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COVID-19 and peace

By Travis Washington

The coronavirus has halted economies, cost loved ones their lives and may very well shut down more government run organizations. Governors across the country shut down schools and local bars. Universities voluntarily started online courses to keep students safe. Big-time celebrities like Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, Tom Hanks and Idris Elba have contracted the coronavirus. Northern Italy has been locked down. Other countries, like the United States, prevent foreigners from flying into the country. It’s been reported by the Middle East Eye that thousands of tourists are stuck in Morocco and won’t be able to fly back to their country. What started in Wuhan, China has spread across the world. The World Health Organization has declared this a global pandemic. Over 100 countries have reported that someone has contracted the disease. The number of confirmed cases is over 5,000,000, according to Haaretz. More than 400,000 people have died so far. The United Nations reported that 25 million jobs could be lost. I thought during time of chaos it would lead to worldwide ceasefires.

The United Nations is pushing for ceasefire deals across the world to focus on the Coronavirus. The Saudi lead bomb campaign backed by the United Arab Emirates has led to the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, according to the United Nations. Saudi led forces bombed civilians and hospitals while targeting the opposition group. More than 100,000 people have died. In 2015, the Saudi-led coalition created a land, sea and air barrier preventing humanitarian aid such as food and medical equipment from entering Yemen. More than 2 million Yemeni people have Cholera with a medication shortage, and it’s spreading rapidly. Saudi placed a blockade to prevent food from entering the country, according to the United Nations. Roughly 24 million people are dependent on food aid with 5 million children malnourished. The war has gotten so bad, Saudi Airstrikes bombed a school bus filled with 48 children. The Coronavirus has forced world leaders to come up with a compromise. It’s been reported by Al-Monitor an immediate ceasefire between Saudi Arabia and Yemen has succeeded with both warring parties to prevent a Coronavirus outbreak. This is the first ceasefire in the 5-year war in Yemen.

Iran and the United States have a history of poisonous relations. How did relations in Iran and the United States become so poisonous? In 1953, the United States and the United Kingdom committed a Coup d’etat in Iran, overthrowing the democratically elected leader of Iran Mohammad Mossadegh. This put the Shah in power who ruled from 1953-1979. During the Shah’s ruling, Iran had the worst human rights violations in the world. Random citizens were being tortured on the street. During the White Revolution, Iranian people rose up and fought back the Shah, overthrowing him in 1979. One year later, the Iran-Iraq War started. The war lasted eight years, and the Reagan administration gave military aid to Saddam Hussein, while Israel gave military weapons to Iran. Iraq used Mustard gas, which is a chemical weapon breaking rules of the 1925 Geneva Convention Protocol. The war lasted from 1980-1988. Iran won the war, but 500,000 soldiers and civilians died. Fast forward to 2002, the year Iran tried to pursue nuclear weapons. The Bush administration placed sanctions on the country to prevent Iran from creating a nuclear weapon. In 2003 an earthquake stuck killing 25,000 Iranians. President Bush lifted sanctions so medical supplies can enter.  In 2018, President Trump pulled out of 2015 nuclear deal and assassinated Qasem Soleimani, the defense secretary of Iran. Iran retaliated by bombing an Iraq base that held U.S. soldiers leading to more 100 soldiers with traumatic brain injuries according to Reuters. A war almost broke out. Even during these very edgy times, the Trump administration offered medical supplies to Iran. Iran refused to accept the aid, but it is a start that may end tensions between the two countries. Relations strain again when Iran sent oil to Venezuela, another country being punished by harsh sanction from the US.

Cuba, which has faced a 50-year blockade because of Fidel Castro, has not stopped Cuba from helping South American countries. In 2013, former President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff started to bring in doctors to reach areas with high poverty so they can receive healthcare. The current President of Brazil Jair Bolsonaro has labeled Cuban doctors as terrorists and kicked them out of the country. Bolsonaro promised to cut all ties with Cuba. According to the New York Times, this has prevented 28 million Brazilians from receiving healthcare treatment. Now, Bolsonaro has tested for Coronavirus and many of his cabinet members as well. He is begging for Cuba to send doctors back to his country.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority began working together to stop the spread of coronavirus. During the coronavirus the plans to annex the westbank halted for a brief time. UAE close ally to Israel, sent medical equipment to Palestine. The Palestinian Authority feeling betrayed rejected their aid because of countries’ support of Israel. Now that the coronavirus is slowing down and it seems like Israel recovering the Knesset will still proceed with annexation.

The Coronavirus is a disease that can take the lives of the rich, poor, black, brown, white, disabled, Muslims, Christians, atheists, gay or straight. COVID-19 doesn’t care. The world has to come together or more of our loved ones will die. My point in this article is it’s time to focus on healthcare instead of war. During this time  peace can be achieved. I predict the Syrian decade-long war will come to a halt. The Syrian war has caused the worst refugee crisis in the world forcing 8 million people to leave their homes and has led to the deaths of 500,000 people. Syria has had a lot of covid-19 cases. Why I believe the war in Syria will come to a halt is because France withdrew all of its troops from Iraq to protect those troops from the Coronavirus. I believe the world will overcome the disease. I also thought it could lead to a global ceasefire and diplomacy could be achieve across the world. I was wrong only a few countries took those steps.

Travis Washington is a two-time graduate of SIU, having received his Bachelor’s degree in University studies with a minor in Africana Studies and Speech Communication in 2017 and Master’s in Education Administration with a College Teaching Certificate in 2019. During his tenure at SIU, Travis was heavily involved in advocacy work and action in the community, with focus on voter registration and change in legislation. Currently he is trying to pass a law called the “ Hands Up Act”  

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