by Keith Locke
Most New Zealanders have been inspired by the huge mobilisation of Egyptians against the Mubarak dictatorship.
“Mubarak must go now” has been the cry from the streets, but not from the White House – or the Beehive.
When street protests began Hillary Clinton asked Mubarak to bring in ‘reforms’. As the protests grew American officials then called for an orderly handover of power. After the million strong protest on Wednesday Washington is looking for Mubarak to make a quicker exit.
Both President Obama and John Key have been reluctant to see the dictator go. Key told Breakfast TV’s Corin Dann on Monday that he respected that Mubarak had “done his very best to lead a country which has recognised Israel” and had provided “stability and leadership and calmness.” When Corin Dann asked Key if he was “calling for him to go?” the reply was “No”.
Key’s comments are an insult to the 80 million Egyptians to who’ve been under the heel of a ruthless dictatorship for 30 years and are struggling to make ends meet. Mubarak also made life harder for the Palestinians, most recently by working with Israel to stop much needed supplies getting into Gaza.
The truth is that Western governments have been happy to have dictatorships – like Mubarak’s – running the show in the Middle East, collaborating with Israel and protecting Western oil interests. They are fearful that democratic governments might be more independent and give more support to the Palestinians.