya Muslims, who have been killed, raped and expelled from their burnt down villages in their thousands, while she watched in silence. From hero to zero, one might say.
Quite interesting that South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa managed to defy President Jacob Zuma and beat the latter’s ex-wife to the presidency of the African National Congress, thus becoming virtually the country’s president-in-waiting till 2019.
The question is whether Ramaphosa will sack Zuma from the presidency (there is a precedent to this, set by Zuma himself) before he finishes his term, or impeach him, or maybe both?
But probably the most interesting year-ender is the glaring unpopularity of the United States of America, newly exposed by the United Nations General Assembly vote on the illegality of the decision by the Trump administration to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.
If anything showed how isolated and friendless the US and Israel are, it is that vote where only nine countries dared to openly side with Trump. Interesting also that the countries in Trump’s corner are Togo, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands, Guatemala, Honduras and Israel. You could miss most of them on the world map and still be a good geography student.
The slap in Trump’s face was self-inflicted, mainly because of his knowledge of world affairs. Nations do not easily swallow naked threats to their dignity (unless they are called Togo or Palau, or something), and they will sometimes want to give you a bloody nose just because you sounded domineering.
Nikki Haley, the openly arrogant diplomat representing the Trump administration at the UN, does not even seem to know the cajoling language that would have saved her a few votes.
And she didn’t even seem to understand that by threatening US wrath against those who would vote against Trump, she was at the same time addressing the poor beggars from Africa as well as Britain, France, Germany, Norway, Korea, Japan and so on.
Now, the US government has decided to cut its contributions to the UN by some $285 million. Which is another move that will send all the right signals that Trump is angry at the expressed will of the world.
He is apparently cutting himself from any lifeline that would still give him some semblance of relevance.
With his decision on Jerusalem, he has effectively edited the US out of any Middle East peace process for the foreseeable future; the financial pullback will most likely mean America’s pet projects will suffer, but that will not kill the United Nations.
The world is all too familiar with the cajoling and threatening of the US government, from way back during the era of the Truman Doctrine, through the more recent days of the Bushes and the Gulf wars, to the “America First” no-brainers of President Trump and Ms Haley.
Jenerali Ulimwengu is chairman of the board of the Raia Mwema newspaper and an advocate of the High Court in Dar es Salaam. E-mail: [email protected]