By ABBA MAHMOOD –
Just take a look at any news outlet today; you may think that only where you are sitting is peaceful. There is total chaos and turmoil everywhere, as clearly a new global architecture is about emerging from all these crises.
For Africa there are three different opinions on what its future is supposed to be, according to the current world powers. There are those who are of the belief that Africa should be nuclear-free, not industrialized and backward. There are those who believe that Africa should be helped to develop as the other continents of the world. The third opinion is that Africa should be a buffet where every emerging and established power can come and grab whatever they want from it.
Regardless of how anyone looks at it, these three views on Africa were expressed by a highly regarded policymaker at an international conference in a developed country last year. It is left for African leaders to determine what the future is for the Africans. But, personally, with the illegal migrations across hazardous terrains by African youth which has now put them into modern-day slavery; with HIV/AIDS and other diseases devastating a lot of the continent’s population; with the poor indices of basic human development of a majority of the continent’s population, there is a lot to be done if Africa is to be relevant in the 21st century.
Then you look at the Middle East which has always been a centre of conflict since the end of the Second World War. The initial crisis was defined as Arab versus Israelis but these are cousins who descended from once ancestor, Abraham. Every Jew has Arab blood and every Arab is related to the Jews by blood, so I really do not understand the fight. Then it became a so-called Shia/Sunni fight with the Saudis leading the Sunni while Iran is said to be leading the Shia. But there is no reference to Sunni or Shia in the Quran or the Hadith. There is only Islam, and if both these so-called sects are adherents of this same religion, I do not understand this fight which has led the UN recently to describe Yemen as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today. There must be something else and not religion that is motivating the current conflicts in the Arab Middle East. This conflict can never be religious or ethnic because they are all Arab and Muslim. It is indeed political.
In the richest country in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia, a young man, Mohammed Bn Salman, was appointed Crown Prince by his father King Salman of Saudi Arabia. He is the brain behind the Saudi fight in Yemen, the poorest Arab country, as well as the political crisis in Lebanon, one of the most liberal Arab countries. The Prince is not done yet as he has ordered the arrest of many top clerics, businessmen and princes of Saudi Arabia. It reminds me of what happened some years back in our neighbouring country, Niger republic, where a former leader there was ordering the arrest of many people, instilling fear into everyone there. Unknown to them, he was already mad as he was later diagnosed with brain tumour!
Then you take a look at the Korean Peninsula where another young man, Kim Jong Un of North Korea, is having a field day with an old man Donald Trump of the US. Kim has rushed to acquire nuclear weapon which he sees as his only insurance against being disgraced by the world powers. He saw what happened to Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. The US was the leading nation in the world until Trump was elected president. Trump wants to isolate America from the rest of the world but he wants the world to back America against North Korea, which is a contradiction. If there was no immigration Trump would not have been an American citizen — his grandfather migrated from Germany to the US. America is a country of immigrants built by immigrants. But you can trust the American institutions will take care of him. In Europe there is crisis with Brexit in UK and some separatist tendencies in other European countries such as Spain.
From there you go down to Asia where the two major Asian powers – India and China – are grappling with pollution menace. China has seen a phenomenal rise in economic prosperity but at the expense of its own environmental safety and even the environment of other parts of the world that it is dealing with. India is also a rising power and the largest democracy in the world but its admirable management of diversity is being threatened of recent with the rise of micro nationalism under Prime Minister Modi. Indians have contributed to global development and many Third World countries look up to India as a model but it has to continue with its well-known and cherished respect for pluralism inherited from its ancient culture and traditions. But Delhi, one of the greenest cities, is threatened by pollution which has to be addressed quickly.
In Latin America there is brewing crisis. An oil-rich nation, Venezuela, is embroiled in socio-economic and political crisis that is threatening the very foundation of the country. It is an example of the paradox of many resource-rich nations – rich nation with poor people. Brazil and Argentina are all going through trying times politically. Cuba is undergoing a transition period that may see the end of the Castro brothers’ hold on power there. It is a pregnancy whose outcome no one can say now.
What comes out of all these clearly is that the world is undergoing a period of great turmoil which is like the pain leading to the birth of a new global order. The cure for disorder is order; the cure for injustice is justice; the cure for lack of peace is peace; and the cry of the oppressed is always heard by nature. What is about to come out of all these may not be clearly discernible to analysts and policymakers right now, but an outline is emerging. Thus, from all the indicators available to us, we are heading towards a three-tier global architecture with North America, Europe and Japan at the top; Brazil, Russia, China, India in the middle; and the rest of the world at the bottom of the pyramid. It is still roughly the current global power configuration but it may soon be institutionalized. And history is always on the side of the oppressed.