Keith Locke
Key lets down the Egyptian people

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.

44 thoughts on “Key lets down the Egyptian people

  1. Well Democracy may well take a back seat there as the real fear is that if Egypt changes, Jordan and Syria may well follow – leaving Israel surrounded by the much feared Muslims.
    I’m betting this collective fear will act against the aspirations of those middle-easterners who have had self-serving Monarchies placed over them. (ie;most of that region)
    One driving factor is that all of these people have been treated to the reality of a Communist State, namely China, embark on a course of progress that has quickly led to a higher standard of living than these, more direct allies of the West.

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  2. So Keith, I take it you are happy for democracy and reforms in Syria or are dictatorships fine so long as they hate Israel? And one would suggest things would be a lot worse for Egypt without American financial aid, or are you suggesting you want that to stop as well?

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  3. So Keith, I take it you are happy for democracy and reforms in Syria or are dictatorships fine so long as they hate Israel?

    Nothing Keith has ever said would lead anyone to think such bullshit was true.

    And one would suggest things would be a lot worse for Egypt without American financial aid, or are you suggesting you want that to stop as well?

    American aid should be in support of people and building strong democratic institutions. Instead it is usually employed to further narrow American political interests, regardless of the consequences on people and nations. Surely you can see that?

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  4. yawn

    [Frog: Dud, I note similar comments of no substance from you on other threads. If you persist in trolling and are not prepared to put up an argument that is relevant to the thread topic, it will be into moderation for you.]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 4 (+3)

  5. The only time we should be giving American aid is if the money is being used properly by supporting the people and building a strong democracy. Maybe it’s easy than I think it is, but if countries don’t use the money for what it is intended to be used for, why in the world do we continue to give it to them. I don’t get it! A good example is in Egypt now – has any of the money that was given to them been used to support the people?

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  6. American aid to Israel, to Egypt and to Jordan is given as part of a ME peace policy. To gain leverage over Israel and placate a pro Israel domestic constituency, and to reward nations that recognise the state of Israel. The money generally goes to the military, so also is a subsidy of domestic production. They call that the win win.

    Generally they provide cutting edge technology to Israel so they can retain a military edge over Syria, Iraq and Iran and thus have the ability to secure themselves and deter a war. A war threatens the economic interests of those reliant on the ME oil – the whole global economy.

    It worked till Israel used its benign environment to settle more and more of the West Bank and the Moslem world responded with a Moslem party in government of Turkey, the Moslem brotherhood in Egypt, Hizbollah and Hamas. This being a post Soviet vehicle (formerly Arab leftists were the front line managed by a foreign power) for Arab Moslems to unite against Israel (where increasingly Iran rivals Saudi Arabia to be sponsor).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 3 (0)

  7. rjs131

    One would suggest things would be a lot worse for Egypt without American financial aid, or are you suggesting you want that to stop as well?

    I wouldn’t say that the annual $1.8 billion dollars in weapons “support” America gives Mubarak is good for Egypt. Yes! Such support to arm a dictator which the people obviously do not want in power should stop. Can things get much worse? Perhaps if somebody lets off a nuclear device huh! It’s already escalated into a war.

    Supporters of Mubarak’s regime including police in non-uniform clothes organized a planned attack against protesters at dawn in Tahrir square today. Reports say that there have been 300 killed with another 500 wounded.

    This is all because of a corrupt Government repressing its people at the behest of the oil industry so that they can remove Eqypts resources without paying for them. America has something to answer for in its support of the regime and big business who have caused untold misery in Egypt because of their greed. Even though there is no sign of supply being affected, fear of this has seen oil prices rise to over $100 a barrel.

    Clearly the 1991–2007 reform policies including privatisation have not been effective at alleviating widespread poverty while GDP growth averages 7% a year. New Zealand has something to learn from this atrocity and the fact that big business does not give a F about the people.

    Wikipedia: Over the last 15 years, more than 180 petroleum exploration agreements have been signed and multinational oil companies spent more than $27 billion in exploration companions. Crude oil reserves as of 2009 are estimated at 3.7 billion barrels (590,000,000 m3), and proven natural gas reserves are 1.656 trillion cubic meters with a likely additional discoveries with more exploration campaigns.

    So with all that wealth, why are the people so poor? The answer is simple; Mubarak is a corrupt dictator. The people have had enough, their resolve is strong enough that they are willing to die to effect change. The images coming out recently are testament to that conviction. What America says publicly about this uprising is different to what they say privately. Their investment into Eqypts reserves and their cash cow is under threat.

    It is conceivable that the US might employ the CIA to undermine the protesters movement to secure those resource. However I do not believe they are able to undertake deployment and another war for oil, they are relying on their funding of Mubarak’s regime to do that for them. I do not hold much stead in the conviction of Mubarak’s paid henchmen to continue to kill their own people. However without proper information concerning what has been used to motivate the murder of peaceful protesters, one cannot honestly say when the conflict will end.

    http://www.usatoday.com/money/world/2008-05-14-egypt-economy_N.htm

    The largest U.S. investor is Apache Corp., a Houston-based energy company that first began exploring for oil and gas deposits in 1994. About one-fifth of the company’s $3.2 billion in first-quarter production revenue came from beneath the Egyptian desert.

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  8. Keith did you call for George Bush senior to call for the communist party government of China to give up power NOW during the Tianamen Square protest?

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  9. The Americans – both Bush junior and Obama have called for reforms in Egypt during his 5th term (even at the end of Mubaraks 4th term by Bush early in his democratic regime change phase). It being a little obvious Mubarak would not re-stand for office later this year and transition to a successor would have to be sweetened with some sign of democratisation.

    Apparently the Americans were placing that effort as secondary to attempts to make progress in the peace process (did not want to scare the Israelis during the brief period that the settlement freeze was in play). Their fear is of course about stability in a country bordering the Suez (and also has a vital oil pipieline) and the consequences for peace in the region – upholding advocacy of democracy now in practice consistently around the world is a choice, not a necessity, for a nation with pretensions as a guarantor of the global security that the global market requires.

    Sure that means others can pose as more pro democracy than them, but is this to champion democracy or as part of a political imperative to question American policy choices, or simple disagreement with America over support for Israel?

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  10. Hoorah! A revolution in our time – about time too that the Yanks remove their fingers from the strings of the puppets in place in the region. I hope for a peaceful resolution of the plight of the Palestinians – and believe as do other progressive leftist Palestinian people and Jewish Israelies – that Israel needs to drop its apartheid system and become an open democracy – as existed there pre 1948, and also that the worlds leaders should advocate for the UN resolution regarding Jerusalem where the Israeli state should stop destroying or taking over arab parts of the international city… Sorry to see you are retiring comrade – best wishes for your own future – and it was nice to run into you on the street in Picton this summer :)

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  11. Dud says “yawn”

    Frog says
    [Frog: Dud, I note similar comments of no substance from you on other threads. If you persist in trolling and are not prepared to put up an argument that is relevant to the thread topic, it will be into moderation for you.]”

    I’d have to agree with Dud’s concise summation of Keiths post.

    When anything happens anywhere in the world, Keith blames John Key – it’s repetitive, boring and predicatable.

    Some one could drop their hot dog in in Vienna, and Keith would find a way to blame in on John Key.

    So “yawn” is probably the most concise (yet insightful) comment, on Keiths post.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 11 (-1)

  12. Wow photonz1, you’ve outdone yourself.

    When Shonkey Honkey says “stability, leadership and calmness” in reference to Mubaraks governance of Egypt, he damn well should get pulled up on his unbelievable blindness. If that is his mentality concerning untold pain, misery and hundreds of people dying, what hope do we have for a transparent privatisation process here? Government corruption has lead to Egypt imploding. The similarities concerning our Oil and Gas reserves and the privatisation utilized to steal them in Egypt are uncanny.

    Speaking out against human misery and regime atrocities is required. National have completely failed. It appears that they have sided with Mubarak’s regime who has plundered Egypt with the help of the oil industry and America. But that’s OK because Mubarak has ““done his very best to lead a country which has recognised Israel”. Yeah right!

    Come back to planet Earth please Shonkey Honkey et al. Before it’s too late.

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  13. Todd – “Shonkey Honkey”

    Wow – childish name calling – the pinnacle of intelligent and mature debate.

    I’m sure Keith is right and Egyptians will be calling for Keys head next as he’s “let down the Egyptian people” (that is if there is anyone there who knows who he is)

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  14. I trust that’s just a lame attempt at a joke. Key and his poor response is our responsibility, not the Egyptians’. They need not know who he is to be let down by him.

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  15. Key’s no more than a fast follower of what other western leaders do and say – a legacy of his reef fish market trading days.

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  16. Shonkey: Dubious, underhanded. E.g. a shonky practice, shonky business etc.

    Honkey: Several definitions provided for honkey/honky can be reconciled considering the likely subversive evolution of this term. The African slave pidgin term ‘xong’ for red ears is the deep origin. Honkey was a term made popular by the great George Jefferson in the 1970′s and refers to someone of Caucasian skin. It also dates back to the early 1900′s, when affluent white men would honk their car horns in urban areas of America to signal to prostitutes of a business opportunity.

    Definitions involving geese-voices or horse-donkeys are probably spontaneous inventions of users unaware of the word’s original meaning. Through this process, by the time automobiles became popular ‘honkey’ had already become more a derogatory adjective/adverb for anything white rather than a noun for a white person.

    In light of recent developments, it’s an apt descriptive moniker. What say you Frog?

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  17. that Israel needs to drop its apartheid system and become an open democracy – as existed there pre 1948

    What democracy existed in the Palestinian Mandate pre-1948?

    To the topic at hand, I wonder if part of the issue is a concern from Key and Obama that Islamo-Fascists could take over? Remember, Islamo-Fascists have won elections in some Middle Eastern countries, and if Egypt were to fall to them, then it would cause a lot of problems.

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  18. He’s done more than let them down!
    They looked downright p!thed orf on the 6 o’clock news.
    Medieval scenes – rioters on horseback -Taihape on a Friday Night!

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  19. Courtesy of those nice folk over at Aotearoa Indymedia, here are some activism updates:

    Wellington march for Egyptian democracy Saturday 5 February, meet 12pm Midlands Park, CBD
    Solidarity with the Egyptian people supporting their struggle for democracy.
    We will start outside the vodafone building midlands park and make our way past parliament to the US embassy. Bring placards, signs and banners :)

    Or if you’re in Auckland:
    Saturday Feb 5th, 2pm, at Aotea Square we will gather a second time and show our support for the brave souls out on the Egyptian streets protesting relentlessly for their freedom.

    The marches are being supported by Unite! union and Socialist Aotearoa.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4 (-4)

  20. “Islamo-Fascists have won elections in some Middle Eastern countries”

    Where? Fascism in the Arab world is largely associated with the Ba’ath parties, who have been largely secular and don’t seem to win elections (we’ll not honest elections).

    Khaddafi’s state in Libya also seems to have been pretty much fascist – even to the extent of his writings being distributed by the neo-Nazis in Europe – and again, it was secular and not prone to holding elections.

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  21. @john-ston 11:53 PM

    To the topic at hand, I wonder if part of the issue is a concern from Key and Obama that Islamo-Fascists could take over? Remember, Islamo-Fascists have won elections in some Middle Eastern countries, and if Egypt were to fall to them, then it would cause a lot of problems.

    So you would support denying Egyptians a free and fair election because you are wary of the outcome, john-ston? What if that were to happen here?

    Oops, I almost forgot – it did happen here, just last year, in Canterbury. Guess that helps explain Key’s support for Mubarak remaining in power.

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  22. Where?

    Palestinian Territories and Lebanon.

    So you would support denying Egyptians a free and fair election because you are wary of the outcome, john-ston?

    I am not suggesting that as my own view, but pointing out that these world leaders might be worried that the Egyptian equivalent of Hamas gets power.

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  23. “Palestinian Territories and Lebanon.”

    So who was it who was Islamacist and Fascist who got elected there? The Fascist-inspired Falangists in Lebanon were Christian.

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  24. fyi rally in Christchurch , organised by Christchurch Kiwi-Egyptians on Sat 05 Feb, ie tomorrow. Gather at Museum at 1pm for march to the Square
    Here’s a chance to show solidarity with people who want a real change for Egypt. Mubarak is a tyrant.

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  25. Apparently Mubarak’s National Democratic Party was progressive enough to be a member of Socialist International under 30 January this year. Not that the Greens are aligned to that, but it is a bit more complex than those who want to do the usual banal binary “American backed dictator bad” “anything else would be better” approach.

    I will welcome an open free secular liberal democracy in Egypt, as long as it does not wage war against its neighbours directly or by proxy through terror.

    May this also happen in Syria, which has long had a far more brutal and vicious dictatorship than Egypt (which had a more brutal dictatorship under Nasser, but that was conveniently ignored by Western socialists who loved him nationalising the Suez Canal and waging war on Israel).

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  26. @Libertyscott 9:58 PM

    I will welcome an open free secular liberal democracy in Egypt, as long as it does not wage war against its neighbours directly or by proxy through terror.

    How about just a “democracy”, without the qualifications. Not necessarily secular, not necessarily liberal (I suspect you probably mean libertarian). You know, one where the people decide!

    And if the people of Egypt (as determined by genuinely democratic process) want to wage war, that is their democratic right.

    But I would counsel anyone anywhere, including in Egypt, that war should be a last resort in resolving international disputes and should be engaged in only in response to serious human rights violations.

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  27. toad, so your’e saying that the USA and the UK had to right to respond to serious human rights violations in Iraq and go to war? Seriously, perhaps you should qualify your position … .

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  28. Sam are you serious in calling Baath Parties fascist – they were allies of the Soviet Union.

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  29. johnston – The Baath Parties (and Fatah and the party ruling Egypt) include Christians – they would profess to be secular and socialist, they are not Islamo-fascist. As for Hamas, they are no more fascist in ideology than the House of Saud or the the Iranian regime.

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  30. Liberty scott I doubt a liberal secular democaracy in the Middle East would be at war with anyone. I wish there was one.

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  31. “Sam are you serious in calling Baath Parties fascist – they were allies of the Soviet Union.”

    Does being an ally of the Soviet Union disqualify you from being fascist? What about Nazi Germany and the old Molotov-Ribbentrop pact?

    “As for Hamas, they are no more fascist in ideology than the House of Saud or the the Iranian regime.”

    Never noticed anything particularly fascist about Hamas, nor Saudi, which is an old-school monarchy, and Iran is pretty hard to characterise – it’s a sort of patched together flawed democracy with theocratic and authoritarian elements, and an overwhelming bureaucracy. Robert Fisk characterised it as a ‘necrocacy’, still beholden to whatever Khomeini last said.

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  32. Mark Posted February 3,

    One driving factor is that all of these people have been treated to the reality of a Communist State, namely China, embark on a course of progress that has quickly led to a higher standard of living than these, more direct allies of the West.
    +++++
    One thing Muslim countires don’t do (and niehter do Christian) is abortion. A higher standard of living relates to a countries recorces divided by the number of people.

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  33. Sam, in relation to the House of Saud, the claim would have been made because of the Wahhabi aspect to their rule.

    The term Islamo-fascist is a pejorative for Moslem countries that are not seen as democratic. The term fascist is supposedly because of an attempt to link their opposition to Jewish nationalist presence in the ME with fascist Germany’s anti-semitism. It’s often used by western “Judeo-Cristian” culture supremacists of our political right.

    I would have thought there was a socialist internationale aspect to Soviet Union support for Baath Party regime nations Iraq, Syria, Fatah of Palestine and NDP of Egypt.

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  34. “The term Islamo-fascist is a pejorative for Moslem countries that are not seen as democratic.”

    I suspected that in this case the fascist bit of ‘Islamo-fascist’ was being used in the sense Rik on The Young Ones (sorry for those not old enough to get the reference) used the term, i.e. ‘something I don’t like’.

    “I would have thought there was a socialist internationale aspect to Soviet Union support for Baath Party regime nations Iraq, Syria, Fatah of Palestine and NDP of Egypt.”

    Wasn’t that just Cold War politics? Especially in Egypt’s case.

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  35. The parties were and are members of the international group that includes our Labour Party – they were allowed to remain despite Rogernomics, and none of the liberalism in the economic policy of Egypt comes close to that.

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  36. I wonder if the two people who have a problem with Egyptians protesting in favour of having a democracy, or New Zealanders supporting them, could explain whay?

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  37. The term Islamo-fascist is a pejorative for Moslem countries that are not seen as democratic.

    I am using it in its original Hitchens context to describe Islamist extremists. In that case, Hamas would firmly fall under Islamo-Fascism – they are a terrorist group.

    How about just a “democracy”, without the qualifications. Not necessarily secular, not necessarily liberal (I suspect you probably mean libertarian). You know, one where the people decide!

    The problem toad is that without the qualifications, one could get a terrorist group running Egypt – and that would not be a good thing for any freedom loving individual.

    So who was it who was Islamacist and Fascist who got elected there?

    Elements of the March 8 Alliance.

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  38. john-ston, on those grounds the Moslem Brotherhood would not qualify as extremist. Their ambition is akin to achieve as much as the party in government in Turkey (are they Islamo-facists according to Hitchens?). They do not appear to have a military wing as Hamas and Hizbollah have.

    A genuine concern, is not so much for the democratisation of Egypt, but secular society there. Within the framework of Moslem identity to government, alongside Moselm unity across the wider region, is the sort of marginalisation of Christians occuring in Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq extending to Egypt.

    And the subsequent consequences for peace between those Moslem nations and any nation not Moslem – the elephant in the room Israel.

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  39. toad: Democracy without the qualifications of secular and liberal is worthless. It is counting heads regardless of what is in them, and liberal democracy is a particular type of democracy seen in most Western countries that has minimum standards of civil liberties and individual rights. Any politics undergraduate should know this.

    The term democracy has been misused by Marxists (“people’s democracy”), anti-colonialists (“third world democracy”) to justify one party states based on fatuous justifications that aren’t worth presenting here.

    Secularism is critical, otherwise freedom of religion and freedom FROM religion are compromised. If you don’t think that’s important, then you presumably embrace Iran’s brutal form of democracy which means “vote for what you want, as long as it involves the elite’s interpretation of Islam”. No space for those who reject Islam.

    Your statement that a democratic Egypt can wage war is contrary to the UN Charter and I would have thought contrary to the Green mantra of peace and non-violence.

    Finally, you think war should be undertaken to protect human rights? When does this end? The UK did not respond to Germany because of human rights, but because of an existential threat to its own people. THAT is the highest reason for a state to go to war, to protect its own citizens from the invasion by another. Sacrificing your own blood and money to rescue citizens of another state from oppression may be moral, but it is not a moral obligation, for where would it end?

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