Iran News ...


12/05/10

Arabs, Iran and Wikileaks

By Mohammad Khajouei, Middle East Studies Expert (source: Iran Review)

"September 11 revisited," "intrigue," "tragedy," and "transparency" were common terms used to describe a single event: publication of secret documents by Wikileaks website.

Last week and for the third time in the past few months, the website released thousands of mostly secret documents the majority of which revealed internal communications and correspondence of the US foreign policy apparatus.

Unlike past events, when Wikileaks published documents on the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq, this time, revelations cover a wide range of issues and have involved a greater number of countries and politicians who have had to show different reactions to those documents: from total anger and denial to admiration and, of course, disregard.

Although about 250,000 documents have been released in the latest bout, but the mass media have focused on a few which contain noteworthy news.

Some of those documents reflect calls from leaders of four regional Arab states, topped by the Saudi Arabia, who had asked the United States to attack Iran. The request has hit the first headlines in most Arab newspapers since Sunday and many reports and commentaries have been published in this regard.

Analysts have been as discordant about content of the leaked documents as politicians who have reacted at an official capacity. Arab analysts and journalists have frequently reflected on anti-Iranian positions of some Arab leaders and their analyses mostly revolved around four major axes as follows.

1. Criticism of Arab leaders

Some Arab journalists and analysts have largely focused on that part of the documents where Arab leaders have been urging Washington to attack Iran's nuclear installations and have taken them to task for that request.

They have mentioned blind obedience with the US policies on Iran and the risk of heightened tension between Iran and Arab countries as the main reasons behind their criticism.

Abdolbari Atwan, editor in chief of Al-Qods Al-Arabi maintains that it was understandable in 1990 for the Saudi government to draft half a million soldiers to repel Iraqi aggression on Kuwait. He, however, has expressed doubt that the Saudi government would encourage a military attack on a Muslim country that is pursuing to achieve nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

The journalist has wondered if the Saudi monarch has ever thought about possible consequences of an attack on Iran, whose most important consequence would be a regional war as well as possible missile attacks on Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states by Iran. He has also pointed to possible breakout of sectarian conflicts between Shias and Sunnis or Persians and Arabs.

Atwan has noted that the United States is trying to get Arab countries involved in its warmongering efforts to cause instability in the region.

He then asked the Saudi government to explain about the documents in order to nip a possible sedition in the bud because their content is too dangerous to be taken lightly.

2. Arabs distrust in the United States

Many Arab analysts maintain that the leak of secret negotiations among Arab politicians and leaders has made them greatly concerned and has caused them to lose trust in the United States security system as well as State Department. They may also become more cautious as to expression of their viewpoints in any further secret meeting.

Riyaz Qahwaji, director of the Middle East and Persian Gulf Institute for military affairs has also noted that Wikileaks documents will sow discord between the United States and its regional allies because Washington's ability to protect top secret documents has been doubted by regional countries. The Americans have proven that they are unable to protect secret documents related to their meetings with their regional allies.

He added that officials of regional countries are sure to consider more reservations for negotiations with the American statesmen and concluded that trust between the Persian Gulf Arab states and the United States has plummeted to a minimum.

3. Revelation of secret intentions

Revelations about secret attitudes of some Arab leaders toward Iran in Wikileaks documents has caused another group of analysts to discuss this issue from a purely neutral angle and reach the conclusion that the revelations are telltale of long concealed viewpoints which are now in the open to eliminate any chance of détente with Tehran.

Khaled Al-Dakhil, an analyst of political issues, has noted that such correspondence will lead to profound distrust between Iran, on the one hand, and Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf Arab countries, on the other hand. "I don't think that Iran will care for public anti-war positions taken by officials in the Persian Gulf littoral states anymore just in the same way that Arab leaders have frequently noted that they could not believe in the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program."

Sami Al-Faraj, head of Kuwaiti Center for Strategic Studies, has also opined that the revelations prove that the focus of Arab countries on Iran is powerful enough to make them call for outright military confrontation with the country.

4. Wikileaks has nothing new

A group of Arab journalists and analysts maintain that there is nothing new in Wikileaks documents, especially the part on Arab leaders'

viewpoints because those views have been more or less expressed using different literature. In other words, such analysts maintain that relations between Arabs and Iran have been regularly tense which make such remarks quite possible.

Tariq al-Hamid, a senior analyst for Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, has noted that some people go to lengths about accuracy of leaked documents, while there is nothing new in them.

He noted that the region does not need documents which depict Iran as the main source of regional concerns because Tehran is well aware of distrust it has caused among regional countries.

Conclusion

It is still difficult to reach a precise conclusion on the goals, reasons and the process through which Wikileaks documents have gone public. The confusion in various countries' stances on the documents as well as in relevant analyses proves this beyond any doubt.

They say, "High fever abates soon." Most analysts maintain that the sizzle over the leaked documents will be outworn soon as everybody comes to believe that the documents are neither a surprise, nor unbelievable. The world of politics, especially private politics, is riddled with such remarks and viewpoints.

Therefore, the remarks attributed to certain Arab leaders should not be taken very seriously. Most of them are simple viewpoints, rather than decisions and everybody knows that there is a long way between words and actions. There is no limit for words, but there are many red lines as well as tens and sometimes, hundreds of factors involved when it comes to actions. Under those conditions, even the most outspoken politicians turn out to be the most conservative of all.

Arab leaders should be reminded that intervention by foreign forces in political and security matters of the Middle East region are much more dangerous to regional countries than the role of a regional player like Iran which considers security of neighboring countries as its own security.

As time goes by, more complicated aspects of this event will be unraveled and, perhaps, another website would soon expose top secret documents on the very nature of Wikileaks itself!

About Iran Review: Iran Review (www.iranreview.org) is the leading independent, non-governmental and non-partisan website - organization representing scientific and professional approaches towards Iran's political, economic, social, religious, and cultural affairs, its foreign policy, and regional and international issues within the framework of analysis and articles.

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