By Dr. Nayyer Ali

December 10 , 2010

The Middle East in Wikileaks

Last week a giant treasure trove of US diplomatic cables, most from the last few years, but some from the 1990’s and earlier, were released into the public domain by the website Wikileaks.  

Wikileaks is dedicated to publishing secret government information, and has become a phenomenon around the world.  A disaffected American soldier had somehow downloaded thousands of US diplomatic cables (confidential reports submitted by US diplomats to the State Department) and provided them to Wikileaks. These cables come from US embassies on every continent, but the ones from the Middle East are fascinating.
Iran’s nuclear program is causing fear not just in Israel, but also in the Arab states.  One report shows that Israel wants Iran stopped, but even more surprising is the cable detailing Saudi King Abdullah asking the US to attack Iran’s nuclear program.  This is deeply embarrassing for the Saudis, as it shows they are calling on a non-Muslim power to attack Muslim Iran.  What happened to the Ummah?  The Saudis loudly proclaim what devoted Muslims they are, and now they are asking for the US to attack a Muslim country? Perhaps the Saudis don’t consider the Shia Iranians to be real Muslims.  
Other cables reveal that the US does not think a military strike on Iran would do more than delaying their nuclear program by 1-3 years.  In Afghanistan, the documents show that there is in fact no evidence that Iran is supporting the Taliban with weapons, as has sometimes been alleged in public.
The Israeli position on Iran’s bomb is actually fascinating.  The Israelis are deeply concerned that a nuclear Iran would spell the slow death of Zionism, not its instant combustion.  It is not the fear that Iran would actually bomb Israel that concerns them, but what the fear of that bomb would do to average Israeli Jews.  There is deep concern that many Israeli Jews, especially the young and well-educated who would have good prospects in North America or Europe, would simply emigrate en masse rather than risk living with the ever-present possibility of a nuclear war with Iran. Israel’s demographic situation is already so tenuous that even the loss of one million young Jews would be devastating and a fatal blow likely to Zionism.  
The Egyptians also get the Wikileak treatment. Apparently Hosni Mubarak took great pleasure in telling Bush “I told you so” after the Iraq occupation went so bad.  Mubarak tried to convince the US to give up on Iraqi democracy and instead encourage a military coup, once the army had been built up.  So far, the US has declined that advice.  Mubarak has also been very prickly on the subject of Egyptian democracy, becoming apoplectic when Ayman Nour, the challenger to his Presidential re-election bid last time, who Mubarak harassed and threw in jail, is even mentioned.  
The Saudis, in addition to encouraging a US war with Iran, also apparently had a very low opinion of Asif Ali Zardari.  On that point I would concur with them, but not for the reason they cited.  The Saudi King claimed that it was Zardari’s fault that the militants in Pakistan were not being controlled.  Perhaps the Saudi King should look at who has funded, supported, encouraged, and indoctrinated those militants for the last 30 years.  I think the trail of that leads directly to Saudi Arabia.
The most important aspect of these documents is how totally mundane and predictable the cables were.  There was no deep dark complex American conspiracy controlling the world. US diplomats are constantly exasperated with recalcitrant and prickly allies with their own points of views, whether it is the Pakistanis refusing to cooperate on nuclear fuel disposal, or the Turks pursuing their own diplomacy with Iran and Syria.  

US diplomats are pretty much behind closed doors what we think they are doing.  Even with Iran, the pressure for war is not coming from the US, it is coming from Israel and Saudi Arabia.  If these leaks help people see how ludicrous conspiracy theories are, and how the world really is pretty much as its seems, then they will have done a great service in clearing out the cobwebs that distort the minds of many.


Deflating Japan

Bush’s Axis of Evil

Speaking to Non-Muslims

If Arafat Were Jinnah

The Shape of Things to Come

South Asia Expert Calls for Negotiations on Kashmir

Kashmir After the Cold War

Kashmir Quagmire: How It Started

Kashmir: Where We’ve Been

Make Way for the Euro

Will there Be a Muslim Palestine?

Careful, Careful

Our Growing Community

Pakistan’s Golden Opportunity

Musharraf’s Reform Plans

Pakistan’s Afghan Dilemma

Humanity on the Move

Strategies of America, Pakistan and Benazir

Winners and Losers

America’s Strategy Defang the Fundamentalists

The Noose Tightens

Pakistan in America

Musharraf’s Moment

A Sad Day for America, A Sad Day for Islam

Repeal the Blasphemy Law

Bush’s Stem Cell Compromise

The Depressing Stock Market

An Evening on Human Development

“Benazir” Takes Over in Indonesia

Race Riots in Britain

Global Warming or Just Hot Air?

Milosevic on Trial

Russia’s Collapse

Economic Recovery in Pakistan?

President Khatami’s Re-election

Lifting Sanctions on Pakistan

Israel’s Moral Burden

A Break in the Logjam?

The Second American Century

Pakistan’s Constitution

Dr. Lodhi in Los Angeles

Literacy: The Road Forward

Why Yusuf Can't Read

Literacy: The Glass is Half Full

Blowing Up Buddha

A Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Pakistan

Did You See the Moon?

Cornrows, Ali Khan, and Culture

Will the Children Go To Harvard?

Muslim Political Progress

Information Technology Gets A Boost

Sand and Oil

On Lieberman

Pakistan Builds A Tank

Kashmir in the Nuclear Age

Full Speed Ahead on Privatization

A Muslim France?

Too Much Food

Watching the Election Why Are We Hollywood’s Villains?

A Tyrant Falls

Taliban Victorious

The Walking Whale of Pakistan
The Joy of Air Travel?

The Amazing American Economy
Arafat and Jerusalem

Names For The Children

Population: Too Many or Too Few?

It Does Matter

Aziz Goes For Growth

The Military Government's First Budget

L'Affaire Salam

End Sanctions on Iraq

Third World Democracy

Light Weapons Trade on the Rise

Iran Reforms

Back to the Future

The Saudis and OPEC Mature

How Can We Help Pakistan Develop?

Report Card on Musharraf

IMF Vs Pakistan

A Candid Discussion on Foreign Policy Issues

A Sad Tale of Missed Opportunities

Cold War In Kashmir

Whither Afghanistan?

National Security and Literacy

Pakistan Votes

The People Win

What is an Islamist?

Selling the Crown Jewels

Still Not Government

One Year After the Taliban

Benazir's Folly

Iraq and Oil

Saddam and Iraq - I

Saddam and Iraq - 2

Muslim Democracy

Zakat and Capitalism

Zakat and Capitalism - 2

The Economy Picks Up

The American Military: Power without Limit?

Good Foreign Policy is Good Anti-Terrorism Policy

The Arrest of Khalid Shaikh Mohammad

Bush Takes a Gamble

Bush Attacks

Besieging Baghdad

Darkness in Saddam's Bunker

Piccadilly It Aint Qissa Khani Is Still Qissa Kahani

Ed Asner and Afghanistan's Progress

Bush Delivers a Roadmap

Liberation or Imperialism

The Roadmap

Economic Rebound

Musharraf in Los Angeles

Economic Growth will lead to Democracy

Trapped by Myths and Fantasies

The Surge in Karachi Stocks

Bush's Busted Budget

America's Broken Healthcare

Time to Buy Stocks?

Islam, the State, and Human Rights

30 Years after the Oil Shock

The Future of Oil Wealth

Pakistan, India and Human Development

Pakistan's Eid Present

Iraq, Democracy and Islam

The End of Saddam Hussein

Three Wins for Pakistan

The Islamabad Declaration

Kerry's Big Wins

Repeal Hudood and Blasphemy

Bush's Growing Vulnerability

What Has Aziz Done?

Bits and Pieces

The Growth of India

Chaos in Iraq

Bush Caves in to Sharon

Abuse at Abu Ghraib

Too Harsh, Musharraf

The BJP Loses

What Do the Jihadis Want?

The Pak Economy: Bigger than We Think

Is America Richer than Europe?

Prime Minister Aziz

Unbundling WAPDA

Musharraf's Uniform

Chess Game in Kashmir

Three States, Three Debates

What's Wrong with the Democrats?

Can Elections Bring Peace to Iraq?

Elections in Iraq

Can Generals Yield to Democrats?

IMF Give Pakistan an “A”

Improve Higher Education in Pakistan

A Framework for Reconciliation

Iraq’s Elections By

Privatizing Power

Bullish in Karachi

Palestinians Should Abandon Suicide Bombings

The F-16’s

Bush’s Social Security Plan

Growth and Investment

Patronage Versus Policy

Aziz, the PML, and 2007

Are We Running out of Oil?

Purchasing Power

Economic Progress

Social Progress

PTCL and the Privatization Roller-coaster

Bombing in Britain

The Ummah is Not a Tribe

Is the US Oppressing the Muslims?

Is Iraq Dissolving?

Sharon Retreats

Pakistan and Israel

The Earthquake

The Other Earthquakes

The Battle for the Supreme Court

Pakistan’s Physician Exports

Beginning of the End in Palestine

Intelligent Design and Other Religious Beliefs

Shifting Populations in South Asia

Sharon’s Stroke

Building Dams

Hamas in Charge

Free Elections in 2007

Muslim Perspectives on Zionism

Iraq Falls Apart

Big Successes in Privatization

Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions

Global Warming

Dennis Ross on the Middle East

What Makes an Islamic State?

The Iraq War

Strong Growth, Falling Poverty

Buffett and His Billions

Why Peace Is Elusive in the Middle East

How Poor is Poor?

How Poor is Poor?
Pakistan’s Growth Moment

Declare a Palestinian State

The London Bomb Plot

Who Won the Lebanon War?

Iran, Israel, and the Bomb

The Pope’s Speech

Democrats Win!

The Republicans Lick Their Wounds

Finally, Some Enlightened Moderation

The Error in the War on Terror

Economic Challenges for Pakistan

Reshaping the Middle East - Part 1

Reshaping the Middle East - Part Two

The Surge to Defeat

Whither Palestinians?

Pakistan and Afghanistan

Blind to the Future?

Musharraf Goes Too Far

Letter from Lahore

Can Musharraf Escape His Own Trap?

Will Healthcare Swallow the Economy?

Israel’s Surprise Offer

The Economy Surges Again

Al Gore Should Run

Pakistan’s Arms Industry

Any Exit from Iraq?

Deal, No Deal, or Many Deals

Nawaz Comes and Goes

Will Musharraf Wriggle Through?

Can We Stop Global Warming?

Bush’s Sputtering “War on Terror” Loses Again

Mental Health at Guantanamo Bay

What a Mess!

Will Musharraf’s Errors Prove Fatal?

How About Some Good News?

Anyone but Nawaz

China, India, and Pakistan: Whose Citizens Live Best?

Electing the Next President

Benazir’s Tragedy

Pakistan Election

Democracy and Pakistan

False Hopes in Palestine

Dinner with Shaukat Aziz

How Real Were Aziz’s Reforms?

The State of Pakistan

A Real Debate on Iraq

Stop Negotiating

Severe Challenges Face Pakistan’s Economy

Mindless Obsession with Musharraf

After Musharraf, More Musharraf?

Can Obama Do It?

Pakistan’s Poverty Profile

Economic Crisis in Pakistan

Can Obama Beat McCain?

Was the Aziz Boom a Mirage?

Pakistan’s Presidency

The Failed Presidency of George W. Bush

McCain Is Not Finished

The Economic Meltdown

A Year after the Annapolis Peace Conference

The Significance of Obama’s Win

Pakistan’s Economic Challenge

New Finds in Qur’anic History

The Assault on Gaza

Is a Trillion Dollar Stimulus Really Needed?

Bush’s Economic Legacy

How Big a Problem is Global Warming?

The Collapse of Oil Prices

Barack and the Banks

Pakistan Surrenders to the Taliban

The Collapse of the Republicans

Will Debt Defeat Obama?

Will Debt Defeat Obama?

The Torture Debate

Israel and Iran: Tyrants Cling to Power

Healthcare Reform

Is Israel Held to A Higher Standard?

Pak Economy Needs Growth

How to Really Control Health Care Costs

Do Not Attack Iran

Obama Confronts Failure in Afghanistan

Why Does the Islamic World Under-perform?

Final Chance for Palestine?

What Killed the Pak Economy in 2008?

Should Obama Fight Global Warming?

Obama’s Good Start

The Twisted Logic of the Extremists

Should France Ban the Burqa?

Slow Progress in Pakistan

Palestinians Resume Negotiations

The Farce of Islamic Creationism

Obama’s Secret Plan to Raise Taxes

Democratic Steps in Pakistan

Faisal Shahzad and the Taliban

Can Obama Win in Afghanistan?

The Meaning of Israeli Piracy

Annual Economic Survey of Pakistan

Nostalgia for Musharraf

No Good Choices for Netanyahu

The Attacks on Islam

The Trends in American Politics

Immigration Reshaping US and Europe

Pointless Peace Talks with Netanyahu

Another Episode of Military Rule?

Pakistan ’s Misguided Afghan Strategy

Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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