With Friends Like These…

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In this Jan. 23 photo, North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il talks with Naguib Sawiris, executive chairman of Cairo-based Orascom Telecom, at an undisclosed place in North Korea. Kim held talks with the Egyptian telecoms magnate whose company set up and operates an advanced mobile phone network in the impoverished communist nation.…Is there any reason to keep any Egyptian government official in power? Beijing and Pyongyang have “lips and teeth”, but Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and North Korea’s Kim Jong-il have ballistic missile sales, according to Don Kirk.

Egypt has counted on North Korea for military aid in the 1970s and began purchasing Scud missiles from North Korea around the time that Mubarak became president. North Korea also provided the technology for Egypt to manufacture missiles on it own.

“Cairo is the hub of North Korea’s missile export,” says Choi Jin-wook, who follows North Korean affairs as senior fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification. Mr. Choi says North Korea’s embassy in Cairo is headquarters for the North’s Middle East military sales network and ranks as the North’s “most important embassy” after its embassy in Beijing.

Choi believes the deal with Orascom calls for North Korea to pay for the telecom network in hard currency earned from the sale of missiles and technology to clients including Iran, Syria, Yemen, and Libya.

Mubarak and Kim Jong-il have more in common than strictly business, say analysts here. They both are long-term dictators with visions of passing on power to their sons – Gamal Mubarak in Egypt and Kim Jong-un in North Korea.

Although the embattled Mubarak now says his son will not succeed him, says Ha Tae-kung, “The idea of succession came from Kim Jong-il.”

You have to admire a man who has the love of both the Israelis, the Americans, AND the North Koreans.

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Filed under: Africa, Korea, Military Tagged: dprk, egypt, hosni mubarak, kim jong il, orascom, scud missiles


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