Cameron is in the Middle East to promote the arms trade, not democracy


9:02 am - February 22nd 2011

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contribution by Sohail Jannesari

David Cameron’s decision to fly to Egypt for talks with leading government and opposition figures is not, as he states, to ensure “a genuine transition from military rule to civilian rule”. It is to safeguard the geo-political balance which was present under Hosni Mubarak.

It is no surprise that Cameron is reportedly accompanied by personnel from no less than eight different defence firms.

This geo-political balance includes Western economic interests, such as access to oil and weapons sales.

Israel’s interests also are central. The West was far quicker to praise the military’s statement that they will honour the Israeli Peace Treaty, than the bravery of the protesters.

Then there is the related goal of limiting Iranian influence in the region. Alarm bells must already be ringing after Iran has decided to test the waters (literally) by asking to sail ships to Syria through the Suez.

Lastly, there is the presence of US military personnel in the Sinai and Cairo which helps to underwrite all of the above goals. US troops are stationed at the West-Cairo Airbase whose former commander, incidentally, was a Mr Mubarak.

The West wants to make sure that these advantages are maintained.

This is why Cameron is so eager to visit the country before democracy has been established, even though he risks legitimising the current military rule. It is why he has neglected to talk to anyone from Egypt’s most popular opposition party: the Muslim Brotherhood, as they will not acquiesce to Western interests.

Democracy which doesn’t align itself with Western demands is likely to be condemned, as it was when the Palestinians had the audacity to vote for Hamas.

Cameron’s arrival signals the start of a wave of Western officials attempting to retain influence.

Senior US diplomat William J Burns is already there and no doubt others will join him soon. The ugly scramble to preserve the geopolitical status-quo has begun.


Sohail is currently studying at Cambridge University

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Reader comments


The West was far quicker to praise the military’s statement that they will honour the Israeli Peace Treaty, than the bravery of the protesters.

citation needed

I do hope he’s not there just to flog weaponry. I am not surprised that the leader of a Western nation hopes that new governments in the region will align themselves with the West, if you want to use generalizations, rather than say Iran.

And what you think Blair went shaking hands with Caddafi for anything else then Oil guns, and his bank ballance, did you?.

Cameron has not spoken to the delightful MB, you say?
Disgraceful!

He wants continued Egyptian peace with Israel?
Outrageous!!

He’s worried about Iranian troublemaking?
Ridiculous!!!

“The ugly scramble to preserve the geopolitical status-quo has begun”

Er, would it not be rather bizarre if Cameron didn’t try to preserve what we liked about the previous status quo while discouraging changes that would not suit us (meaning the West)?

Imagine if:
Egypt decides not to honour the peace treaty with Israel
Iran sends warships into the Suez canal (already happening)
US troops are expelled from Egypt

Should we be happy? I think we probably should NOT and it’s entirely right and proper that we say so.

Cameron quite rightly refused to interfere during the protests in Egypt while stressing that the Mubarak regime should “show restraint”. That was an internal matter to be resolved by the Egyptian people themselves (which it was). Geopolitical issues are, by definition, everyone’s concern and it would be criminal of Cameron not to seek to exert an influence on events.

There is dirt on any governments hands who deal with most countries in the Middle East concerning arms and oil. The Big one Saudia Arabia is the worst oppressive country especially to half it’s population and which all governments in the world seem to deal with.

“Democracy which doesn’t align itself with Western demands is likely to be condemned, as it was when the Palestinians had the audacity to vote for Hamas.”

And it doesn’t look like Hamas wants to give them a chance to change their minds, does it?!

Meanwhile you forgot to mention
“Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Tuesday said Hamas authorities in Gaza quashed a solidarity demonstration with Egypt last week.”

http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=177081805668382&comments&ref=mf

I have a feeling that if this was Blair the likes of cjcjc would be saying someting different.

It is an outrage that Cameron should be touring the Middle East at the present tim with a raft of arms dealers at his side. he may want to reduce the deficit – but with blood money?

@cjcjc, I don’t think the Western criticism of Hamas was because they were concerned that somewhere down the line, Hamas would stifle democracy.

@tbm, the protesters were also asked to show “restraint”… to me it seemed liked they (the protesters and the regime) were being treated as equal parties by the West. Compare this with Iran; I don’t remember Western Governments calling for restraint from both sides…

“Call me Dave the liar” is Just another puppet of the military industrial complex.

No doubt the tax payer is paying for this free promotion of the arms trade. Once again corporate welfare at its worst.

Everything about this piece of shit of a human being makes me want to vomit.

Surely Cameron’s tour was to:

a) Offer his supreme experience with crowd control as ineptly demonstrated with the handling of the student protests;

b) Pick up tips on sniper training. You never know when these will come in handy.

Perhaps not – there are quite a few reasons on the list, aren’t there?

Aren’t there???

‘This is why Cameron is so eager to visit the country before democracy has been established, even though he risks legitimising the current military rule. It is why he has neglected to talk to anyone from Egypt’s most popular opposition party: the Muslim Brotherhood, as they will not acquiesce to Western interests.

‘Democracy which doesn’t align itself with Western demands is likely to be condemned, as it was when the Palestinians had the audacity to vote for Hamas.’

Yeah, what Cameron should be doing is cosying up Islamists precisely because they oppose ‘Western interests’ like secularism, democracy and rights for women and homosexuals.

That’ll show America and Israel, fuck yeah!

cjcjc, if you can’t actually name any crimes committed by the MB in Egypt then don’t talk about them as if they’re criminals.

Hope this helps!

On the same page as the article on Cameron’s “overshadowed by defence tour” visit, the Guardian website also features in its holiday offers “Libya Unveiled” – an 8-night adventure holiday costing around £1,500. Click on the link –
http://www.guardianholidayoffers.co.uk/holiday/2076/libya-unveiled – and the promo says “This nine day itinerary to Libya will truly blow your socks off”.

Is it April 1st or am I missing something here?

I think you’ll find I referred to them as “delightful”.

Meanwhile I’m sure you, like me, would prefer Egypt to become a liberal secular democracy, for everyone’s sake.

Erm, you would, wouldn’t you?

C’mon. Making weapons and weapons systems is a big, internationally competitive business and Britain’s armaments industry is reckoned to be in the top four in the world:

It is estimated that yearly, over 1.5 trillion dollars are spent on military expenditures worldwide (2.7% of World GDP). Part of this goes to the procurement of military hardware and services from the military industry. The combined arms sales of the top 100 largest arms producing companies amounted to an estimated $315 billion in 2006.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arms_industry

George Bernard Shaw: There is nothing so bad or so good that you will not find Englishmen doing it; but you will never find an Englishman in the wrong. He does everything on principle. He fights you on patriotic principles; he robs you on business principles; he enslaves you on imperial principles; he bullies you on manly principles; he supports his king on loyal principles, and cuts off his king’s head on republican principles. His watchword is always duty; and he never forgets that the nation which lets its duty get on the opposite side to its interest is lost. [The man of destiny]
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/4024/4024-h/4024-h.htm

Well fine sell weapons but stop then telling people how peaceful you want to be, stop moaning about others who sell weapons and let the tyrants alone.

I’m pretty sure this trip was arranged before the troubles in Egypt started.

This piece really doesn’t strike me as particularly serious. It is as if the author has tried to think up the lowest possible motivations for any western actions and once identified – is satisfied that those are the true and correct ones.

I condemn Hamas, democraticly elected or otherwise. They do not respect individual rights and liberties and without that democracy is somewhat of a sham. It must also be remembered what Hamas have done in the past to position themselves as the people’s favorite. The people may well have turned to them at disatisfaction with the progress Fatah had made… but who was the arab group sabotaging the peace process at every turn? (Yes I know Zionists did their fair share too) Not to mention the fact that elections are now off the cards in Gaza – at least until the internal divisions within the Palestinian people can be resolved…. and who knows how long that will take.

@14 gtw

I don’t think anyone here is saying the MB have committed crimes, but are you so convinced that they would contribute towards a democratic future for Egypt?

Seems more likely that they will in fact do everything they can to attain a position which allows them to restrict not just political and religious freedom in pursuit of their aims, but more broadly control social, economic and cultural policy.

Hang about, guys, here you are debating whether a new government might crack down on civilians and yet you seem to have elided the revalation that Cameron is trying to flog them armaments. One thing Egypt doesn’t need – along with, say, Islamic radicalism or Tony Blair as a peace envoy – it’s guns.

But woudl Cameron not going to Egypt prevent them from getting guns? Britain is of course not the only supplier – and if weapons are wanted, weapons will be obtained. Maybe it would be preferred that Egypt got their weapons from China instead. Of course that would bring enrich the Chinese weapons industry and bring an element of Chinese policy influence on a fledgling democracy.

I’d prefer that influence and that economic benifit to be assigned to Britain over China – both as a Brit and if I was Egyptian.

Sohail –

I am sure you are well informed but others are too – reports from bloggers and activists on the ground seem to send the message that the Muslim Brotherhood’s vision has been squarely rejected by those who were protesting.

And popularity of a political party can only be tested through the ballot box – I am sure you would agree – and so before you start tagging them as the most “popular” political party I suggest you wait until the elections.

When nutters attacked Christians in the Church a few months ago in Egypt – thousands of Egyptian Muslims came out on a Sunday to offer themselves as human shields. That does not signify adhering to the beliefs of the Muslim Brotherhood whose politics and world view is defined by their religion.

And as Galen has pointed out – so far the history of religious parties in power goes against the Muslim Brotherhood’s chances in the elections – religious parties are not very big on democracy and Egyptians, in my humble opinion, most likely would not want to put themselves under another dictator after getting rid of one.

And Hamas is unqualified bad news – they claim success over the blood of those they presume to protect. I guess you missed out on the news about how they cracked down on protests that were showing solidarity with Egyptians.

More importantly, you forget another thing – sometimes we are divided politically in this country but there are times when our Prime Minister speaks for all of us and I think,except for the loonies on the far right and the left, yesterday was one such occassion.

And I am being exceptionally kind to you – don’t know why because the article is crap and shows how immature you are.


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