Contents of the United States diplomatic cables leak (Middle East)


Contents of the United States diplomatic cables leak (Middle East)

Content from the United States diplomatic cables leak has depicted the United States' opinion of the Middle East-related subjects extensively. The leak, which began on 28 November 2010, occurred when the website of WikiLeaks — an international new media non-profit organisation that publishes submissions of otherwise unavailable documents from anonymous news sources and news leaks — started to publish classified documents of detailed correspondence — diplomatic cables — between the United States Department of State and its diplomatic missions around the world. Since the initial release date, WikiLeaks is releasing further documents every day.

Contents

Algeria

In a cable from the end of 2007, the US Ambassador summarizes how former government officials, opposition leaders and journalists 'paint a picture of an Algerian regime that is fragile in ways it has not been before, plagued by a lack of vision, unprecedented levels of corruption and rumblings of division within the military rank and file'.[1]

Bahrain

Iran and Qatar conspiring the split Arabs

Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain has expressed worries that Iran is conspiring with Qatar, Hezbollah and Hamas to split Arabs. Bahrain and other Arab governments lashed out on media reports that an Iranian official described Bahrain as "Iran's fourteenth province."[2]

Hariri assassination blame falls on Syria

King Hamad had no doubt that Syria was behind the assassination of Rafik Hariri.[3]

Bahrain wants to develop its TV/Radio capability

King Hamad said that he instructed Bahrain's Minister of Information Abdul-Ghaffar to seek help from the U.S. to help Bahrain turn its television broadcasting into a world class operation.[3]

Egypt

Free elections and Mubarak succession

Hosni Mubarak, President of Egypt, is likely to stay in power until he dies. The absence of free and fair elections means he will almost certainly hold the post for as long as he is willing to stand.[4][5] Ambassador Scobey reported that, "Despite incessant whispered discussions, no one in Egypt has any certainty about who will eventually succeed Mubarak nor under what circumstances." She described his vision of presidential succession, stating, "Indeed, he seems to be trusting to God and the ubiquitous military and civilian security services to ensure an orderly transition."[5]

Defense Minister Tantawi

One interlocutor told U.S. diplomats in Cairo in 2008, “One can hear mid-level officers at MOD clubs around Cairo openly expressing disdain for Tantawi.” These officers refer to Tantawi as “Mubarak’s poodle” and complain that “this incompetent Defense Minister”, who reached his position only because of unwavering loyalty to Mubarak is “running the military into the ground.” Tantawi yearns for U.S. aid to be spent on advanced tanks and fighter jets to fight old-fashioned, large-scale wars while U.S. officers, including Gen. David Petraeus, have for years pressed for upgrades in pedestrian but important areas, most notably border security and anti-smuggling operations on the border with Gaza.[6]

Tantawi also appears an unlikely reformer. A 2008 cable summarized his views as being opposed to political or economic reform, willing to use the army to curb the Muslim Brotherhood, and bristling at U.S. efforts to condition economic aid on any human-rights reform.[7]

Egyptian/American Relations

US embassy cables show that the Obama administration wanted to maintain a close political and military relationship with Hosni Mubarak. A May 2009 briefing note reported that Mubarak had a dismal opinion of George W. Bush. "The Egyptians want the visit to demonstrate that Egypt remains America's 'indispensable Arab ally', and that bilateral tensions have abated. President Mubarak is the proud leader of a proud nation ... Mubarak is 81 years old and in reasonably good health; his most notable problem is a hearing deficit in his left ear. He responds well to respect for Egypt and for his position, but is not swayed by personal flattery." the cable said. "Mubarak peppers his observations with anecdotes that demonstrate both his long experience and his sense of humor ... During his 28-year tenure, he survived at least three assassination attempts, maintained peace with Israel, weathered two wars in Iraq and post-2003 regional instability, intermittent economic downturns, and a manageable but chronic internal terrorist threat...He is a tried and true realist, innately cautious and conservative, and has little time for idealistic goals. Mubarak viewed President Bush as naive, controlled by subordinates, and totally unprepared for dealing with post-Saddam Iraq, especially the rise of Iran's regional influence." A March 2009 cable depicts the USA's military relationship with Egypt. The cable said; "President Mubarak and military leaders view our military assistance programme as the cornerstone of our mil-mil relationship and consider the $1.3bn in annual FMF as 'untouchable compensation' for making and maintaining peace with Israel. The tangible benefits to our mil-mil relationship are clear: Egypt remains at peace with Israel, and the US military enjoys priority access to the Suez canal and Egyptian airspace."[8][9][10]

Iraq War

Mubarak told the U.S. to find a "fair dictator" to rule Iraq. He explains, "Strengthen the Iraqi armed forces, relax your hold, and then you will have a coup. Then we will have a dictator, but a fair one." [11]

Egypt-Iran relations

Mubarak expressed animosity toward Iran in private meetings, saying the Iranian leaders are "big, fat liars", and that Iran's backing of terrorism is "well-known".[12] According to one U.S. report, Mubarak views Iran as the primary long-term challenge facing Egypt, and an Egyptian official said that Iran is running agents inside Egypt in an effort to subvert the Egyptian regime.[13]

Jordan

Iran-Jordan relations

A diplomatic cable, dated April 2, 2009, quotes Zeid Rifai, then-president of the Jordanian Senate, as saying, "Bomb Iran, or live with an Iranian bomb. Sanctions, carrots, incentives won't matter", in a conversation with David Hale, U.S. Ambassador to Jordan. The cable further states, "while Rifai judged a military strike would have 'catastrophic impact on the region,' he nonetheless thought preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons would pay enough dividends to make it worth the risks".[14]

Kuwait

Guantanamo Bay detainees

Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah referring to Kuwaiti Guantanamo detainees said "You know better than I that we cannot deal with these people (the Guantanamo detainees). I can't detain them. If I take their passports, they will sue to get them back. I can talk to you into next week about building a rehabilitation center, but it won't happen. We are not Saudi Arabia; we cannot isolate these people in desert camps or somewhere on an island. We cannot compel them to stay. If they are rotten, they are rotten and the best thing to do is get rid of them. You picked them up in Afghanistan; you should drop them off in Afghanistan, in the middle of the war zone".[15]

Iran funds Shiite extremists

Kuwait believes that Iran was supporting Shia extremists in the Gulf and the Shiite Houthis in Yemen.[16]

US militarily helping Gulf States

US military is assisting Gulf states in beefing up ballistic missile and counter air defenses, as well as early warning systems in the eventuality of an Iranian missile launch.[16]

Kuwait based charities financing extremism

Al Qaida and other groups continue to exploit Kuwait both as a source of funds and as a key transit point. Kuwaiti donors serve as an important source of funds and other support for Al Qa'ida and other terrorist groups.[17]

Lebanon

2006 Lebanon War

Two years after a 34-day military conflict in Lebanon and northern Israel, Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr apparently gave a message to US diplomats, intended to be passed on to Israeli authorities, stating that the Lebanese authorities would allow the Israeli military to attack Lebanon provided that they would destroy much of the Hezbollah and the communities in Lebanon’s south that support it and do not attack Christian communities and do not pass certain geographical boundaries.[18] According to the cable, "Murr was especially concerned for members of the 1st and 8th Brigades in the Beka'a valley. ... Murr is afraid that these two units could be dragged into the fight, the ultimate disaster that Murr hopes to avoid. As such, Murr is trying to ascertain how long an offensive would be required to clean out Hizballah in the Beka'a. The LAF [Lebanese Armed Forces] will move to pre-position food, money, and water with these units so they can stay on their bases when Israel comes for Hizballah--discreetly, Murr added."[19] The message had been discussed with the incumbent President of Lebanon Michel Sleiman, who at the time was Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces,[18] with Murr stating that "he promised Sleiman the political cover for LAF inaction."[19]

Emirati and Saudi involvement

The online Lebanese newspaper Naharnet focussed on Saudi Arabian financial non-involvement and United Arab Emirates (UAE) military involvement in the 2009 Lebanese general election and US officials' opinions of these.[20] According to an April 2009 cable, Saudi Arabia did not financially support the March 14 Alliance.[21] US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supported military involvement in the election, referring to "the need to support Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in the run up to the elections with concrete displays of support."[21] Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Jeffrey Feltman stated that "the UAE had been particularly helpful already by funding the delivery of the first ten refurbished tanks for the LAF."[21]

Saad Hariri's-Hezbollah animosity

According to Al Akhbar newspaper, Saad Hariri has vowed to crush Hizbollah once the Lebanese Army is consolidated. Druze leader MP Walid Jumblat, leader of the Progressive Socialist Party, expressed his concerns during a meeting with the-then U.S. Charge d'Affairs Michele Sisone over reports indicating that Prime Minister Saad Hariri's Future Movement was training a Sunni militia composed of 15,000 men in Beirut and more than this number in the northern city of Tripoli to fight Hizbollah. Jumblat said that the establishment of private security companies by Hariri in Beirut and Tripoli indicated that "some persons", like Major General Ashraf Rifi, director general of the Internal Security Forces (ISF), were giving Hariri bad advice. It was also revealead that Wissam al-Hassan, currently the head of the ISF's Intelligence Branch and very close to Hariri, said that Rifi was wrong in advising Hariri to establish a Sunni militia. Jumblat was also worried that Hariri's militia might cause heavy damage to the March 14 groups, especially since the Lebanese Forces led by Samir Geagea and Suleiman Frangieh's Marada Movement were training their supporters at the same time. Frangieh, is an arch enemy of Geagea and a key member of the Syrian-backed Hizbullah-led March 8 alliance.[22][23][24]

Samir Geagea's militia

Al Akhbar newspaper also revealed Samir Geagea met with Michele Sisone, telling her that he had from 7,000 to 10,000 fighters ready to move to fight Hizbullah. Geagea told Sisone he wanted all parties pressure the Lebanese Army to do its job and that he was unsure the army can protect Christian areas against a possible Hizbullah attack. If the Lebanese army failed to protect Christian areas, he wanted to make sure that Washington was aware of the presence of "7,000 to 10,000 Lebanese Forces-trained fighters ready to move and fight against Hizbullah and requested the United States to support his fighters in order to obtain arms. Geagea stressed the significance of supporting the then-Army Commander General Michel Suleiman and the Siniora government against the Hizbullah-led opposition. Moreover, Geagea also proposed the idea of deploying Arab peacekeeping forces in Lebanon in order to confront Hizbullah. Geagea also proposed asking friendly Arab states to send troops to maintain peace in Lebanon and he suggested that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and other states supporting Lebanon be pressured to send troops. Geagea estimated that 5,000 Arab soldiers would be sufficient to maintain peace in Lebanon and back the Siniora government. Geagea said "Hizbullah will find itself in an impasse and victory will be achieved even if eventually it was decided not to send Arab forces."[25]

Corruption of Nabih Berri

A meeting between Siniora and then U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman, during which the former explained that he rejected the aid money from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait “because he didn’t want the money to go to Speaker Nabih Berri’s pocket given that the man is a thief.” Regarding the war, the premier said that the Israeli attacks are only strengthening Hezbollah and not weakening it.[26]

Lebanese Army's Incompetence

Nimrod Barkan, an Israeli official, during a meeting with U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman in Israel said that “The March 14 camp is brave, but it has been castrated.” Feltman focused on the need to support the Lebanese army against Hezbollah, to which Barkan lashed out at Feltman stating that it would be useless “because the LAF would never directly confront Hizbullah and it could eventually fall under its control.” Barkan called for a US-Saudi funded Sunni militia to be organized, Feltman considered that the idea was worth exploring.[26]

Iranian takeover of Lebanon

According to a cable published in the Israeli Haaretz quotes the Lebanese Telecommunications Minister, Marwan Hamadeh saying that ‘Iran Telecom is taking over the country!’ Hamadeh was referring to ‘the complete fiber optic system that Hezbollah had established throughout Lebanon’ which he claimed receives funding from Iran and signals ‘a strategic victory for Iran, since it creates an important Iranian outpost in Lebanon, bypassing Syria.’ ‘The value for Hizballah is the final step in creating a nation state. Hizballah now has an army and weapons; a television station; an education system; hospitals; social services; a financial system; and a telecommunications system’.[27]

Hezbollah is 'tumor'

According to the Arabic-language Al-Jumhuriya, Lebanon's prime minister-designate Najib Mikati describes Hezbollah, as a "tumour." He further said "tumor that must be removed", Mikati, argued "Lebanon could not survive with a Hezbollah mini-state." Regardless of his personal views on the group, Mikati said he was expecting Hezbollah to bring Lebanon to a 'sad ending." He assessed that Hezbollah was just like a tumour that, whether benign or malignant, must be removed.[28]

Iranian and Syrian conspiracy

Israeli Mossad Chief Meir Dagan urged caution with respect to Lebanon, noted that "It is necessary is finding the right way to support PM Siniora. He is a courageous man, Syria, Iran and Hizballah are working hard against him." Dagan noted that: "Hariri, Jumblat and others had their parents executed by the Syrians." This anti-Syrian sentiment has forged an alliance based on personal and national interests. Siniora has worked well with the situation, but Dagan suggested that the odds are against him.[29]

Libya

Uranium shipment

A Libyan shipment of enriched uranium to Ukrain,Russia, brokered by the U.S., was nearly the cause of an environmental disaster in Tripoli in 2009.[30]

Petro-Canada

Libya’s state oil company called in a senior Petro-Canada official with a threat to nationalize the firm’s operations in Libya if the Canadian government refused to apologize to the Libyan government. Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon had earlier promised a tongue-lashing for the hero’s welcome that Libya extended to a man convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. While the Libyan government did not follow through on its threat, it did issue an order on 30 September 2009 for Petro-Canada to cut production by 50 per cent.[31]

Morocco

Corruption

A cable from the U.S. embassy in Rabat to Washington, D.C. referred to allegations of deeply established corruption,[32] claiming that "corruption is prevalent at all levels of Moroccan society and the military is also plagued by it, particularly at the highest levels. This may partly reflect a grand bargain struck by King Hassan II following at least two nearly successful coups in the 1970s: remain loyal, and you can profit."[33] A former U.S. ambassador to Morocco[34] is quoted as "lamenting" about "the appalling greed of those close to King Mohammad VI".[35]

State institutions

Leaked cables from the U.S. consulate in Casablanca claim that the Moroccan Royal Family use state institutions to "coerce and solicit bribes in the real estate sector".[35] It is reported that decisions for the ONA Group, a Moroccan financial company, are made only by Moroccan King Mohammed VI and two associates.[32]

Palestine

It was noted in one cable that LeT purportedly raises funds for the Palestinian people in response to Israel's attacks on Gaza in Pakistan.[36]

Qatar

Al-Jazeera

Qatar is using the Arabic television news channel Al-Jazeera as a bargaining chip in negotiations with other countries. It is "one of Qatar's most valuable political and diplomatic tools".[37]

Financial support for Islamic militants abroad

Clinton said that Qatar along with Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Kuwait continue to fund terror.[38]

Diplomatic tendencies

Meir Dagan, the chief of Israel's spy agency Mossad, said that Qatar, poses "a real problem" as Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani tries to please all parties in the Middle East, including Syria, Iran and the Hamas.[39]

Qatar-U.S relations

The Qatari Prime Minister Hamad Bin Jassim Al Thani, repeatedly described the United States as a "friend" and called U.S.-Qatari relations "strategic."[40]

Syria

Arms shipments to Hezbollah

It was alleged that Syria increased arms shipments to Hezbollah despite its claims that new shipments had ceased.[41]

Tabloid incident

A Syrian foreign minister was alleged to have fallen for a "tabloid-like story" regarding the death of Princess Diana. An American ambassador stated that this displayed the Syrian government's "'stark ignorance' of the outside world".[42]

Assassination of Rafic Hariri

Omar Suleiman, Chief of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate, stated that Syria "desperately" wants the halt of the investigation about the assassination of Rafic Hariri, Prime Minister of Lebanon, in 2005.[43] Syria is suspected of involvement in that assassination and in the 2005 killings of anti-Syrian figures in neighbouring Lebanon.[44]

Tunisia

Corruption

The Economist referred to corruption in Tunisia, stating that "cables from Tunisia bluntly depict the regime of president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali as a sclerotic police state increasingly tarnished by nepotism"[34] and referring to a July 17, 2009 cable. The cable stated, "Corruption in the inner circle is growing."[45] Another from June 23, 2008 said "corruption in Tunisia is getting worse".[46][47] The New York Times suggested the cables about corruption were one of the reasons behind the overthrow of president Ben Ali in the 2010–2011 Tunisian protests.[48]

Political turmoil

According to Robert Godec, the U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia, Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, President of Tunisia, and his government have "lost touch with the Tunisian people."[45][49] Furthermore, they "tolerate no advice of criticism whether domestic or international."[45] Godec also reports that "[even] average Tunisians are now keenly aware of [corruption in the inner circle], and the chorus of complaints is rising. Tunisians intensely dislike, even hate, First Lady Leila Trabelsi and her family".[34][45]

Allegations of torture

The Canadian Ambassador to Tunisia, Bruno Picard, is reported in released documents to have insisted that Tunisia tortures prisoners who are suspected of terrorism and that he had first-hand evidence. The claim was made at a meeting about returning Tunisian prisoners to their home country from the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. Tunisia has insisted it does not practice torture, however Picard claimed this was "bullshit". Following the claims the U.S. Embassy held a meeting with the Canadian, British, French, German and Italian ambassadors to suggest they avoid accepting any Tunisian former prisoners from Guantanamo.[50]

Sakher al-Materi

The Economist stated, 'In a chatty account of a lavish dinner at the beachside villa of the Tunisian president's son-in-law, the American ambassador marvels at desserts flown in from St Tropez, the multitude of servants, and a pet tiger that ate four chickens a day. The host may be interested to know that while bragging about his clout he struck his guest [the US ambassador] as "demanding, vain and difficult", with a limited knowledge of or interest in world affairs.'[34]

Yemen

Attacks on Al-Qaeda bases in Yemen

Ali Abdullah Saleh, President of Yemen, said if the U.S. attacks Al-Qaida bases in Yemen, he will tell the people of Yemen that it was the Yemeni military that has carried out the attacks rather than the U.S. He asserted that "we'll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours" in a meeting with General David Petraeus, then-head of U.S. Central Command. Yemen's Deputy Prime Minister for Defense and Security Affairs, Rashad Mohammed al-Alimi, also joked about lying to Yemen's Parliament on U.S. involvement of bombings.[51][52]

Security of radioactive stockpiles

A January 2010 cable from Sana'a warned of concerns about the security of Yemen's main National Atomic Energy Commission (Yemen) (NAEC) storage facility,[53] which "normally contains IAEA Category I and II amounts of iridium and cobalt-60".[54] The cable stated, "The lone security guard standing watch at Yemen's main radioactive materials storage facility was removed from his post on December 30, 2009" and "The only closed-circuit television security camera monitoring the facility broke six months ago and was never fixed."[54]

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