When a Coup D’état is a Relief
The deposition of Robert Mugabe, the tyrannical president of Zimbabwe in Southern Africa of the last 37 years, occurred on November 15. Mugabe, 93, was grooming his wife Grace, 42 years his junior, to succeed him when he would eventually give up the presidency, only in the case of his death. This apparently irked restive members of the military who have now taken the former president into custody.
Mugabe remains under house arrest and the military gave him until Monday, November 20, to resign or face impeachment. He resigned rather than face impeachment. There was widespread celebration in the streets and relief from a population that had been subjected to years of oppression and where a climate of fear reigned.
The event is being cautiously welcomed by those who have witnessed this country, once an aspiration for Bob Marley and Stevie Wonder music celebrating the dream of the post-colonial multi-racial democracy that Mugabe had apparently fought for, descend into an abusively misruled economic basket case.
Robert Mugabe came to power in 1980 after leading an armed rebellion to end white minority colonial rule when the country was known as Rhodesia, Mugabe was much admired and Zimbabwe a bastion of progressive rule compared to the heinous apartheid regime in full swing next door in South Africa.
Of the struggle, Marley sung:
Every man gotta right to decide his own destiny,
And in this judgement there is no partiality.
So arm in arms, with arms, we’ll fight this little struggle,
‘Cause that’s the only way we can overcome our little trouble.
When independence came, Stevie Wonder sang with joy
Peace has come to Zimbabwe
Third World’s right on the one
Now’s the time for celebration
‘Cause we’ve only just begun
But in his second decade of power, Mugabe became more oppressive and fond of power to the point of exploiting the various ethnic divisions in the society, including expropriation of white owned farms that were given to his political vassals. Other foolhardy economic decisions led to galloping inflation and widespread impoverishment as the GDP shrunk alarmingly. It is estimated that three to four million Zimbabweans have left the country, the bulk of them settling in South Africa, now a thriving multi-racial democracy.
The future is undefined and whenever a dictator is removed in a multi-ethnic society, division that was kept under the wraps could emerge, as that which tore Yugoslavia apart with the death of Tito and is still ravaging Iraq since the US invasion and the death of Saddam Hussein. Hopefully Zimbabweans sunny disposition will be rewarded with the prosperity and democracy they deserve.
The Islamic Civil War in Yemen
Thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people are apparently on the verge of starvation in Yemen as a result of the vicious civil war wracking the Middle East’s poorest country. The Shia Muslim Houthi rebels are fighting a Saudi Arabia led coalition representing the interests of the Sunni majority of the country. Saudi Arabia has blockaded the ports through which essential international aid passes on its way to the communities decimated by the conflict. A cholera epidemic has also broken out yet most of the world doesn’t even know about this horrendous humanitarian crisis where 50,000 children have already died this year.
This is just one more forum for the ongoing conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and indicative of the simmering civil war between the two main factions of Islam, the Sunnis (with the great majority estimated as high as 90%) and Shiites, of which Iran has by far the largest concentration. The schism occurred over differences in opinion over the succession of Prophet Mohammed.
Both Iran and Saudi Arabia are funding proxies throughout the Middle East. Iran funds the extremely influential Hezbollah Shiite militia in Lebanon and directly supports the Alawite (Shiite) regime of Bashar Assad in Syria while Saudi Arabia props up the Sunni minority regime in Bahrain. Complicating this feud are Al-Qaeda and other terrorists groups whose Sunni fundamentalism is in line with much of Saudi religious thought, and who often attack and kill Shia populations throughout the Muslim world, yet who are bitterly opposed to the Saudi monarchy.
All this conflict is a bonanza for the arms dealers throughout the world while thousands of Muslims unnecessarily die every year. And mostly in the name of religion.