Mr Mudzuri said he had now learnt that anything could happen. “How then can I stand up and guarantee the safety of these visitors? I can’t do that.”Zimbabwe’s civic groups, who have formed an umbrella group called Organised Resistance, have also promised widespread demonstrations during the World Cup matches to expose Mr Mugabe’s brutality. A leader of the umbrella group, Lovemore Madhuku, said his group was calling for a national strike, which would prove to the cricket authorities that their decision to play cricket in Harare amid the struggle for democracy in the beleaguered country was insane.Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader, has publicly urged the England cricketers not to travel to Harare. His party was accused by Zimbabwe police last night of fomenting a secret plot to disrupt the matches and embarrass Mr Mugabe’s government. The police vowed to thwart any such plans.World Cup organisers welcomed the England decision. The Australian team has come under similar pressure from its government.
President Mugabe branded all Australians as criminals yesterday and described John Howard, the country’s Prime Minister, as “a product of genetically modified criminals”.. The Foreign Office today issued a warning to British holidaymakers travelling to Tanzania, after information was received that terrorists were planning an attack. The spokeswoman added: “The assessment that most visits to Tanzania are trouble free remains in force.”. There was secret collusion, a fraudulent attempt to use the United Nations as a fig leaf for war, a largely unsympathetic British public, journalists used as propagandists and our enemy – an Arab dictator previously regarded as a friend of the West – compared to the worst criminals of the Second World War. Sound familiar? Well, it happened almost half a century ago, not over oil but over a narrow man-made canal linking the Mediterranean with the Red Sea. For Suez destroyed a British prime minister – along, almost, with the Anglo-American alliance – and symbolised the end of the British empire.It killed many civilians – all Egyptian, of course – and brought shame upon the allies when they turned out to have committed war crimes.
It rested on a lie – that British and French troops should land in Egypt to “separate” the Egyptian and Israeli armies, even though the British and French had earlier connived at Israel’s invasion. Colonel Gamal Abdul Nasser was described by the British Prime Minister, Anthony Eden, as “the Mussolini of the Nile” even though, scarcely a year earlier, Eden had warmly shaken Nasser’s hand in an exchange of congratulations over a new Anglo-Egyptian treaty – shades of Donald Rumsfeld’s chummy meeting with the “Hitler of Baghdad” in 1983. In the end, British troops – poorly equipped and treating their Egyptian enemies with racial disdain – left in humiliation, digging up their dead comrades from their graves to freight back home lest the Egyptians defiled their bodies.Suez was a complex crisis, but it revolved around Nasser’s decision – against international agreements – to nationalise the canal and take over the Suez Canal Company. British banks and business had long dominated investment in Egypt and held a 44 per cent stake in the company, originally negotiated by Benjamin Disraeli.Nasser’s takeover was greeted with delirium by Egyptian crowds, who had been aghast at America’s earlier withdrawal from the Aswan High Dam project. The code word for the takeover was “de Lesseps”, who had built the canal when Egypt was part of the Ottoman Empire, and the moment he uttered the Frenchman’s name in a radio speech, Nasser’s armed collaborators were to storm the company’s offices. “I listened to the radio throughout his speech,” one of them told me many years later. “Nasser used the code word “de Lesseps” 13 times – we thought he was going to give us all away.”In London, Eden summoned his chiefs of staff.