Analysis: Wikileaks vindicate, don’t damage, Israel

The US is clearly listening to what Middle Eastern leaders have to say about Iran - now what are they going to do about it?

By
November 28, 2010 23:54
3 minute read.
Founder and editor of the WikiLeaks website, Julian Assange.

wikileaks 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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Based on the trove of diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks on Sunday, the United States is clearly listening to and recording what Middle Eastern leaders have to say about Iran. The question left unanswered is what the US is willing to do about it.

For years now, top Israeli political and defense leaders have warned the world that a nuclear Iran is not just a threat to the Jewish state but is a threat to the entire region.

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“If only we could say publicly what we hear behind closed doors,” Israeli officials would comment, following off-record talks they held with Arab leaders throughout the Middle East.

Well, now they can. According to one cable published by WikiLeaks on Sunday, Saudi King Abdullah “frequently exhorted the US to attack Iran to put an end to its nuclear weapons program” and to cut off the head of the snake.

According to another cable, King Hamad of Bahrain, a country with a majority Shi’ite population, urged in a meeting with former CENTCOM commander Gen.

David Petraeus that action be taken to terminate Iran’s nuclear program.

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“That program must be stopped,” Hamad said, according to the cable. “The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it.”

Jordan, another country that voiced concern, is uncomfortable with the possibility that a nuclear Iran would provide an umbrella for opposition groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt is also challenged by Iran’s continued nuclear development, as shown by the conviction in April of 26 men who were spying for Hizbullah and plotting attacks in Egypt.

From an Israeli perspective, therefore, it would not be an exaggeration to say that WikiLeaks may have done the country a service on Sunday. By presenting the Arab leaders as more extreme in their remarks than Israeli leaders, the cables show the dissonance in the region and the danger involved in allowing Iran to continue with its nuclear program.

While there were some comments made by Mossad director Meir Dagan regarding leaders in the Middle East – the emir of Qatar is “annoying,” and the king of Morocco is not interested in governing – that are slightly embarrassing, Israeli politicians were spared the more embarrassing analyses of their personalities that French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi received.

The information revealed in the cables is vast and informative, providing an unprecedented insight into the way some of Israel’s top intelligence officials and politicians view the region and its challenges.

Dagan, for example, comes out looking much more than just the head of a spy agency, and according to the cables, is sought after by almost every senior US official visiting Israel. In one cable he met with a Homeland Security official, in another with the undersecretary of state. In another he met with officials from the Treasury Department and in another, Mossad officials met with US military officers.

In general and contrary to earlier predictions, the cables did not appear to contain information that could significantly harm Israeli national security.

Most Israeli officials, such as Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Dagan and Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen.

Amos Yadlin, appear to be careful in what they say in the meetings, which are clearly being documented by American aides in the room. In one cable, while Yadlin said that covert means needed to be used to stop Iran, he was quoted as refusing to elaborate.

At the end of the day, though, none of this has changed the state of affairs regarding global efforts to stop Iran. While the UN has ratcheted up sanctions and the US is threatening more and tougher ones, the Teheran regime is continuing to defy the international community and to enrich uranium, making it today just a jump away from creating a nuclear weapon whenever it wants.

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