I haven’t had time yet to look through any of the confidential diplomatic cables that WikiLeaks unleashed onto the Internet today. (Considering my finals schedule, i don’t see myself having much time to peruse until, oh, Dec. 17, about 5 p.m.) But the gist of the story as reported by my most-trusted media is that there documents were incredibly revealing when it comes to the way the United States maintains relationships abroad and, of primary interest to readers of this blog, the details contained therein could be very harmful to diplomatic relations in the Muslim world.
Here’s what the Wall Street Journal had to say:
Among activities detailed in the documents was the extensive, and increasingly successful, push by the U.S. for an international consensus to confront Iran’s nuclear program. Five newspapers obtained early access to the documents, which had been gathered by the website WikiLeaks.
The cables showed how some Arab leaders were largely in sync with Israel to support greater financial penalties, if not military operations, against Iran unless it abandons its nuclear ambitions. Regarding Iran, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah was portrayed in an April 2008 memo as having told the U.S. “to cut off the head of the snake.”
The cables showed the Obama administration working to get skeptical European states to back more-biting sanctions against Tehran, and also working to forestall United Nations vetoes of the effort by China and Russia.
Read the rest of that here. The New York Times, which was one of the five papers that agreed to WikiLeaks conditions (I imagine not much more than a typical embargo) and received prior viewing of the cables, promises that in coming days it will provide a lot, lot more depth to some of the most explosive revelations. Here’s a few:
* A dangerous standoff with Pakistan over nuclear fuel: Since 2007, the United States has mounted a highly secret effort, so far unsuccessful, to remove from a Pakistani research reactor highly enriched uranium that American officials fear could be diverted for use in an illicit nuclear device. In May 2009, Ambassador Anne W. Patterson reported that Pakistan was refusing to schedule a visit by American technical experts because, as a Pakistani official said, “if the local media got word of the fuel removal, ‘they certainly would portray it as the United States taking Pakistan’s nuclear weapons,’ he argued.”
* Suspicions of corruption in the Afghan government: When Afghanistan’s vice president visited the United Arab Emirates last year, local authorities working with the Drug Enforcement Administration discovered that he was carrying $52 million in cash. With wry understatement, a cable from the American Embassy in Kabul called the money “a significant amount” that the official, Ahmed Zia Massoud, “was ultimately allowed to keep without revealing the money’s origin or destination.” (Mr. Massoud denies taking any money out of Afghanistan.)
* Mixed records against terrorism: Saudi donors remain the chief financiers of Sunni militant groups like Al Qaeda, and the tiny Persian Gulf state of Qatar, a generous host to the American military for years, was the “worst in the region” in counterterrorism efforts, according to a State Department cable last December. Qatar’s security service was “hesitant to act against known terrorists out of concern for appearing to be aligned with the U.S. and provoking reprisals,” the cable said.
What did the diplomatic cables reveal about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? William Daroff pointed me to this story from The Investigative Project on Terrorism:
The Israeli government asked the Palestinian Authority if it would take control of the Gaza Strip in the lead-up to Operation Cast Lead. Hamas will accept a negotiated peace based upon the 1967 borders, although not publicly. And the U.S. government is seeking information on foreign funding of terrorism—in particular from Venezuela and Turkey.
YNet highlights some other details here. What else are people seeing?