The diplomatic documents published by WikiLeaks Friday are only the first batch of what the group says will be a much larger release, but they've already provided an unusual level of insight into the day-to-day of Saudi diplomacy - giving a snapshot of the lavish spending habits of senior royals and the political intrigue percolating across the Middle East. Many of the scores of documents reviewed by AP appear aimed at keeping track of Iranian activity across the region or undermining Tehran's interests.
Iraq has become a hotbed of regional rivalries. Saudi Arabian enmity towards Maliki was spelled out in a 2007 WikiLeaks cable that reported Saudi King Abdullah describing the Iraqi prime minister as "an Iranian agent." Saudi Arabia, which regards Iran as a dangerous regional rival, has refused to set up an embassy in Baghdad and deliberately sought to exclude Iraq from regional bodies such as the Gulf Cooperation Council.
Saudi Arabia s King Abdullah told US diplomats that by toppling former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, the US had presented Iraq to Iran "on a golden platter." That assessment, recorded in a 2005 embassy cable released by WikiLeaks, was affirmed in the eyes of Saudi Arabia s Sunni Muslim rulers by the outbreak of sectarian squabbling that followed last week s departure of the last US troops from Iraq after almost nine years of occupation.
"Don't trust WikiLeaks," Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani told journalists recently while discussing confidential U.S. diplomatic cables published by the whistle-blower site. The leaks, he said, are "the observations of junior diplomats." But attempts by Gilani and others in Pakistan to downplay the significance of the WikiLeaks revelations belie the stir the WikiLeaks cables have raised.
Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, is ecstatic. He has come to the conclusion that a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, revealing that the Saudis privately favour a military strike on Iran, has vindicated Israel's hawkish stance. With Saudi Arabia aboard the war train, how can it possibly be derailed?
Saudi Arabia proposed an Arab army should be deployed in Lebanon, with US air and naval cover, to stop Hizbullah after it seized control of parts of Beirut in 2008, according to leaked US diplomatic cables released by whistleblower site .
Recently published Wikileaks documents expose the failure of President Obama's counter-terrorism policy. While reaffirming a 1,400 years old Muslim track record, the documents refute Obama's fundamental assumptions, which have shaped his counter-terrorism policy: that the Palestinian issue is a root cause of Middle East turbulence and anti-Western terrorism; that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are allies of the US; that there is no Islamic terrorism since Islam promotes peace and not terrorism; that there is no Jihadist terrorism since Jihad is a process which purifies the soul; that there is no global terrorism; that Islamic terrorists represent a Muslim minority which rejects modernity and that Islam has always been part of the American story.
In September 2009, the US Embassy in Baghdad summarised Iraqi perceptions of their neighbours in two cables. Only the first of the cables has been released, to my knowledge, but it was enough for coverage which set aside Turkey, Kuwait, and Syria for a dramatic comparison of the Saudis and Iranians: "Iraqi concerns [over Saudi Arabia]...represent a fundamental divergence from the American and British view of Iran as arch-predator in Iraq."
The December 2009 overview of terrorist financing, underpinning "a diplomatic engagement strategy" with other states to cut off funds, does note, "It has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority." However, the very next sentence declares, "Due in part to intense focus by the USG over the last several years, Saudi Arabia has begun to make important progress on this front and has responded to terrorist financing concerns raised by the United States through proactively investigating and detaining financial facilitators of concern."
Saudi Arabia is a key source of funds for armed groups, including al-Qaeda, the Afghan Taliban and Pakistan's Lashkar-e-Taiba, according to a leaked US state department assessment. In a series of diplomatic cables spanning several years, published by the WikiLeaks whistleblowing website on Sunday, the state department details how such groups continue to seek financing in Saudi Arabia, often posing as pilgrims visiting the Muslim holy sites.
Top U.S. officials have grown frustrated over the resistance of allies in the Middle East to help shut the financial pipeline of terrorists, the New York Times reported on Sunday, citing secret diplomatic dispatches. Internal State Department cables, obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to news organizations, indicate that millions of dollars are flowing to extremist groups, including Al-Qaida and the Taliban, despite U.S. vows to cut off such funding.