Howard Feldman

OPINION: Soleimani does not deserve our tears

2020-01-08 13:59
A Hamas policeman in Gaza City stands guard during a mourning ceremony organised in honour of slain Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani (portrait) killed in the Iraqi capital Baghdad in a US air strike a day earlier, on January 4, 2020.

A Hamas policeman in Gaza City stands guard during a mourning ceremony organised in honour of slain Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani (portrait) killed in the Iraqi capital Baghdad in a US air strike a day earlier, on January 4, 2020. (Mahmud Hams, AFP)

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Iran is a country that only a few weeks ago killed 1 500 of their own people because they were protesting. It is a country that openly and publicly and proudly hangs gay men. It is a regime that jails and executes anyone with an opinion that is not in alignment with the government, writes Howard Feldman

The ANC did not disappoint.

Before the man was buried, they had rushed to issue a statement condemning the US assassination of General Qasem Soleimani, Commander of Iranian Quds Force.

According to News24, in a statement on Saturday, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule described the airstrikes as an attack on the people of Iran.

"The ANC and all progressive formations of the world cannot afford to remain silent while the actions of the US appear to be undermining peace and security with impunity - a clear and deliberate erosion of Iran's national stability," Magashule said.

The hypocrisy of the statement is breath-taking.

Destabilising Iran, arguably the world's greatest destabiliser aside, we should also not forget that the ANC has a proud tradition of claiming that they don't not get involved in the affairs of other countries.

That is why they allowed neighbouring Zimbabwe to collapse and the people of Zimbabwe to starve.

When there was so much that they could have done to curtail dictator Mugabe, they chose to do nothing. That is also why they allowed Al-Bashir to exit the country when he should have been arrested and that is why they have not held Venezuela accountable for the mass starvation and oppression of its people.

Even worse than this is the undisputable fact that South Africa is in crisis.

With Eskom, crime, healthcare, education, employment a disaster area, with gender-based violence a national shame, the ANC is hardly in a position to lecture anyone on anything.

They should consider getting their own house in order before being so arrogant as to think that their view is worth considering.

Not to be outdone, the South African Federation of Trade Unions issued a rather lengthy and wordy statement that proves that someone at the union has way too much time on their hands.

It begins as poetry but very soon descends into something more disturbing when rage and prejudice takes hold of the narrative.

Here is an extract:

Trump is a warmonger

Trump is the world number one terrorist

Trump is a criminal

Trump is a liar

Trump is the threat to world peace

"The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) rejects with contempt and condemns in strongest terms another bloody US-imperialist aggression against the sovereign countries of Iran and Iraq. The murder of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis is an utterly reckless pre-meditated act of aggression which has no regard whatsoever to world peace and stability and bloody implications of Donald Trump's escalation of the US belligerence against Iran."

What both the ANC and SAFTU forget to mention is who Soleimani was, and what he was responsible for.

In an article in The New Statemen, Oz Katerji a writer, filmmaker and journalist with a focus on the Middle East says as follows:

"The only way to understand Qasem Soleimani’s legacy is to trace the trail of bloodshed in his wake across the Middle East. As head of the Quds Force, Soleimani personally oversaw an international multi-billion-dollar terrorist proxy network, and he did so with total impunity. In a famous incident in 2008, General David Petraeus, then commander of the United States Central Command, was handed a phone by then Iraqi President Jalal Talabani with a text message from Soleimani.

"It read: 'Dear General Petraeus, you should know that I, Qasem Soleimani, control the policy for Iran with respect to Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and Afghanistan. And indeed, the ambassador in Baghdad is a Quds Force member. The individual who's going to replace him is a Quds Force member'."

The above makes the US look like pre-schoolers in the world of imperialism.

Soleimani's goal was to spread Iranian influence as far and as wide as possible.

And what is this Iranian influence?

Iran is a country that only a few weeks ago killed 1 500 of their own people because they were protesting. It is a country that openly and publicly and proudly hangs gay men. It is a regime that jails and executes anyone with an opinion that is not in alignment with the government. It is a place where women are voiceless and are jailed if they appear in public with their head uncovered.

That is just within their borders. Further afield Iran has assisted in causing the death of many thousand people in Syria; has taken effective control of Lebanon and week after week threatens genocidal aggression against a democratic world.

Katerji continues, "but the most defining legacy in the Middle East of the man who ran Tehran's insurgency against US forces in Iraq was not the deaths of hundreds of US service members, nor the wave of political assassinations he masterminded throughout the last two decades. Soleimani made his mark through his unrestrained barbarity towards civilians in Syria and Iraq, and he was personally responsible for the deaths of thousands of people. These include the hundreds of Iraqi civilians who were shot dead by Iraqi security forces within the last three months, acting directly under his orders.

"Soleimani was brutal, merciless, and ruthlessly efficient at his trade, slaughtering his way across the Middle East in the pursuit of regional hegemony."

We might not like Donald Trump. And we might not think that the targeted killing will bring us closer to peace. We might even believe that Trump had other motives. But what we should be careful not to do, is conflate our opinion of Donald Trump and Trump's decision to act, with who he killed.

Soleimani does not deserve our tears.

- Howard Feldman is a keynote speaker and analyst. He is the author of three books and is the morning talk show host on ChaiFM.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    donald trump  |  iran  |  us
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