NZ still taking hands off position on Mubarak

I asked Foreign Minister Murray McCully during Parliament’s question time : “Why is he not calling for the immediate resignation of Hosni Mubarak as Egypt’s President?”

Murray McCully essentially said don’t worry, Mr Mubarak will stand down in September and “a transition in Egyptian leadership is underway”.

I pointed out that Nobel Peace Prize winner and democratic campaigner Mohammed ElBaradei was less optimistic about this transition, and quoted him as saying that “Mubarak is the symbol of an outgoing regime…if he doesn’t leave the regime will retrench and come back – with vengeance.”

ElBaradei has been out on the streets with the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators. Pushed to respond these demonstrators’ demand that Mubarak go now, McCully simply “note[d] the demonstrations the Member refers to”. But he was clearly more interested in the supposed “transition” that had begun in the halls of power.

I suggested that behind McCully’s reluctance to call for Mubarak to resign was a hesitancy to take a stance which differed from the United States government, but Mr McCully did not confirm this.

Finally, Mr McCully joined John Key in giving credit to Mubarak for supposedly helping keep peace in the Middle East. The people of Gaza might not see it exactly the same way. Mubarak’s regime has stopped essential supplies from reaching them.

According to Wikileaks files, Omar Suleiman, Mubarak’s new vice-president is an Israeli agent who spoke daily to Tel Aviv on a secret hotline. Suleiman “wanted Hamas ‘isolated’, and thought Gaza should ‘go hungry but not starve’.

Omar Suleiman is guiding the “transition” that Mr McCully talks about. Unfortunately, our Foreign Minister has more confidence in the Suleimans of this world that the ordinary folk turning up in Tahrir Square each day to demand an end to the regime.

15 Comments Posted

  1. It’s going to be tough for any government there – given population size and growth forecasts and resource limitations. It’s probably an atypical nation at risk from what is becoming a worldwide problem. Ot’s not just a case of Egypt being a ME domino, it’s a worldwide prototype scenario.

    They need peace, intelligent strategy/investment and foreign aid.

    However one should note there are many expats who are very well educated and doing well in the West (including academia). And many of the middle class without work probably aspire to join others in North America and Europe. Becoming persecuted dissidents who can claim political refugee status, or heroes of a revolution, is motivation for the millions of graduates under 30.

  2. “Do the math again about how much of what is available to Egypt.”

    Well, there’s a huge tourist industry (usually) that creates mouths to feed and brings in money that can be used to import food, there’s all manner of things the Egyptians could be exporting in exchange for food, particularly Arabic-speaking labour, which is in huge demand nearby. Of course, if you start off your environmental determinism withan acceptance of nation states as natural boundaries, you will come up with silly answers.

    The town I live in doesn’t produce enough food to feed itself – should it be closed down?

  3. Sam

    Do the math again about how much of what is available to Egypt.

    You reckon the society has been mismanaged to create the excessive population? OK

    …but that does not in any way have anything to do with the availability of resources to feed them.

    Nor does it have anything to do with the unwillingness of OTHER countries to accept additional migrants. Additional population growth is recognized by most developed nations as a “bad thing”. Try to migrate HERE for fnck sake. Good luck with that.

    The lack of food production in Egypt stems, in part, from the way the economy has been mismanaged.

    Here is where the rubber meets the road. Look at the numbers regarding how much land is available and how much water is available, per Egyptian, for food production. Factor in even the slightest inequality of distribution. and there are people there who have next to nothing.

    Arable land per capita: 0.04 Ha (400 m2)
    Arable land per capita in 2043: 0.02 Ha
    Food imports: 40% of requirements
    Grain imports: 60% of requirements

    They blew off their carrying capacity more than a decade ago. Living on borrowed energy ever since. This DOES NOT WORK. Never can work.

    Environmental determinism is wrong when some outside energy source and resource can be invoked. When a nation is forced to accept the limitations of its resources, ie. can’t realistically invade neighbors (or in the case of the USA, whoever if feels like) to get more resources, and it overshoots its population grossly, people get hungry.

    …and no nation, no matter how governed, is more than 3 square meals from revolution.

    This isn’t “almost always” wrong. It is usually true in the records of societies which have disappeared from the face of the earth. When it is correct, the affected society leaves a pyramid here, a stone tiki there, some cliff dwellings somewhere else… and vanishes leaving us to wonder why.

    Dead or gone or both. Misjudging and exceeding the carrying capacity of your nation is an indirect cause of war. We have not really seen the likes of this before now though, not in the modern era.

    …and I expect it to end badly… whether Mubarak is there or not.

    Past performance is no guarantee of future results.


  4. “there is a fundamental ENVIRONMENTAL truth that trumps all the ideological issues.”

    Rubbish – the rapid population growth in Egypt is a symptom of a society that has been mismanaged – for ideological reasons.

    The lack of food production in Egypt stems, in part, from the way the economy has been mismanaged.

    The inability of Egyptians to emigrate is a result of a mismanaged education system and barriers erected by nationalist ideologies.

    Screwing up the ecology – and hence food production – in the Nile valley stems from he ideologically driven construction of the Aswan Dam.

    Environmental determinism is almost alawys wrong.

  5. Wow BJ for once I beat you to the draw! I posted that link yesterday afternoon in General Debate. Damn I’m good!
    At least we have food and water in Kiwiland

  6. It absolutely does not matter whether Mubarak stays, or goes.

    It does not matter that these people are protesting in the streets.

    It does not matter what proximate cause is given to the unrest in the region, there is a fundamental ENVIRONMENTAL truth that trumps all the ideological issues.

    I hope I upset you all enough to get you to read the link.

    Running out of food and fuel = fncked.


  7. I think that this anger in Egypt has been building up since the assassination of Nassar which was carried out by Mossad agents.

    Both the US govt and the Mubarak regimes are somehow in collusion with the terrorist state if Israel.

    And people can be forgiven for thinking that the NZ govt is in collusion with Israel too!!!!!!!!!

  8. As to nations supporting democracies being established in other countries. The problem is being selective about when this is done, rather than taking a principled position across the board.

    Fisk here, with some justification, lets rip on Europe and the USA (we’re not being noticed) for not being simply pro democracy in Egypt and qualifying positions too much.

    However, it’s not about nations being pro the demonstrators and their negotoating positions in every country this occurs in and ignoring the lack of democracy in those countries where dissent is still effectively suppressed and public protest is deterred. It’s not the role of nations to take sides in internal matters of other nations.

    A principled position, with an unbridled lack of hypocrisy, is to support democracy everywhere and to say so whenever the issue is raised. This country “supports a pluralistic civil society institution based democracy being established in all countries. Thus would hope that the institutions of nations seeking to develop into a democracy would act with restraint and develop internal cultures that allow them to avoid partisan involvement in politics.”

    Obviously Egypt needs the army to remain nuetral, and to establish some independent oversight over and within the domestic police to restore credibility of the public institution.

  9. According to the WikiLeaks file, Suleimon was the foreign intelligence point of contact between Egypt and Israel and gave them reassurances that he would clear the Sinai of arms smugglers. It does not call him an Israeli agent, no more than … the President of the USA was being a Soviet Union agent because he kept in hot-line contact with them and sometimes they had common purposes such as keeping the terms of a peace or arms limitation agreement.

    If you think supporting a peace agreement with Israel is being their agent, say so and outright call for Egypt to become “democratic” and then seek war rather than peace with Israel – just don’t expect many countries to agree.

  10. This is just fucked!

    Just about to enter its 17th consecutive day of protests against the rule of President Hosni Mubarak, the uprising of the Egyptian people has been monumental, during which we have witnessed violent methods used by the regime to try and repress freedom and democracy. This has resulted in over 300 dead protestors, mostly from gunshot wounds. Many more have been injured and detained.

    The New Zealand National Government condones murder, torture and injustice by not speaking out against these atrocities. I’m completely ashamed of Mr McGuppy and Shonkey Honkey for their support of Mubarak’s regime of murder and torture.

  11. While Obama calls for immediate and meaningful change, his envoy Wisner, (son of former CIA boss and overseer of the iran CIA coup in 1953 Frank G wisner) sent to sort out the crisis, said Mubarak must stay. The White house distanced itself from his comments. Meanwhile police thugs have raided protesters headquarters taking computers with names of protesters and protest organisers.
    New vice president Suleiman (Reporters, victims of torture, and human rights groups charge that, as head of Egypt’s main intelligence agency, Suleiman has overseen the systematic use of torture on detainees, sometimes at the behest of the United States, and that in at least one instance he personally tortured a detainee. – wikipedia) assured protesters that they will not face prosecution. For some reason they do not believe him. I wonder why?
    Police masquerading as civilians have already gunned down over 300 protesters.

  12. A ‘Regime Change’ doesn’t seem all that Democratic a process either.
    Free and Fair Elections overseen by the UN?

  13. So you dont think that Peace in the Sinai is a good thing Keith?

    So you think the only way to achieve peace (a limited sort of peace too) is to prop up dictators, rjs?

    you dont have to immediately criticise the Government for taking a position on the same lines as the United States

    A better question is why should we so often automatically take the same position as the US?

  14. Finally, Mr McCully joined John Key in giving credit to Mubarak for supposedly helping keep peace in the Middle East. The people of Gaza might not see it exactly the same way.

    So you dont think that Peace in the Sinai is a good thing Keith? I would have thought that Egypt not being in wars in that area, which happened in 1956,67, and 73, which lets face it despite massive support from the Soviet Union didnt go very well for Egypt is a good thing for that country. Instead of thinking we are stuck in the Cold War mentality, you dont have to immediately criticise the Government for taking a position on the same lines as the United States

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