Nobel Peace Prize highlights sex assault in war: World braces for US-Israel-Iran clash | Sunday Observer

Nobel Peace Prize highlights sex assault in war: World braces for US-Israel-Iran clash

Even as the world inches towards possible war between Iran and the United States, the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize committee seems to have, this year, redressed its previous outrageous award of the globally prestigious prize to incoming US President Barak Obama by recognising, at long last, the human atrocity of rampant sex abuse during war. A 25-year-old Iraqi woman survivor of sex slavery by the so-called Islamic State and a 63-year-old Congolese gynaecologist treating sex assault victims in his country’s constant provincial insurgencies have been jointly awarded the Peace Prize for 2018.

Meanwhile, the atrocities in Palestine’s Gaza Strip continue with more casualties in the months-long, on-going, protests against the decades-long Israeli occupation of, and economic siege against, Palestine.

Nearly 300 civilian protesters – including disabled people and children – have been killed by Israeli military firing since this sustained protest campaign began in March this year.

Typically, there have been no Israeli casualties, although some bare land adjoining the Gaza border fence has been set ablaze by makeshift incendiary rockets launched by Palestinian protestors, causing some economic damage on the Israeli side.

When the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee announced newly elected US President Barak Obama as the 2009 Peace Prize winner – barely eight months after winning the presidency – much of the world reacted with surprise and criticism.

Many questioned as to why someone who had yet to accomplish anything significant was being awarded one of the most prestigious prizes usually awarded to exemplary accomplishments of global significance.

At most, Obama’s accomplishment at the time was that he became the first African-American – a descendant of slaves – to win the American presidency.

The Peace Prize award, as the Award citation indicated, was more a forward-looking expectation that Obama’s singular socio-political domestic achievement would translate into globally influential peace-building.

Sadly, that was not to be the case. Obama, aided by his able Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, went on to wreak enormous destruction in northern Africa and West Asia.

It was the Obama Administration that intervened in Libya and Syria with the express purpose of regime-change, adding on two more countries wracked apart by war and social chaos to the bloody chaos already created by the previous US administrations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Today, the entire region is literally in flames and will likely slide into further chaos if the current Washington regime gets its way against Iran.

The divergent application of moral appreciation by the White-led world is no more starkly seen than in the way various prize-awarding countries and organisations have rushed to strip Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi of numerous prizes for her apparent mis-governance after coming to power.

To date, no one seems to have noted and acted on the misdeeds of Obama on the global stage.

It is just possible that the Nobel Committee regretted that award to Obama, given his later record of unabashed belligerence and geo-political manipulation. But, no one has said or done anything about it.

What is most significant about the Peace Prize award this year to Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege was the rare recognition by the Nobel Committee of the global phenomenon of violence against women.

The very fact that none other than US President Donald Trump came to power after boasting about grabbing the genitals of women and has publicly praised men with even worse reputations (including a Congressional candidate with a record of girl-child abuse), goes to show the ambivalent attitude a male-dominant world has towards the sexual domination and abuse of women.

Thus, the award of the Peace Prize to these two genuinely courageous and hard-working activists, Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege for their work against sexual violence against women during war serves to lift up this global problem to a position of public attention that it should have had long ago.

According to the announcement in the Norwegian capital Oslo on Friday, the winners won the award for their “efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war”.

Murad is an Iraqi Yazidi who was captured and kept as a sex slave by Islamic State militants before escaping in 2014 and, later, became the face of a campaign to free the Yazidi people.

Mukwege is a gynaecologist who, along with his colleagues, has treated tens of thousands of victims during the decades of internal war in the Congo region.

While Peace Prizes are being announced in the West, another part of that same West, in Washington, the US regime is preparing to slap even more economic sanctions against hapless Iran.

Come November, the US will clamp down crippling economic sanctions that will systematically block Iran’s ability to trade and export internationally – a measure that is tantamount to attempting to starve Iran.

Last week, when the International Court of Justice ruled in favour of Iran against sanctions already imposed by Washington and demanded that the US withdraw these sanctions, the Trump Administration announced that it was withdrawing from the ICJ, a global institution that America took the lead in setting up. Iran took the US to court after it re-imposed sanctions on the back of abandoning the Iran Nuclear Pact in May.

Meanwhile, both Israel and the US have upped their war-like rhetoric against Iran with second rung leaders in both countries publicly discussing military strikes against Iranian installations.

At the United Nations General Assembly’s annual sessions in New York, in late September, both President Trump and Israeli Premier Benyamin (‘Bibi’) Netanyahu ranted against Iran describing that country, easily the most stable in West Asia, as a ‘threat to world peace’ and a ‘sponsor of terrorism’.

Netanyahu’s provocative allegations and demands for international action against Tehran comes in the wake of the dangerous aerial military manoeuvres by Israeli attack jets just days earlier in the skies over war torn Syria during which a Russian surveillance plane was shot down accidentally by Syrian anti-aircraft fire that was obviously targeting the in-coming Israeli planes.

Subsequently, an angry Russia announced that it was arming the Syrian army with the latest Russian anti-aircraft guided missiles (the S-300).

An uneasy Washington condemned the Russian move knowing that such an upgrade of Syrian defences endangered not just Israel’s air force (which has been secretly attacking Syrian positions for years), but US aircraft as well, if and when the US next decided to strike at Syrian forces.

Thus, Tel Aviv is clearly deliberately raising tensions in West Asia, probably in the light of the continued weakening of the Western-backed Syrian anti-government movements and military successes of the Russian and Iranian-backed Damascus regime.

It seems obvious that both Tel Aviv and Washington are coordinating their strategies in West Asia to target the most powerful regional actor on the side of Damascus, Palestine and other anti-Israeli forces, namely, Iran.

One wonders how far Tel Aviv is prepared to go in its determined push to secure its military and political dominance in that region.

West Asia is now torn asunder by the cruel colonial-style occupation of Palestine and internecine war among Palestinian groups encouraged by Israel, the US and some of its Arab client states – Saudi Arabia, Egypt, et al.

And, the world community full well knows that it is Israel which is the actual secret nuclear-armed power in the region which does not want anyone else to build up a military counter to it.

What will happen in November when the new US sanctions take effect will depend much on how far the rest of the world, especially, the other major powers like the EU, Russia and China, will go to sustain their support for Iran as laid down in the Iran Nuclear Pact.