US diplomats have cast doubts on the reliabilty of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan as a partner and portrayed Turkey's leadership as divided and permeated by Islamists, according to the German Der Spiegel magazine's website, citing leaked Wikileaks documents that were released Sunday night.
According to a report of the more than 250,000
cables leaked by WikiLeaks, Erdogan was described as having "little understanding of politics beyond Ankara," Der Spiegel said.
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Erdogan had surrounded himself with an "iron ring of sycophantic (but contemptuous) advisers," the leaked cable suggested.
The leaked cables also showed that key Arab states, foremost among them Saudi Arabia, that have publicly
sitting on their hands regarding Iran’s nuclear march have privately
exhorting the US to military action.
According to a report that appeared on The
Guardian’s website, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah
asked the US repeatedly to attack Iran and destroy its nuclear program,
2008 the monarchy’s envoy to Washington told US Gen. David Petraeus to
“cut off the head of the snake.”
The Guardian noted that the Saudi king
was recorded as having “frequently exhorted the US to attack Iran to put an end
to its nuclear weapons program,” one cable stated.
And Saudi Arabia was
not alone. According to the Guardian report, “officials in Jordan and Bahrain
have openly called for Iran’s nuclear program to be stopped by any means,
Likewise, leaders in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab
Emirates and Egypt referred to Iran as “evil,” an “existential threat” and a
power that “is going to take us to war,” the paper reported.
The cache of
more than 250,000 diplomatic cables, many of them characterized as “secret,” was
made available in advance to five newspapers – London’s The Guardian
, The New
, Germany’s Der Spiegel
, France’s Le Monde
and Spain’s El País
began excerpting from them on Sunday night.
Before publication of the
documents began, one Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post
that there was
concern in neighboring countries that their public declarations would be shown
to have been greatly at odds with what was said in private
Israeli officials have said for years that the way Arab
leaders talk in private is significantly different than what they say in public,
a dissonance that became evident with the first revelations of what was in the
documents.Netanyahu: US did not brief us on documents specifically
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu cryptically alluded to this
during a press conference on Sunday while observing work on a security barrier
along the Egyptian border.
“We did not get any specific briefing [from
the Americans] regarding these things,” Netanyahu said of the WikiLeaks
documents. “It is accepted in these reports [cables] that there is a gap between
what people say privately, and what is said publicly. The difference is that in
Israel, the gaps are not that great, but in a number of states in the region,
the gaps are very, very big.”
Israel had no official reaction to the
leaks on Sunday night.
While Israel was not, as Netanyahu rightly
predicted, the center of attention, there were a number of cables that related
to Israel and Israel-related issues.
• Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, who stepped
down as head of the IDF’s Military Intelligence last week, said in a meeting in
with US Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Florida) that Israel was not in a position to
underestimate Iran and be surprised like the United States was on 9/11.
Mossad director Meir Dagan told Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns in 2007
that Israel and the United States need to do more to create regime change in
• Dagan also told Frances Fragos Townsend, assistant to the US
president for homeland security and counterterrorism, in the summer of 2007 that
IDF operations against Hamas in the West Bank were preventing the terrorist
group from taking over the Fatah-controlled territory, according to a cable from
the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to the State Department.
• According to
another cable sent from the embassy in Tel Aviv, Barak revealed to a
congressional delegation in 2009 that Israel tried to coordinate Operation Cast
Lead with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President
• Iran used the cover of the Iranian Red Crescent to
smuggle intelligence agents and missiles into Lebanon during the Second Lebanon
War in 2006, according to a cable from 2008 that originated in Dubai and was
based on a meeting between a US diplomat and an unnamed source.Washington: Leaks can deeply impact foreign policy interests
House, meanwhile, issued a statement saying that “field reporting to Washington
is candid and often incomplete information. It is not an expression of policy,
nor does it always shape final policy decisions.”
statement said, “these cables could compromise private discussions with foreign
governments and opposition leaders, and when the substance of private
conversations is printed on the front pages of newspapers across the world, it
can deeply impact not only US foreign policy interests, but those of our allies
and friends around the world.”
The statement added that “President Obama
supports responsible, accountable, and open government at home and around the
world, but this reckless and dangerous action runs counter to that goal. By
releasing stolen and classified documents, Wikileaks has put at risk not only
the cause of human rights, but also the lives and work of these individuals. We
condemn in the strongest terms the unauthorized disclosure of classified
documents and sensitive national security information.”
Among the other
disclosures that were reported on The New York Times
• 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.’”
• Gaming out an eventual
collapse of North Korea: American and South Korean officials have discussed the
prospects for a unified Korea, should the North’s economic troubles and
political transition lead the state to implode. The South Koreans even
considered commercial inducements to China, according to the American ambassador
She told Washington in February that South Korean officials
believe that the right business deals would “help salve” China’s “concerns about
living with a reunified Korea” that is in a “benign alliance” with the United
• Bargaining to empty the Guantánamo Bay prison: When American
diplomats pressed other countries to resettle detainees, they became reluctant
players in a State Department version of Let’s Make a Deal.
told to take a prisoner if it wanted to meet with President Barack Obama, while
the island nation of Kiribati was offered incentives worth millions of dollars
to take in a group of detainees, cables from diplomats recounted.
Americans, meanwhile, suggested that accepting more prisoners would be “a
low-cost way for Belgium to attain prominence in Europe.”
• Suspicions of
corruption in the Afghan government: When Afghanistan’s vice president visited
the United Arab Emirates last year, local authorities working with the US Drug
Enforcement Administration discovered that he was carrying $52 million in
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.)
global computer hacking effort: China’s Politburo directed the intrusion into
Google’s computer systems in that country, a Chinese contact told the American
Embassy in Beijing in January, one cable reported.
The Google hacking was
part of a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government
operatives, private security experts and Internet outlaws recruited by the
Chinese government. They have broken into American government computers and
those of Western allies, the Dalai Lama and American businesses since 2002,
• Mixed records against terrorism: Saudi donors remain the
chief financiers of Sunni terrorist groups like al-Qaida, and the 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
US and provoking reprisals,” the cable said.
• An intriguing alliance:
American diplomats in Rome reported in 2009 on what their Italian contacts
described as an extraordinarily close relationship between Vladimir V. Putin,
the Russian prime minister, and Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister
and business magnate, including “lavish gifts,” lucrative energy contracts and a
“shadowy” Russian-speaking Italian go-between. They wrote that Berlusconi
“appears increasingly to be the mouthpiece of Putin” in Europe.
diplomats also noted that while Putin enjoys supremacy over all other public
figures in Russia, he is undermined by an unmanageable bureaucracy that often
ignores his edicts.
Among the leaked documents were dispatches that
disclosed US nicknames for a number of world leaders.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was referred to as “Hitler,” French President Nicolas
Sarkozy as a “naked emperor,” the German chancellor was called Angela “Teflon”
Merkel and Afghan President Hamid Karzai as “driven by paranoia.”
was referred to as “Alpha Male,” while Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is
The documents also say that North Korean leader Kim
Jong Il suffers from epilepsy, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s full-time nurse
is a “hot blond,” and Berlusconi loves “wild parties.”
The article also
quotes the State Department as saying that Obama “prefers to look East rather
than West,” and “has no feelings for Europe.”
“The US sees the world as a
conflict between two superpowers,” the diplomatic cables say. “The European
Union plays a secondary role.”Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this