The publication of secret documents on Wikileaks has been a great diplomatic shock to both the United States and other countries enjoying diplomatic relations with Washington. Apart from ambiguities surrounding release of so many documents, it seems that the current state of affairs will greatly change the more hidden aspects of international diplomacy. From now on, diplomats and political officials will speak more cautiously in private sessions because they are no longer sure about security of classified information.
The most important questions raised after publication of Wikileaks documents include:
1. What is the main reason(s) behind publication of such a huge volume of secret documents and information on the American diplomacy and US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan?
2. Have the American officials been unable to prevent the leak? Or is the US security system really so debilitated as to allow for simultaneous release of thousands of documents in a short time?
3. What effect will publication of this information and documents have on relations among countries and international relations on the whole?
4. What will be the situation of secret documents and private diplomacy of countries after publication of Wikileaks documents?
In reality, no solid answers have been thus far found to these questions and perhaps it would take months before the real impact of these documents on international relations would transpire.
The documents are too diverse and too numerous. Although the US diplomacy and its allies have been hit the hardest by the documents, no country can treat the leaked documents through a one-way approach due to the diversity of information provided in them.
The Israeli prime minister was, perhaps, the sole politician who tried to use the documents in his country's benefit by claiming that the content of documents showed beyond any doubt that concern about Iran's nuclear program was common to the whole Middle East. This issue is very important and should be taken onboard in any analysis of the documents.
A one-way, general approach will not be able to shed light on the hidden aspects of these documents, but the most trivial details should be also taken into account. For example, revelations about US talks with Syria prove that there is no contradiction between Damascus' covert and overt diplomacy on Iran and the Syrian officials have been honest with Tehran. The documents, however, reveal considerable contradiction between public and private positions taken by some Arab countries enjoying relations with Iran.
Some analysts maintain that Wikileaks documents actually reveal no secret because what they have brought into the limelight about content of secret negotiations among Arab leaders on Iran was quite expectable. It is also true that information in Wikileaks documents conform to the realities on the ground, which has made it difficult for the United States and other involved parties to deny them. In my opinion, however, conformity to realities does not reduce importance of those documents because it firstly makes it difficult to deny the truth of the leaked information. Secondly, it should be noted that documents on hidden aspects of diplomacy, even those which go public after many decades, are important sources of information for political analysts and researchers. These documents are related to ongoing affairs and will undoubtedly shed light on the hidden aspects of international relations and foreign policy workings. They will also leave undeniable marks on secret diplomacy of involved countries.
For example, Arab leaders who have secretly called on the United States to attack Iran can no more repeat their hypocritical remarks in further dealings with the Iranian officials. Some of these documents can provide the Iranian diplomatic apparatus with a good opportunity (provided that it is taken good advantage of in line with expert views) to prevent Arabs, who are in shame of their disclosed positions, to hold their past ground.
Let's not forget that Arab leaders who have asked for military attack on Iran are those who were once supporting Saddam in his invasion of Iran and have never regretted what they did. I think that lenience toward Arab states in the past few years has backfired and made them misunderstand Iran's real purpose. Therefore, Wikileaks documents should be taken advantage of as an opportunity to show red cards to Iran's southern neighbors who have regularly treated their big northern neighbor in a hypocritical manner.
The main blow, however, has been dealt to the US diplomatic apparatus and that of its regional allies. Therefore, countries like Iran who have no relations with Washington are relatively immune to their risks and should have no concern about their possible impacts. The Arab public opinion should be also taken into account. Mass media in Saudi Arabia and some other Arab countries have been comatose in past days in order to cover up the new diplomatic scandal involving their high-ranking politicians. More independent Arab media, however, have reflected consternation of the Arab public opinion over support of Arab leaders for a military attack on Iran and wonder why Arab leaders should foster a new regional war in support of the United States and Israel?
Interestingly, despite positions taken by some Arab leaders against Iran, who have called for the "head of the serpent" to be cut, recent polls in the Arab world whose results were published by the Guardian this week, have revealed that 88 percent of regional people consider Israel as the main source of threat. This fact reveals the wide credibility gap between the Arab public opinion and officials policies adopted by certain Arab states.
Although President Ahmadinejad has played down importance of the documents and their impact on Iran's relations with the Arab world, silence of the Arab states which, according to leaked documents have taken hostile positions on Iran, is quite meaningful. They are undoubtedly averse to their private talks going public and are not willing to assume responsibility for their hostile positions.
Certain evidence in the past pointed to possible negative stances of Arab leaders on Iran which were only voiced in their private negotiations with the American officials and some analyses were indicative of their support for tougher treatment of Iran. However, if they are not willing to assume responsibility for their hostile positions, they cannot also shun it by remaining silent.
The Iranian diplomatic apparatus should raise the expectation that Arab countries mentioned in the documents better make up for untoward impact of these revelations on diplomatic relations and public diplomacy and try to appease Iran as well as the public opinion in the Arab world.
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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