It was scary at first. I had earlier thought of saying happy new year to our readers and all those men and women of goodwill who in their own way made the difference when we returned actively to the newsstands.
Somehow, the heat was so intense. So intense, our lips turned dry. It wasn’t the advent of the heat that trails the dry season, or the dryness of the cool harmattan breeze which occurs in this part of the world that was responsible.
Millions of kilometres away from where nature has placed us, we all could feel the heat as the drums of war intensified and the earth shook.
As suddenly as we had looked forth to a brand new year, what we had before us as January took a walk was a brand new fear.
From the blue, a weaponized drone crawled noiselessly through the sun-lit Iraqi sky towards its unsuspecting target at the Baghdad airport.
By the time the world new what was happening, Qaesam Soleimani, a General in the Iranian Army and those who were with him were blown away.
They were gone, swept away by the “rupture” that the new toy of war enabled by man created.
Washington whose experts had monitored the progress of the flying object from a nearby military base did not hesitate. They quickly claimed responsibility for the monstrous drone attack.
It was clearly a show of strength by the world’s Big Brother, and an attempt in some way to redefine codes of international behaviour. Even cultural sites spared by international law were not to be exempted in the wake of a new belligerent attitude that the powerful had tied to self defense.
The Iranians, startled by the attack on Iraqi soil and the death of one of its most influential citizens, swore vengeance.
For the Iranians, what had happened was undoubtedly an act of war and a continuation of acts of intimidation made in America for their suppression.
In no time, there were demonstrations in Iraq, Iran and anywhere Iran enjoys support on the streets.
There were attacks as well. A military base used by the Americans in Kenya came under fire. A couple of American contractors and soldiers were dead after the count was taken.
In Libya which has become a failed state, thanks to the Americans and the elimination of Ghadaffi, a military training institute was hit from the air..
The earth trembled.
Could this be the beginning of a global war? Could this be the beginning of the end for our world?
No one was sure. The tough talk by the Americans and the Iranians left many across the world breathless.
All of a sudden, there was fire; there was fury. Who would put off the flames of war? Who would assuage the flaming fury of men who had gotten used to having their way?
All of a sudden, man – architect of an arms race – appeared seemingly poised to bring calamity upon his own head at a time that nature, angry nature, is dealing a deadly blow elsewhere.
Australia, a continent where white settlers have almost completely extinguished the Aborigines have been on fire.
Attempts to put out the flames that have raged for months have yielded no fruit. Weather hasn’t been kind either. Temperatures beyond normal levels have been recorded as nature pounds that country. Rainfall has similarly been very minimal.
Those Australians who live in Victoria and New South Wales; who populate places like Eden in Australia’s South East; now know what hell fire could be like. These people, forgive me, don’t need to refer to the Bible, or choose death as an option to experience what hell is. Hell has come verily to their door post.
Iran has in the last 24 hours had its pound of flesh, what it describes as a proportionate show of military force in response to America’s act of war.
From the surface, ballistic missiles tore through the night, travelling at great speed in the direction of Baghdad. Soon, those missiles built in Iran would make their landfall, unperturbed by the presence of America’s well known defense shields. Those systems could only issue advance warnings which announced the approach of the arrows of death..
The number of missiles launched that night shouldn’t bother anyone; whether those missiles killed anyone shouldn’t also be a major talking point.
The fact that they killed no one when they ought to; the fact that those who sent them into action calibrated the attack as the Americans now believe; has left our world peaceful once again.
We owe it more to the Iranians than to the Americans when we consider the fact that they did nothing to escalate the conflict; nothing to endanger our world.
But those missiles carried a message of their own. They carried a message of the relentless progress made by a determined people after nearly 40 years of economic sanctions and isolation. They delivered a message pertaining to the existence of war machines that could be precise, destructive and efficient.
I am glad Washington, for what ever it is worth, pulled back. It didn’t listen to the “clowns” who masquerade like hawks at Capitol Hill, the Pentagon and State Department as Zarif, the Iranian Foreign Minister described them.
Nobody could have expected Iran to win against America. The US is the super power. It has the armaments, it has the experience. It has remarkable influence and strong allies all over the world to drive any country nuts.
Its budget for the development of a new generation of weapons which runs into trillions of dollars would feed several poor nations. A slice of it in my pocket would probably turn me into a billionaire.
It is however possible that despite their strength, the Yankees got the message which was delivered by Iran. The retort by the big boy, saying Iran is standing down; and a new need for both sides to sit round the table which is a product of this encounter could prove instructive.
Fela had a song called “Shakara”. “I go kill you ooo, I go chew you ooo”, Fela sang, “all na Shakara”. Shakara happens even in situations like this. Only a practiced eye can see it.
Many Americans are wondering why their interceptors, missiles like the famed Patriot Missiles which worked wonders in places like Iraq downed nothing. Could this be proof of the calibre of weapons of war that Iran tested under the guise of a proportionate response?
Some American strategist are beginning to postulate that Iran may have projectiles which could target America.This could be mere speculation to homour Iran. It could also be a product of some projections that are being made by experts, following what the world has seen.
For Iran, America and the rest of us, there are lessons to learn. The most important lesson of all comes from the unwillingness of both countries to go to war. All through the crisis which frightened most of us, both sides maintained this posture.
The British were even more explicit when they maintained as part of their diplomatic effort that a conflict between both sides would not serve anyone’s interest.
This conflict has further demonstrated that there can be no replacement for diplomacy. Whatever happens, men must “jaw jaw” and the ability to lay out interests, address those interests in an atmosphere of mutual respect, holds the key to the evolution of a new order in which big powers and small powers can walk side by side. Calls for new talks between Washington and Tehran effectively prove this.
For Washington, it is now clear that it cannot go it alone. It has taken the face-off with Iran for Washington to restore hope in its allies. Washington is now talking about a more significant role by NATO in the Middle East.
It is interesting that an America which did little to inform its allies of a plan to kill Soleimani found it convenient after Iran struck under the watch of Trump to brief its allies. This hasn’t happened since the new sheriff’s entry into town.
The Europeans might be happy as a result of this. They have watched helplessly as Trump’s America drifted in the direction of global dictatorship; and watched as ties which have taken years to build were ignored under the guise of America first.
Perhaps, to be great again, America needs its traditional friends, friends like Germany, Canada, France and Britain. Together, these nations are responsible for the world order that exists, for the great strides man has made towards freedom. Together, they are responsible for the consequences that an imbalanced and skewed world, which robs Peter to pay Paul, have brought to the fore.
Many may disagree, but their acts of economic terrorism designed for their dominion of the rest of us that are shielded by law and convention; the establishment of social structures which deny lesser nations of the opportunity to compete; the information and communication order put in place which promotes a vicious propaganda cycle; and the political framework which spins the web have combined to create resistance among those who think that all men are born equal.
To survive, men who are victims of a superiority complex; men whose voices cannot be heard; and men who are determined to end a system that humiliates them have picked fights and set their own standards. It may be that these men have come to believe like Mao that power flows from the barrel of a gun.
In other to delegitimze them, these men, the groups and countries they lead are forced, some of the time,to adopt non conventional means in pressing demands or advancing their cause.
Yet, as in all things, the strong and powerful armed with the instruments under their control decide who should be eulogised or who should be demonized; who should be part of the power elite and who should not; who for that matter should be heroes and heroines and who should be villains.
It may be why in death, Soleimani seen in some quarters as a nationalist has been labelled as a terrorist who had the blood of Americans and Iranians who may have been encouraged to destabilise their own country on his hands.
In all, our world appears somewhat calm.
Noah had sent a bird from the Ark in which took refuge after water overran his world to scan the earth’s surface and confirm if the earth was dry enough to inhabit.
With the help of satellites, men can see beyond what Noah and his associates could not see.
We know in advance of the threat posed by climate change and the danger that we are likely to face from our neighbours by watching them from space.
Now that hostilities between the US and Iran appear to simmer down, all of us across the world know instantaneously that a semblance of peace has returned.
So, it is not surprising that men like us have suddenly found our voices. Our heart beats have returned to normal as the adrenalin which flows through our veins pick up a regular pace.
In the same manner, talks of a happy and prosperous new year can make sense now that the heat is over.
As individuals, we have better grounds on which to hoist our pursuit of dreams of a better life; grounds to experiment new resolutions that we hope to embrace; and grounds to change our behaviour and attitudes.
Let me wish all of you a truly happy new year. May your world not be brought to an abrupt end by surging tidal waves. May fire, no matter how hard it tries, not be the source of the destruction of our current world.
May the existence of so-called new planets not offer the basis for the termination of planet earth by men who believe in the power of their science, the size of their menacing armies and the enormous wealth that they pack.
Let us turn our attention to our dear country. Is there anything to learn from this entire thing? Did fellow Nigerians see what nationhood truly means as Iran and America fought for space?
Despite what was seen as major differences amongst Iranians, between Americans and Americans, their countries came together to face a common foe.
Can we as Nigerians do that? Can we forget that we are Ibo, Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba, Kanuri, Ijaw, Ikwerre, Etche and Ogoni and do something good for once? Can the leaders of these ethnic groups and many more that we have not listed come together to work for the benefit of their people, state and nation?
It is a new year and a new beginning. New thoughts and new ways of addressing our private and national needs are what I wish you from the bottom of my heart.
I pray that a new nation will be born; pray that our leaders would guide us aright; pray that our leaders would understand that the erection of a civilisation which cannot defend itself against external threats is hopeless. Iran and North Korea are proving this.
On an interpersonal level, I pray that the temptation to destroy one another would be placed on hold this year.
Boy! Make we chuck knuckles na!! Una, happy new year ooo!!!
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