Category: Politics

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New Zealand’s Middle East strategy, 20 years after the Iraq War

This week marks the twentieth anniversary of the Iraq War. While it strongly opposed the US-led invasion, New Zealand’s then Labour-led government led by Prime Minister Helen Clark did deploy military engineers to try to help rebuild Iraq in mid-2003. With violence soaring, their 12-month deployment ended without being renewed further, in 2004. However, New Zealand re-entered Iraq in 2015 as part of the international coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist group. The emergence and growth of ISIS was one of many unintended consequences of the Iraq War’s disastrous and bloody aftermath. The Government announced...

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New Zealand’s foreign policy hardens under new leadership

Times are changing in New Zealand foreign policy. That seems to be the message from New Zealand’s new triumvirate of ministers with responsibility for foreign affairs and defence – Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta and defence minister Andrew Little. Jacinda Ardern’s departure as Prime Minister was always going to provide an opportunity to adjust New Zealand’s positioning. In particular, Hipkins’ decision to appoint Andrew Little as defence minister – replacing Peeni Henare – seems to have been a strategic move. From the top, Hipkins has struck a more ideological tone in his most substantive comments on foreign...

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New Zealand resets relationships with Australia and India

The first clues to New Zealand’s foreign policy after Jacinda Ardern are beginning to emerge. Chris Hipkins, the new Prime Minister, decided to retain Nanaia Mahuta as his foreign minister – and both Hipkins and Mahuta took to the skies last week. While Hipkins headed to Australia – the customary first destination for an incoming New Zealand Prime Minister – Mahuta flew to India on a surprise trip announced just a day prior to her departure. In very different contexts, the pair managed to smooth over differences and pave the way for deeper partnerships – which may well involve greater...

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Jacinda Ardern’s outsized New Zealand foreign policy legacy

Jacinda Ardern had an outsized impact on New Zealand’s international relations. While all Prime Ministers travel internationally, Ardern’s calendar was fuller than most. Ardern’s first major foreign trip came within weeks of her election in 2017, to the APEC summit in Vietnam. The meeting gave Ardern her first in-person encounter with Donald Trump, who she told ‘no-one marched when I was elected’ after Trump suggested she had ‘caused a lot of upset’ in New Zealand. Ardern was often cast as the ‘anti-Trump’ figure by commentators during the first years of her premiership, and her comments at her first UN General...

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What Japan’s foreign policy shifts mean for New Zealand

Japan is a country on the move. Since World War II, Tokyo has largely been happy to outsource its security needs to Washington. But this is now changing to a more equal partnership. On Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called his country’s alliance with the United States ‘stronger than ever’. For his part, US President Joe Biden, who hosted Kishida at the White House, said the United States was ‘fully, thoroughly, completely committed to the alliance’ with Japan. The words from Kishida and Biden might seem like the usual diplomatic niceties, but behind the smiles from the two leaders...

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What to expect from Volodymyr Zelensky’s address to the New Zealand Parliament

As New Zealand’s foreign policy year draws to a close, it seems fitting that Volodymyr Zelensky will have the final word. Ukraine’s President is scheduled to address the New Zealand Parliament in Wellington by video link early on Wednesday morning, local time. New Zealand is something of a latecomer when it comes to inviting Zelensky to speak to its legislature in 2022. Zelensky did the rounds of most Western countries during the first half of the year, especially in March and April. Parliaments in the United Kingdom, United States and EU countries were first in line, but Australia took its...

Impressions from the Global Media Congress in Abu Dhabi

Recently I had the privilege to attend the Global Media Congress in Abu Dhabi. This was a wonderful opportunity and I was really lucky to be invited to attend the event as a guest of the Emirates News Agency, upon the recommendation of the UAE Embassy in Wellington. It was a great chance to use and practise my Arabic and I was surprised by just how much Arabic I was able to speak and use, both with attendees at the Global Media Congress and generally with Arabic speakers on the street in the UAE. This was hugely encouraging and motivating,...

رحلة جاسيندا أرديرن إلى آسيا تعيد إحياء السياسة الخارجية المستقلة لنيوزيلندا

This is an Arabic translation of my article ‘Jacinda Ardern’s Asia trip rekindles New Zealand’s independent foreign policy’ by Yousef Abou Ammar, a freelance journalist based in Sydney. My thanks to Yousef for both translating the article and for allowing me to share it here: رأي – عودة السياسة الخارجية المستقلة لنيوزيلندا.رسالة أساسية أساسية من رحلة جاسيندا أرديرن Jacinda Ardern إلى جنوب شرق آسيا هذا الأسبوع. حضرت رئيسة الوزراء النيوزيلندية قمة شرق آسيا في كمبوديا في نهاية الأسبوع. وستتوجه إلى تايلاند لحضور اجتماع قادة الأبيك في وقت لاحق من الأسبوع. وتقوم أرديرن Ardern أيضًا بزيارة مفاجئة لفيتنام تستغرق أربعة أيام....

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Does New Zealand need to up its game with World Cup host Qatar?

As the FIFA World Cup gets underway in Qatar, it is worth looking at the state of New Zealand’s wider relationship with the host nation. While New Zealand often likes to think of itself as a small country, it comfortably outranks Qatar in both size and population. In terms of area, Qatar is just over twice the size of the greater Auckland region. And the Gulf state’s population – at just under 3 million – makes New Zealand’s own 5 million figure seem generous. But as the World Cup shows, size is no obstacle to Doha’s ambitions. By some estimates,...

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Jacinda Ardern’s Asia trip rekindles New Zealand’s independent foreign policy

New Zealand’s independent foreign policy is back. That’s a key underlying message from Jacinda Ardern’s trip this week to Southeast Asia. The New Zealand Prime Minister attended the East Asia Summit in Cambodia over the weekend. She will head to Thailand for the APEC leaders’ meeting later in the week. In between, Ardern is also making a surprise four-day bilateral visit to Vietnam. As has become customary for much of Ardern’s foreign travel, the Vietnam portion of this week’s trip is being branded as a ‘trade mission’, a strategy deployed in part to deflect potential domestic criticism of the PM... - Understand the world through New Zealand