Storming of US Capitol Hill
With only ten days left to U.S. President Donald Trump’s presidency, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on the president to resign. Otherwise, she said the House would formally move on Monday to call Vice President Mike Pence and the cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to strip Trump of power.
Pence has opposed using 25th amendment to remove Trump. The act provides means for the president’s removal if he/she is not deemed fit then the power can be transitioned to Vice President. However, it is designed for physical illness and not mental disorder. The other option on the table was impeachment which the House has vowed if Pence failed to act.
Pelosi has called on Pence to respond “within 24 hours” and indicated she expected a Tuesday vote on the resolution. Leading Democrats have suggested they could press forward on a remarkably quick timetable, charging Trump by midweek with “high crimes and misdemeanors.”
In a video message on Thursday night, Trump condemned the storming of the Capitol Hill and called for “healing and reconciliation”. In a message intended to quell growing alarm among even his closest allies and aides, Trump pledged “an orderly transition”.
Ending his message, which many believe he was coerced to make, Trump ended by saying “this is only the beginning,” hinting at a return to the public arena.
The nearly three-minute video followed a wave of resignations from his administration and calls from top congressional Democrats, former White House aides and business leaders for Trump’s removal from office.
Thousands of Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol Hill on Wednesday afternoon after the Congress certified Joseph R. Biden Jr. as the next president of the U.S.
Trump is blamed for inciting the riots after he called the elections “fraudulent” urging his supporters to march towards Capitol.
Just after 1 p.m. on Wednesday Trump ended his speech to protesters in Washington by calling them to march to the Capitol building and “show strength.” In the aftermath the mob rampaged. Swarms of his supporters stormed the Capitol and derailed congressional proceedings to tally electors’ votes from the November 2020 election.
The police fired flash-bang grenades but rather than dispersing the protesters cheered and shouted “push forward, push forward.”
At 2:24 p.m., after Trump tweeted that outgoing Vice-President Mike Pence “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done,” protesters could be heard chanting “Where is Pence?”
After Twitter restored Trump’s 12-hour block he tweeted on Friday he will not be attending the inauguration on January 20, putting his own pledge of an orderly transition into question.
Currently Twitter, Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram have blocked Trump’s account indefinitely. Corporations have severed ties with Trump vowing to suspend donations to Republicans. It is not very democratic that corporations like Tweeter and Facebook have the means to silence Trump but democratic institutions like the Senate and Congress are unable to act.
Ironically, while in office Trump may be able to launch a nuclear war but he can’t access his social network web accounts or tweet.
On Wednesday, termed as a day of insurrection, Trump supporters were seen trying to tear down security barriers, confronting the police and trying to enter the building. Pence orders dispatch of the National Guards to the Capitol Hill.
Four people were killed on the ground while 52 were arrested. Washington mayor orders a six p.m. curfew. A U.S. Capitol Police officer died on Thursday bringing the total number of fatalities to five. Trump ay be held criminally liable for citing the insurrection.
On Wednesday the U.S. was hit by double whammy of DC riots and Covid-19 pandemic. The U.S. Covid-19 hospitalizations reached a daily record 131,215. By Thursday officials across the U.S. reported yet another daily record for deaths, over 4,000. The total for the pandemic in the U.S. has surpassed 365,400. Highest number of infections in the world is recorded in America, with cases surpassing 21 million on Thursday.
During a speech marking the anniversary of the 1978 uprising in the city of Qom against the Shah on Friday, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei pointed out that “what Americans wanted to befall on the Iranian nation in 2009 is now befalling on themselves in 2021.”
The leader was referring to the 2009 Iranian presidential election when millions of Iranians took to the streets to demand a rerun. The supreme leader dismissed claims by the three defeated candidates of widespread fraud.
Commenting on the events that unfolded in Washington DC, President Hassan Rouhani said on Thursday: “What we saw in the U.S. last night and today really showed that first how floppy and weak the Western democracy is, and how weak its foundations are.”
Indeed Trump’s mob demonstrated to the world that the institutions of the oldest democracy of the world are softer targets than most of us imagined.
Rouhani pointed to the “huge damages” Trump caused to West Asia, particularly to Palestine, Syria and Yemen. “We see a (mentally) unhealthy person comes and takes office, what problems he creates to his own country and the world,” according to the government’s official website.
Rouhani expressed hope that the next rulers in the White House would return to the position of wisdom, rule of law and commitment that the great nation of America deserves.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed concerns on Thursday regarding the rogue U.S. president’s unchecked authority to start a nuclear war.
In an interview televised on Thursday by the IRIB Foad Izadi, an associate professor at the University of Tehran and a political analyst, compared the Capitol Hill riots with the 2009 unrest in Iran which he blamed U.S. for helping incite.
Other world leaders condemned the violence on Capitol Hill and called for an orderly transition of power to Biden. United Nation Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was saddened by Wednesday’s violence and chaos in Washington as U.S. Congress was counting elector votes for last year’s election, said his spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
French President Emanuel Macron commented that “what happened in Washington as not American.” UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the events “disgraceful”.
Canada shares the world’s largest border with its America. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the violence in Capitol Hill “deeply disturbing”.
In a tweet the British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab pointed that “there is no justification for these violent attempts to frustrate the lawful and proper transition of power.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also condemned the violence adding that transition to President-elect Biden should take place in an orderly and peaceful manner.
China on Thursday tried to draw parallels between the riots on Capitol Hill and pro-democracy unrest in Hong Kong that took place two years ago. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying pointed to U.S. media descriptions of the DC riots as “violence” and a “disgrace,” and compared them to remarks made by Speaker Pelosi who called the Hong Kong protests a “beautiful sight to behold.”
Meanwhile, Democrats won control of the U.S. Senate after Jon Ossoff joined his Georgia colleague Raphael Warnock in beating Republican incumbents in run-off elections, giving Biden control of both houses of Congress.
The two run-off elections were triggered after no candidate earned more than 50 percent of the vote in the November 3 general election, and took place in the shadow of Trump’s repeated refusal to accept his loss to Biden.
The Democrat control of Senate will boost Biden’s chances of implementing his agenda when he takes office later this month. In light of the events on Capitol Hill, Biden will be among the American presidents with extraordinary executive powers. It is comparable to the executive powers that George W. Bush inherited after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Just as 9/11 helped shape American politics and media so will January 6 DC riots.
Biden has said that he sees a return to the current 2015 Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) as the best immediate route to regional stability. Trump exited from what is termed as the boldest U.S. diplomacy towards Iran in four decades in 2018 and replaced it with policy of “maximum pressure”, causing significant damage to Iran’s economy at a time of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Iran has expressed interest in return to JCPOA but has rejected any proposals to revise and renegotiate the treaty. During a meeting of United Nations Security Council on “Non-Proliferation: Implementation of Security Council resolution 2231 (2015)”, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, rejected as “unacceptable” any proposal to revise the nuclear pact.
“Almost four months after the failed United States’ move to destroy the JCPOA, the Security Council is again considering the implementation of resolution 2231 and the JCPOA,” Takht-Ravanchi said.
“The JCPOA is an agreement coming out of hard-won negotiations involving difficult gives and takes, and any proposal for its revision, renegotiation or extension will be against resolution 2231 and absolutely not acceptable to Iran,” he pointed out.
Source: Islamic Republic News Agency - IRNA