Protesting in Egypt
Madam, – The reply of John Limbert, former ambassador to Iran, to Lara Marlowe’s question to him on the ethics of US foreign policy (World News, January 29th), when he says, “Sometimes you need to deal with governments that are not democratic”, encapsulates the hypocrisy of such policies in the Middle East, now seriously exposed by the protests of ordinary Egyptians eager for change and true democracy.
US foreign policy, for the last 30 years, has uncritically supported the dictatorial regime of Hosni Mubarak which, according to WikiLeaks received $1.3 billion of US military aid in 2010 alone. The tear gas, water cannon, truncheons and bullets used by the police against the protesters have “Made in the USA” written all over them.
The reticence of the US government on Friday evening last as brave protesters defied the curfew, was exemplified by Hilary Clinton’s muddled statements throughout the week, which went from describing the Mubarak regime as “stable” on Tuesday to acknowledging on Friday that the Egyptian people had indeed genuine grievances that could not be addressed by violence, and finally on Sunday that there should be “free and fair elections”. Too little too late, given her government’s acquiescence in Egypt’s rigged elections two months ago. This verbal gymnastics over a week reflects the deep turmoil in the US administration over the exposure of its unethical foreign policy, an exposure brought about by the protests of ordinary brave Egyptians.
Irish politicians and parties have been equally contradictory. As Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin signed a co-operation arrangement with the Mubarak regime in 2008 and the Irish Labour Party is, unbelievably, affiliated to Mubarak’s misnamed National Democratic Party. All the Irish political parties should now publicly use their influence to demand an end to the suppression of democratic protests, call on Mubarak to step down and allow genuine democratic elections.
While the situation is now precarious, the brave protests by ordinary Egyptian people give the first signs of hope in many decades for a better future for the entire population of the Middle East, not least the oppressed Palestinians across the border. – Yours, etc,