Harare — THE scheduled official opening of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, on Friday, by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is providential coming as it does at a time when Western nations, led by Britain and the United States have openly declared their hostility to the aspirations of our two nations.
There is, thus, greater need to strengthen collective co-operation and consolidate the links that exist not only between our two nations, but among other like-minded nations as well.
Though Zimbabwe and Iran are separated geo-graphically, the two countries share intricate historical, cultural, political and socio-economic links that transcend both time and space.
Zimbabwe and Iran have a common history dating back to the 13th century when our forebears traded in gold and ivory, through the liberation struggle when the leader of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini inspired the Patriotic Front to expeditiously drive out the settler regime.
Both our nations were born after protracted armed revolutions that toppled the administrations of stooge leaders -- Bishop Abel Muzorewa and the Shah of Iran, King Mohammed Reza Pahlavi.
Our people prevailed against the forces of imperialism almost at the same time. The Islamic Republic of Iran attained its independence on February 11, 1979, at a time when the Zimbabwean revolution had reached the decisive phase culminating in the people's victory on April 18, 1980.
The deposing of the vassal regimes did not please the West that sponsored wars of destabilisation, disguised as civil wars. Our nations once again triumphed in tandem; the Iran-Iraq war ending in 1988 a few months after we triumphed against the externally sponsored dissident insurrection by signing the Unity Accord on December 22, 1987.
Since then our two countries have forged closer ties through the Zimbabwe-Iran Joint Commission that was established on October 19, 1991 and has seen increased co-operation in the areas of trade, technology transfer, agriculture, education and defence.
The Islamic Republic of Iran is at the centre of the Look East Policy adopted by Government at the turn of the millennium, a policy that has enabled us to prevail against the isolationist agenda of Britain and the United States. These countries have declared Zimbabwe a pariah state and Iran "an axis of evil", for daring to defend the interests of the citizens and scuttling the West's bid to plunder the resources of our two nations.
This labelling has been followed by unwarranted economic sanctions, which have afflicted Iran over the past 30 years and Zimbabwe since 2001.
These sanctions have, however, made us self-reliant, because instead of undermining our independence, they have served to strengthen it.
We, however, take great pride in the fact that the resilience of the peoples of our nations, who have refused to be used as instruments of illegal regime change, has proved to be unassailable.
This has been ably complemented by the visionary leadership of great men like President Mugabe, the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo, the late founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran; Imam Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei; and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The West's neo-colonial agenda should only make us stronger. Our strength derives from the knowledge that we are nations that imperialism would rather not have seen born, which it would rather have seen aborted and currently wishes to pulverise under the might of its weapons of mass destruction.
It is thus imperative that the countries of the East and the South gang together, just as the North and West do, for it is from mutual co-operation that we can present a formidable front against the common enemy.
We are blessed in having generations of citizens that have been tempered by wars, and strengthened by hard-won democracy, which has always been threatened by the erstwhile colonisers.
We hope President Ahmadinejad's visit -- coming as it does on the heels of the three-day State visit by his predecessor, Seyed Mohammed Kathami in 2005 -- will lead to greater co-operation between Harare and Teheran.