WikiLeaks in Arab World

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    WikiLeaks in Arab world!

    The outing of some 92,000 secret military documents by WikiLeaks has not only put Washington in

    the dock and rattled the US military machine over its conduct in combat; it has sent shock waves

    through world capitals.

    The unprecedented leak the organisation released the files to one leading newspaper each in the

    US, the UK and Germany, besides posting them on their website of such a huge amount of

    confidential data, quite naturally, has sent the Pentagon scrambling into damage control mode,

    investigating how that happened and how to minimise its impact not only on US military efforts in

    Afghanistan but also on US national security.

    Speculation about the why and how of the leak is rife.

    One speculation sees it as part of the Democratic Partys manoeuvring to garner support for early

    withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and finally end the longest war in US history. Another

    sees in it the Republican Partys efforts to project the Democrats as incapable of handling the

    issues of US national security and the war in Afghanistan.

    Some find the sudden change of the commander of US forces in Afghanistan prompting the leak

    while others see a strengthened Al Qaeda paying people with access to confidential information in

    order to create a wedge between the US and Pakistan. Yet others see groups within the US

    government upset with Obamas policies playing their hand to discredit his administration.

    Be it as it may, the point we would like to raise is: If the documents contain information about US

    forces committing war crimes in Afghanistan, as they likely do, will the International Criminal

    Court (ICC) use the data to start proceedings against the US for war crimes in Afghanistan?

    The ICC should be fair in pursuing countries or people who commit war crimes and not

    concentrate just on people like Sudans President Omar Hassan Al Bashir and Iraqs Saddam

    Hussein.

    Unfortunately, we see the world media likely focusing on who leaked the documents and how it

    happened and not on what the document contain, like it happened in the case of the leakedphotos and documents of atrocities in Abu Ghraib prison and the Israeli war on Gaza.

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    Bahrains King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa didnt mince his words in a November 2009 cable to

    Washington on what should be done about Iran's nuclear programme. According to a cable

    released by WikiLeaks, Hamad said:

    That programme must be stopped. The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of

    stopping it.

    Its a view echoed by Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Armed Forces Emirates

    Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. In a July 2009 memo to the US government, he described Iranian

    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as Hitler, and urged the United States not to appease Iran.

    And theres plenty more where that came from. Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King

    Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, asked the United States to strike Irans nuclear programme

    and to cut off the head of the snake. Another memo showed Qatar had agreed to allow the

    United States to use a base on Qatari soil to bomb Iran.

    These revelations are highly embarrassing for Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President

    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, underscoring as they do the intense level of hostility and mistrust Irans

    neighbours feel about its nuclear programme.

    But what should particularly concern Iran's leadership is the statement from the Emir of Qatar. On

    numerous occasions, Iran's leaders have openly stated that theyd be willing to attack any

    neighbouring country that allows its territory to be used by foreign forces to stage an attack

    against Iran. By telling the United States that hes willing to allow his territory to be used as a

    launch pad for a strike, the Emir of Qatar is effectively saying that hes so concerned about the

    prospects of a nuclear-armed Iran that hes prepared to risk massive Iranian retaliation against his

    country to stop it from happening.

    Whats particularly interesting about the WikiLeaksrevelations, though, isnt so much the

    enthusiasm that countries like Saudi Arabia demonstrated over a US-led attack on Irans nuclear

    facilities, but that they wanted the United States to decapitate the entire leadership of the regime.

    (Lebanon's Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri is also revealed to have stated to US officials in

    2006 that they should have invaded Iran instead of Iraq).

    Another important, related, point made clear by the cables is that the Obama administrations

    negotiations with Iran have broadened the regional consensus against Iran's nuclear programme,

    with the UAE and Bahrain having joined existing anti-nuclear Iran countries such as Saudi Arabia.

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    The Iranian government, for its part, has dismissed the recent revelations as 'psychological

    warfare.' Other analysts, meanwhile, have dismissed the WikiLeaks reports as part of the Western

    media's narrative of war with Iran. Some have also argued that the views of the leaders of Saudi

    Arabia and the UAE should be ignored as they are unelected.

    But the fact that the leaders of the UAE and Saudi Arabia arent elected should hardly be a source

    of comfortopposition forces in these countries include many Sunni extremists, who are even

    more anti-Iran and anti-Shiite than their governments. Indeed, these groups would in some cases

    be more than willing to take matters into their own hands, rather than simply urging the US to

    attack IranIran would be well-advised to work with its neighbours current leaders, because the

    alternatives could be much worse.

    All this means that anyone interested in finding a peaceful solution to the Iranian nuclear

    programme cant afford to dismiss the WikiLeaks reportsand the insights they offer into how

    desperate Irans neighbours have become.

    Its true that earlier this month, the outgoing head of the Mossad, Meir Dagan, said Iran wouldnt

    be able to acquire a nuclear bomb until 2015 at the earliest (revising a 2009 assessment, in which

    he told an Israeli parliamentary panel that Iran could have its first nuclear warhead by 2014).

    But the fact that the estimate for Iran to reach bomb-making capacity has been pushed back a

    year doesnt take the onus off of the Iranian government to cooperate with the West and the

    International Atomic Energy Agency. Tehran must alleviate concerns about the true nature of its

    nuclear programme and cease any military-related activities that are deemed unacceptable by the

    United Nations.

    If it can, it will find itself in a much better position to enjoy closer relations with its neighbours and

    in a position to tap nuclear technology to produce energy for its own citizens. But until it does,

    Iran's neighbours will view its nuclear programme as an unacceptable dangerregardless of

    whether they share their fears in WikiLeaked cables.