Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsenjani: Lessons for Namibia and the world

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By S. Mehdi Parsaei

Writing an editorial about the demise of Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, veteran revolutionary and politician of Iran, in the New Era came to my mind the time I was reading his memories on the night of his death.

Suddenly the memories that came were related to Namibia. In that memory, he pointed out the meeting with Mr Sam Nujoma in Tehran on 29 May 1986 on the situation of the struggle and the independence of Namibia and also a congratulatory message of Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani to Namibia’s first president Sam Nujoma.

Since Hashemi Rafsanjani was one of the main sponsors of Namibian fighters during the struggle for independence of the country and one of the architects of relations between the two countries, I feel compelled to write a brief article.

There is no doubt that the death of a statesman and revolutionary fighter like Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, is a great loss not only to the Iranian people, but also for all peoples who have tasted the bitter struggle for dependence in distressful times of imperialism.

Hashemi Rafsanjani was one of the most distinctive political activists and politicians in developing countries and certainly his political creed and doctrine in the field of external relations has important lessons for developing countries, current politicians and also next generations.

Though his body is gone; his style and character as a revolutionary fighter and revered politician have many lessons for developing countries especially the Non-Aligned members.

One of the main lessons for today is the necessity of applying rationality, sobriety and moderation in foreign policy.

In the current turbulent and chaotic world, with the flames of extremism and radicalism burning in the name of religion and nationalism, moderate characters are much needed. Another lesson that can be a pattern of foreign policy of developing countries is the importance of adherence to principles.

Since the beginning of the revolutionary struggle until death, he was always faithful to his principles which are rooted in the history, beliefs, values and norms of his country. Also in the field of foreign policy, he always remained loyal to the principles such as independence, decolonisation, supporting liberation movements, giving priority to developing countries and peaceful coexistence with other governments and nations, non-interference in the affairs of others and the rejection of interference in own countries’ affairs.

There is another lesson for the Third World countries that the eradication of colonialism and dependency passed through the gate of development and without development, achieving last independence and freedom would not be possible.

Another important lesson that the late Hashemi Rafsanjani believed in on the arena of foreign policy was the balanced applying of realism and idealism in formulating of foreign policy. Although he never abandoned his ideals and principles, he never closed his eyes to the facts and realities on the ground.

His pragmatism and flexibility in foreign policy and international relations vindicates this view.

One of the most important lessons of the late Ayatollah for the Third World politicians in the field of international relations is that changes possibilities, include change and reform in the existing international system which is dominated by global power, is possible. Therefore, he believed we should go beyond the current international systems arrangements and limitations. In this context, he was thinking and searching of a favorable international order in which the newly independent states as well as the all developing states be able to maintain their core and fundamental interests and their values.

With regard to his diplomatic and moral support to the efforts of the Namibia heroes and warriors, and also Notable meetings and memories among him and Namibian independence fighters like founding president Sam Nujoma, Namibian independence leader, it would be very informative and interesting if he wishes to let us know and share memories of his Iranian comrade.

His narrations certainly contain important lessons for the current and new generation of politicians in developing countries in terms of how to deal with national and international issues.

• S. Mehdi Parsaei is the diplomatic attaché of the Iran embassy in Windhoek

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