Category: Politics

Interview with Bahrain’s Al Ayam newspaper on the state of New Zealand-Gulf relations in 2024

The following article/interview originally appeared in Arabic in Bahrain’s Al Ayam newspaper on Sunday, 21 January 2024, under the headline ‘Strengthening New Zealand-Gulf relations needs to be a priority for our countries’. I have lightly edited the following English translation from Google Translate. International political analyst at the Democracy Project at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, Geoffrey Miller, stressed to Al Ayam the importance of strengthening relations between his country and the Arab Gulf states, calling for strengthening relations with the Gulf states to be a priority on his country’s foreign policy map. Miller – who also runs...

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New Zealand’s huge shift in the Middle East

New Zealand is reshaping its foreign policy via the Middle East. A decision to provide intelligence support for future US and UK airstrikes on Yemen is highly symbolic. The Prime Minister, Christopher Luxon, announced the deployment of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) troops to support the US-led military response to the attacks on commercial shipping from Houthis in Yemen that began on November 19. In announcing the contribution, Luxon played down its uniqueness, saying ‘choosing to support action in the Middle East is not unusual for New Zealand’. This was immediately echoed by his foreign minister, Winston Peters, who...

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New Zealand’s foreign policy resets on AUKUS, Gaza and Ukraine

New Zealand’s international relations are under new management. And Winston Peters, the new foreign minister, is already setting a change agenda. As expected, this includes a more pro-US positioning when it comes to the Pacific – where Peters will be picking up where he left off. Peters sought to align New Zealand more closely with the United States under his ‘Pacific Reset’ policy that he launched while serving as foreign minister under Jacinda Ardern’s Labour-New Zealand First coalition government from 2017-2020. Peters is wasting no time in getting back on the foreign affairs horse. Just three days after being sworn...

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New Zealand’s strategy for COP28 in Dubai

The COP28 countdown is on. Over 100 world leaders are expected to attend this year’s UN Climate Change Conference in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which starts next Thursday. Among the VIPs confirmed for the Dubai summit are the UK’s Rishi Sunak and Brazil’s Lula da Silva – along with King Charles and Pope Francis. On the other hand, Joe Biden and Xi Jinping are both unlikely to join in – and neither is Australia’s Anthony Albanese. It remains to be seen which camp New Zealand’s new Prime Minister will fall into. Christopher Luxon is only expected to be formally...

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The foreign affairs puzzle facing New Zealand’s new Government

New Zealand’s new Government will need to hit the ground running on foreign affairs. Determining New Zealand’s full response to the war in Gaza and the fallout in the wider Middle East will be the first major test for whoever takes the foreign minister’s role. New Zealand has been run by a Labour caretaker administration since elections were held on October 14.  But the final results are now in – and once coalition negotiations are out of the way, a new right-leaning government will take office. During the transition period, caretaker Labour Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and outgoing foreign minister...

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Geoffrey Miller: How will New Zealand handle the new war in the Middle East?

The weekend’s surprise and brutal attack on Israel by Hamas fighters has the potential to reshape the Middle East – and will only further increase global geopolitical instability. The initial 36 hours of the assault by Hamas on Israel have already taken at least 600 Israeli lives – easily making it the bloodiest time for Israel since the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In addition, dozens of Israelis have been kidnapped and taken back to Gaza to be used as bargaining chips. While there will be a range of motivations for why Hamas chose to act in the way it did...

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Who will be New Zealand’s next foreign minister?

Change is coming. A shakeup of the ministers responsible for New Zealand’s international relations seems almost guaranteed, irrespective of the country’s election result on October 14. Coalition politics are likely to play a key role in appointments related to foreign affairs. On current opinion polling, a government led by the centre-right National Party would probably need to work with both the right-wing Act and more centrist New Zealand First if it wants to govern with a stable majority. Winston Peters, New Zealand First’s leader, has already served as foreign minister twice before: once from 2005-2008 and then again from 2017-2020...

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New Zealand changes tack in the Gulf

A sign of things to come. That might be the best way to interpret New Zealand trade minister Damien O’Connor’s recent foray into the Middle East. O’Connor stopped off in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi on a brief, yet important trip that comes as New Zealand prepares for its October 14 election. The biggest takeaway was that New Zealand would enter preliminary talks with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on a new Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) – mirroring a new approach announced by Australia in 2022. Wellington is also following in the footsteps of countries that have already signed similar...

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Should New Zealand build bridges with the BRICS?

The BRICS are back. Johannesburg will this week host the 15th annual summit of the BRICS, an acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The loose grouping may be about to become tighter – and bigger. Some 40 countries have expressed interest in joining the BRICS, which already represent over 40 per cent of the world’s population and 30 per cent of global GDP when measured using purchasing power parity (PPP). Potential new BRICS members span the globe, from Africa to Asia and Latin America. Candidates and formal applicants include Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and the UAE....

New Zealand’s big foreign and defence policy shake-up

New Zealand is joining the pack to counter China – and will probably seek to join AUKUS. Those are the key takeaways from a barrage of new plans to reshape New Zealand’s defence policy. Not just one, but three new reports were released simultaneously on Friday morning by the country’s Labour defence minister, Andrew Little. These include New Zealand’s inaugural National Security Strategy, along with a military-focused Defence Policy and Strategy Statement. A third document, the ‘Future Force Design Principles’, spells out some further general recommendations for reconfiguring New Zealand’s military. Collectively, the publicly-released plans – which run to over...

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