Tehran : Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a meeting with Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga stressed Iran’s policy for the further expansion of ties between the two, and said Tehran and Nairobi are eager to boost mutual cooperation in all fields. The two countries, specially under the current conditions of the global developments, seek growing expansion of all-out cooperation in the interest of the two nations and independent states,” Ahmadinejad said here in Tehran on Monday.
He also described the relations between the two countries as brotherly, and said, “Iran and Kenya are in the same front and the two nations’ cultures and views have tied them to each other.” Noting that Tehran and Nairobi enjoy abundant capabilities and potentials for promoting the level of their bilateral and regional cooperation, he reiterated, “Iran and Kenya should activate their potentials for cooperation in economic, political and cultural fields to take effective steps in consolidating their bilateral ties.” Iran has in the past few years shown increasing willingness to expand ties and cooperation with the Africa states and offered to transfer experience and technology to several African countries.
Since taking office in 2005, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has striven hard to maximize Tehran’s relations with the African continent. Ahmadinejad paid a visit to Kenya in early 2009, during which he said that the bilateral ties between Iran and Kenya are improving in various political, cultural and economic arenas, and that the two countries are willing to strengthen and deepen these relations in all the different sectors.
Meanwhile earlier President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Friday that a new Middle East is being created which would be free of the United States and Israel(Israel and Kenya is a long time allies and friends). Massive crowds of Iranians, waving flags and chanting “Death to America!” descended on Tehran’s Azadi Square (Freedom Square) to listen to the hard-liner and Holocaust denier who lashed out at the West and Israel in a speech marking the 32nd anniversary of the Islamic revolution.”We will soon see a new Middle East materialising without America and the Zionist regime and there will be no room for world arrogance (the West) in it,” Ahmadinejad told the cheering crowds who gathered despite the cold and cloudy weather.
America’s handling of the Egyptian crisis has severe repercussions for U.S. foreign policy around the Middle East and may convince some western-friendly Arab regimes that President Obama is a fair weather friend, according to Israel’s former national security adviser.“When they (other Arab states) estimate the situation and ask themselves should we continue to rely on America assistance, even during bad times, or maybe we should choose Iran because Iran might be more reliable then certain shifts might occur. I think this is a very dangerous process,” said retired Major General Giora Eiland.
Eiland advised Prime Minister Ariel Sharon during the Gaza disengagement and was responsible for much of the Israeli military operations during the second intifada. He spoke loudly about the fears, that Israeli leaders seem to be whispering lately, that the Obama administration’s bungling of the Iranian protests last year, the peace process, and the current situation inEgypt changes the ball game in the Middle East and has cost the United State precious political capital while leaving open the door for the Muslim Brotherhood to take over in Israel’s only two Arab allies. “If, in the end of the day, this is going to be the result in Jordan, Israel actually returns to the 60s, a time or situation when Israel was surrounded by enemies. This is, of course, very severe consequences.”
Israel has remained almost silent in recent days about the clashes in Egypt, while hoping that President Hosni Mubarak would hold on to power. Israeli President Simon Peres reminded the press during a meeting that democracy in Muslim countries isn’t always a good thing for Israel. With western encouragement, Gaza held free elections only to have Hamas win an overwhelming majority. The militant group, which is closely related to the Muslim Brotherhood, lists a key organizational goal as the destruction of Israel.Egypt was the first country to sign a peace treaty with the Jewish state and for 30-plus years much of Israel’s current defense and intelligence strategy has been built on the assumption that its southern neighbor will at the very least remain neutral in any crisis. Israel could take for granted the Egyptians would not interfere with security operations in Gaza or during a possible conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon. That may not remain the case, Eiland said.
Laurent Gbagbo, who is widely viewed by the west as having lost a recent election, is refusing to leave office despite attempts to persuade him from West African leaders and others in the broader international community.Lanny J Davis, a lawyer who used to work for Bill Clinton, has resigned from his job advising Mr Gbagbo, claiming that the president had stopped taking his calls, and refused one from the US president.
Mr Davis said he had repeatedly tried to set up a phone conversation between Mr Gbagbo and Mr Obama which would have given the Ivorian“options for a peaceful resolution, that would avoid further bloodshed and be in the best interests of his country”.”Unfortunately, the decision was made in Abidjan not to allow President Obama’s call to be put through to Mr Gbagbo, despite my repeated objections to that decision,” he wrote in his resignation letter, which was seen by CNN.
Over grilled goat meat and Amstel Light, the men banter in a rapid-fire blend of Swahili and English. It’s hot, humid and loud on the gravel patio of this Northeast Baltimore bar, where the tables are covered with thatched umbrellas and Kenyan-style Lingala tunes pulse from a nearby TV.Friday nights at Charlie Brown’s are typically reserved for partying. But on this recent night, it’s all about politics, as conversation centers on Kenya’s most famous son – Barack Obama.
It doesn’t matter that Obama was neither born nor raised in Kenya (his father, also named Barack, was from a small village in Kenya’s Nyanza province). And whether he wins the race for the presidency is somewhat irrelevant. Among this circle of friends, Obama’s nomination alone is cause for celebration, reflection and intense debate.”In Kenyan culture, they consider Barack their son,” said Mike Mugo, a 34-year-old nurse from Baltimore who grew up in Nairobi. “You are a son of Kenya, no matter where you live. And because of that, Kenyans feel immense pride.”But if he is president, how does it help Kenya?” William Gachiri interjected, playing the self-described devil’s advocate.
The exchange reflects a mix of pride, hope and trepidation about Obama’s run for president. The pride is easy to articulate – Obama shares their lineage and appears to care deeply about the east African nation. An Obama presidency could boost Kenya’s reputation in the U.S. and the world, they hope.They also acknowledge that their dreams for an Obama presidency might be too lofty. Surely, Obama alone can’t end ethnic tensions in Kenya, improve diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the world, and run the most powerful nation, they say.
In January, Kenya’s flawed presidential election resulted in ethnic violence between Luos and ethnic Kikuyus, the nation’s most populous ethnic group (which includes President Mwai Kibaki). Obama’s father was a Luo.While many in Kenya reject tribalism, tensions remain, even among Kenyans in the United States, said Mugo, who grew up in Nairobi and moved to Baltimore for college 12 years ago.”It’s very subtle; you see it in the places people choose to hang out,” he said. “I, personally, hate the tribal sentiment, but it is there.”Mugo and the others – all Kikuyu – said Obama’s ethnic ancestry doesn’t matter to them, nor to most Kenyans.At the pool table, Steve Maina of Parkville said he wished Obama spoke out more forcefully against the ethnic strife several months ago.
“Being a presidential candidate in the most powerful country in the world, he needed to do something more to condemn the killing,” said Maina, who is half Kikuyu, half Masai and has lived in Baltimore for 13 years.Gachiri is the first of the four to say he fears Obama’s race will be his chief barrier to the White House.”Race is a huge factor here,” he said, the other men nodding in agreement. “It’s a part of the American social fabric. Just look at Hurricane Katrina.” “Remember what happened to Harold Ford?” chimed in Muchiri Kiiru, a teacher from Cockeysville, referring to the black Tennessee congressman who lost his bid for Senate in 2006 amid allegations of racially tinged ads. “We know about how complicated the South is.”Mugo agreed, saying he feared that Obama will be unable to shake the “black candidate” label, hurting his chances with white voters. Still, Mugo is hopeful.”I believe there is a majority of Americans who are willing to do the right thing, black and white,” he said.Mugo is the constant optimist among his friends and family. His parents, who live in Kenya, have few expectations of an Obama presidency.
“Over the years, they have been disappointed by so much, even by the local politicians next door,” he said. “Why would they expect anything of someone 10,000 miles away?”Nevertheless, like many Kenyans, they see are Obama as an extension of themselves, Mugo said.”If he can do it,” Mugo said, “that means that little boy in the village can aspire to the greatest dream of allIn neighborhoods straddling Baltimore’s northeast border with Baltimore County, Mugo has found a small but tightly knit community of Kenyans of various ethnic groups. About 4,700 Kenyans called Maryland home in 2006, according to the Migration Police Institute. Mugo and others say jokingly that nearly all of them hang out at the patio of Charlie Brown’s.
They come for NyamaChoma, which translates to “grilled meat” in Swahili, a hugely popular Kenyan specialty served in heaping piles on styrofoam plates. The smoky scent of goat ribs wafts between the crowded tables of the dimly lit back patio. Meanwhile, in the front room of the bar – popular with a diverse bunch of native Baltimoreans and Kenyans alike – hip-hop music thumps through speakers.
In a conversation that touched on Kenya’s economic and social problems and the complexities of race in America, the group expressed worries that Obama has a rough campaign ahead and that even if he wins the presidency, his administration might be unable to fulfill their expectations.
Gachiri dryly wonders aloud if too many Kenyans in America support Obama simply because of his lineage.
His three other friends scoff and chide him with laughter. Mugo shakes his head – no way.
“My support for Obama has nothing to do with him being black or Kenyan,” Mugo said. “When I heard his speech at the Democratic National Convention, I started standing. I started cheering. Anybody, black, white, green or yellow, who spoke like this, I would have to identify with them. He appeals to a sense of decency.”
Days after watching Obama’s break-out speech in 2004, Mugo purchased his book, Dreams FromMy Father. He was impressed with Obama’s accomplishments and how candidly he described being raised by a white mother from Kansas, longing to know his father in Kenya and ultimately finding his racial identity.
Obama also expressed deep affection for Kenya, said Joe Wachira, a high school teacher from Middle River. Wachira remembers a photo that appeared in the Kenyan newspaper, The Standard, showing a young Obama on the first of three visits to the country.”He was helping his grandmother carry things, hanging out in the market, just doing the things that we do,” said Wachira intensely. “He blended fairly easy in this Third World country, and that meant a lot to Kenyans.”
And even though Kenyans affectionately call Obama “point 5″ as in 0.5, to connote being half-Kenyan, they consider him every bit one of them, Wachira and others said.Back home, Obama is considered such a hero that some people expect the impossible from him, Wachira said.”They think Kenya has a rich friend in the U.S.,” said Mugo. “For so many years, all we hear about Africa is negative things. Any person who goes and becomes famous and important and is contributing in this nature, they are proud.”
The presumptive Democratic Party nominee receives rock-star treatment in Kenya, where a popular beer called Senator is known simply as “Obama.” His popularity permeates a nation fractured along ethnic lines.
Western Man has mis-taught himself his own history.
“A familiar and influential narrative of 20th-century European history argues that nationalism twice led to war, in 1914 and then again in 1939. Thereafter, the story goes, Europeans concluded that nationalism was a danger and gradually abandoned it. In the postwar decades, Western Europeans enmeshed themselves in a web of transnational institutions, culminating in the European Union.”Muller contends that this is a myth, that peace came to the Old Continent only after the triumph of ethnonationalism, after the peoples of Europe had sorted themselves out and each achieved its own home.
At the beginning of the 20th century, there were three multi-ethnic empires in Europe: the Ottoman, Russian and Austro-Hungarian. The ethnonationalist Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913 tore at the first.World War I was ignited by Serbs seeking to rip Bosnia away from Austria-Hungary. After four years of slaughter, the Serbs succeeded, and ethnonationalism triumphed in Europe.Out of the dead Ottoman Empire came the ethnonationalist state of Turkey and an ethnic transfer of populations between Ankara and Athens. Armenians were massacred and expelled from Turkey.
Out of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires came Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. In the latter three nations, however, a majority ethnic group ruled minorities that wished either their own national home, or to join lost kinsmen.
In China, Uighurs, Mongolians and Tibetans all resist assimilation. Tatarstan may be the next problem for Russia. In the Balkans, it is Kosovo. Serbs there and in Bosnia may emulate the Albanians and secede.Many, writes Muller, “find ethnonationalism discomfiting both intellectually and morally. Social scientists go to great lengths to demonstrate that this is a product not of nature but of culture. …”But none of this will make ethnonationalism go away.”Indeed, we see it bubbling up from the Basque country of Spain, to Belgium, Bolivia, Baghdad and Beirut. Perhaps the wisest counsel for Kenya may be to get out of the way of this elemental force. Rather than seek to halt the inexorable, we should seek to accommodate it and ameliorate its sometimes awful consequences.