Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Wikileaks and the Middle East

Assange: I've got the names of Arab officials spying on their own countries for the CIA
The Internets are buzzing about an interview Julian Assange gave to Al Jazeera's Arabic channel Wednesday, in which the WikiLeaks frontman reportedly threatened to release cables showing that various Arab officials were working with the CIA.
He vowed to do so "if I am killed or detained for a long time."
“These officials are spies for the U.S. in their countries,” Assange said, according to Qatar's Peninsula newspaper. More:
The interviewer, Ahmed Mansour, said at the start of the interview which was a continuation of last week’s interface, that Assange had even shown him the files that contained the names of some top Arab officials with alleged links with the CIA. [...]
Some Arab countries even have torture houses where Washington regularly sends ‘suspects’ for ‘interrogation and torture’, he said.
He then complained, "Washington is also projecting me as a terrorist and wants to convince the world that I am another Osama bin Laden."
Observers have long speculated about the massive "insurance" file that WikiLeaks posted on the Pirate Bay, which has by now been downloaded by thousand of people all over the world. Opening the file requires an encryption key that presumably would be released upon Assange's incarceration or untimely death. I guess it's the motherlode.
I have my doubts about these new claims, though. The CIA vigorously protects the identities of its sources, and would have no reason to let any old schmo at a U.S. embassy know their names. It is also highly doubtful that the cables would talk about "torture houses" -- the United States has always denied that it (knowingly) outsources rough treatment to foreign governments. Not everyone believes this, mind you, but I'd be surprised if any embassy cables said otherwise.
Maybe Assange and Mansour are confusing ordinary visits of Arab officials to U.S. diplomats with "spying," but it's hard to say for sure without seeing the cables themselves.

Assange: Many Arab Officials Work With CIA

Less than 2,000 of the purported 250,000 diplomatic cables in WikiLeaks possession have been made public. There has been plenty of speculation as to what's left, since the revelations thus far have been a broad mix of both gossipy and inflammatory information.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Al Jazeera network Wednesday that some of things he is holding back could be downright explosive, reports the Emptywheel website. Assange said:
"Top officials in several Arab countries have close links with the CIA, and many officials keep visiting US embassies in their respective countries voluntarily to establish links with this key US intelligence agency. These officials are spies for the U.S. in their countries."
The Qatar-based Peninsula newspaper reports that Assange also said the CIA-Arab officials link went deeper than just information-sharing.
Some Arab countries even have torture houses where Washington regularly sends "suspects" for "interrogation and torture," he said.
Assange hinted in the interview that he is letting the link between the CIA and Arab officials be known without naming any specific names in case his upcoming trial in Britain does not go his way, or, worse, should he be assassinated.
"If I am forced we could go to the extreme and expose each and every file that we have access to," Assange said, adding that there were 2,000 websites that were ready to publish the remaining files that are in possession of WikiLeaks after "he has been done away with."

"Oh Dear!" Thats the reaction I would expect in arab capitals over the coming days. Without a hint of doubt if Assange releases these documents, this is going to be explosive in this region and more disastrous for US policy in the Middle East. It will also be seen as proving what the islamic extremists/leftists say about Arab leaders: "They are nothing but puppets". Some GCC leaders will have their fingers and every part of their bodies crossed hoping that Assange doesn't release documents about leaders providing info to the CIA.

The US & GCC

This is certainly is not the first time explosive details regarding the GCC (or other allies) has been leaked to the press. One particular incident was the leak that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was given shelter in Qatar post 9/11 and was supported by a senior Qatari government Minister. See link for reference. 

I am sure many of you would have heard about the statements about personalities of certain senior leaders in the GCC. Suffice to say, these leaders will not be impressed. The leaders in the Gulf are extremely protocol concious, therefore these leaks will be seen as an insult and will in all probably create an air of animosity towards the US for a long period to come.

GCC views on regional countries

GCC leaders described Iraqi PM Nouri Al Maliki as an Iranian stooge, this will obviously impact relations with Iraq as the Maliki government is re-elected. Aside from security issues, this comes at a time when OPEC leaders need the cooperation of Iraq as it continues to grow its oil reserves and exports. The Kurdistan region of Iraq is expected to hold some of the world's largest oil reserves and it is particularly important for OPEC that Iraq will cooperate over the coming years. 

Iran and Qatar have become quite close recently despite the nuclear issue, they recently witnessed numerous agreements relating to defence and others. However the realities are that they are both competing to get as much Natural Gas out of the ground since they both share the worlds largest gas field (this war is being fought by seeing who can get the bigger number of rigs on their side). In the past Iranians have entered qatari waters in order to damage/vandalise Qatari offshore platforms. In response to this a Qatari Special Forces team were trained and set up for fast response.They are placed on constant alert for IRGC vessels entering Qatari waters.

Despite the positivity in public, the Qatari's described the relationship with Iran as "they lie to us and we lie to them". The Qatari military CoS Major Gen. Hamad Al Attiyah described the relationship as “neighbours not friends”.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called President Asif Ali Zardari the greatest obstacle to Pakistan’s progress and is further quoted as saying “when the head is rotten, it affects the whole body.”. KSA's relationship with Pakistan is unlikely to be affected because Pakistan knows that it requires Saudi financing and support in order to prevent bankruptcy (the nations very survival is at stake). Understandably, Zardari had no choice but to shrug off these statements in public.

Probably the only person to come out of these exposes better is the Sultan of Oman HM Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Read Muscat Confidential's post on this subject for further info.

There is much more that I left unsaid on this topic but I'm sure more comments will be made as wikileaks releases further diplomatic cables.

Have a Great New Year ALL!

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