Obama and company have been insisting, with enormous perversity, that “peace” between Israel and the PA was necessary in order to make the “moderate” Arab states happy, and that until these states were satisfied, they would not cooperate with the West. Thus, went the president’s rationale, the onus was on us to make that “peace,” as much depended upon it. If Israel got burned in the process, well, it would be for the greater good.
I have been maintaining that just the opposite was the case — that, in point of fact, those Arab states were sorely irked by the US because of its weak stance. And I was hardly the only one to have been saying this: we heard it from analysts such as Jonathan Spyer and Barry Rubin, both of BESA.
And now — enter www.Wikileaks.org — we see the reality beneath the US hype. WikiLeaks is a website self-identified as a “media organization” whose goal “is to bring important news and information to the public. We provide an innovative, secure and anonymous way for sources to leak information to our journalists (our electronic drop box). One of our most important activities is to publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth.”
This “media organization” has the potential to do great damage in those instances in which diplomacy legitimately must be conducted outside the glare of public attention. I do not pretend to be altogether comfortable with its goals or its methods.
But in the instance at hand, WikiLeaks has released a huge cache of information that has the potential to be very enlightening and helpful indeed.
What has now been released by WikiLeaks are some 250,000 US State Department diplomatic cables — the largest diplomatic leak in history — that were made available first to five newspapers:The Guardian (London), The New York Times, Der Spiegel (Germany), Le Monde (France), and El Pais (Spain). They began releasing excerpts last night.
In the days leading up to the posting of the leaks, the US was busy informing allies that secret matters were about to become public, and that they [the allies] might be embarrassed. But it is the US itself that should be most embarrassed by what has been leaked.
In a nutshell, Saudi Arabia in particular, as well as other Arab states — notably Gulf states such as Bahrain and the UAE, and Jordan and Egypt — have been expressing alarm about Iran and secretly lobbying the US to get tough.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who is crown prince of the United Arab Emirates and deputy commander of its armed forces, is on record as having referred to Iran as an “existential threat” and suggesting that the US send in ground forces to “take out” Iranian nuclear targets, should air strikes alone proved inadequate. He is cited as saying that, “Iran [is] a huge problem that goes far beyond nuclear capabilities….Iranian support for terrorism is broader than just Hamas and Hezbollah. Iran has influence in Afghanistan, Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrain, the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia and Africa.”
Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz, king of Saudi Arabia, is quoted as having told Manouchehr Mottaki, Iran’s foreign minister, “You as Persians have no business meddling in Arab matters.” He then declared, when addressing someone else, “May God prevent us from falling victim to their [Iranian] evil. We have had correct relations over the years, but the bottom line is that they cannot be trusted.”
While the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, in reporting on a meeting King Abdullah had with U.S. Gen. David Petraeus in back in April 2008, explained, “He told you [Americans] to cut off the head of the snake.”
The picture is clear.
A number of things follow from this exposure. It certainly vindicates our stand on Iran. Too often Israeli leaders have been accused of being too “alarmist” with regard to Iran, and using this issue to deflect from lack of progress on the “peace process.”
At a press conference in Tel Aviv today, Netanyahu said:
“The greatest threat to peace is the Iranian regime’s arming race, and what is most important is that many leaders and governments in the Middle East realize this threat. There is a gap between what is said publicly and what is said behind closed doors.
“Leaders realize there is a new threat and a new understanding. I don’t remember [that] there was such understanding in the Middle East [previously]. I hope leaders will have the courage to tell their people what they said about Iran [privately].”
Our prime minister said that if these leaks will have the effect of inhibiting honest diplomatic talk in private (out of fear of later exposure), then there will be a real problem. “But if the leaders make the statements publicly there will be a significant change. When leaders are willing to tell their people the truth it promotes peace.”
Unfortunately, already Arab states — with Jordan leading the way — are beginning to deny they ever called for tough action against Iran. The motivating factor here, plain and simple, is fear. If Iran dominates in the area, it is unwise to be on the wrong side of the Iranian regime. How different it would be if the US were demonstrating deterrence power.
At least in theory (I am mindful of the difference between theory and what actually happens), these leaks should take some of the pressure off of us with regard to the “necessity” for us to strike a deal with the Palestinian Arabs to make Arabs states more cooperative or to bring peace to the whole region. At any rate, it will be harder for members of the Obama administration to continue to make the claims they have been making.
Obama’s motivation, as he ignored Arab pleas to take on Iran, is somewhat of a puzzlement. So often his actions and policies are interpreted in terms of his tilting towards Muslim nations. But here he has been disregarding the urgent pleas of those very Muslim nations with which he should be the most closely allied. We might talk about his belief (expressed in various contexts) that the US is merely one nation in the world community of nations — 245 in the world, 194 in the UN — from which he draws the corollary that the US should not flex its muscles. Or it may simply be that Obama hasn’t the fortitude, the inner strength or courage, to stand against an enemy. (Being tough with allies is something else.)
Will this public embarrassment motivate him to additional toughness with Iran before it’s too late? The 64 million dollar question.
Ahmadinejad has admitted publicly for the first time that the exceedingly complex Stuxnet cyberworm has done damage to Iran’s computers.
Iran’s enemies, he declared to reporters, “succeeded in creating problems for a limited number of our centrifuges with the software they had installed in electronic parts. They did a bad thing. Fortunately our experts discovered that and today they are not able (to do that) anymore.”
But Iran’s problems are not over, with regard to this.
In addition, according to a businessman who travels to Iran frequently and was cited by WikiLeaks, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has terminal cancer. His departure would be expected to shift the dynamic of power inside of Iran.
As to WikiLeaks revelations, Ahmadinejad says they are”psychological warfare,” part of a “satanic plot” to cause trouble between Iran and Arab states.
Yet another fascinating piece of information released by WikiLeaks: Before Operation Cast Lead — Israel’s military operation into Gaza at the end of 2008 and into January 2009 — Defense Minister Barak had approached both the Palestinian Authority and Egypt about taking over Gaza if Israel should defeat Hamas there. Both declined. Egypt’s reluctance to assume responsibility for Gaza does not surprise me. But the PA? Its leaders refer frequently to the illegal coup by means of which Hamas wrested control of Gaza, and to the need to re-establish PA control there. The US assessment was that the PA was weak (is everyone paying attention here?).
I will suggest something else: Perhaps the PA wishes to remain weak, and to utilize the tension with Hamas as a reason for not concluding a peace accord.
And the news on the “peace” front?
Yesterday I picked up my hard-copy of the JPost and read the headline — “Fatah declares: No to Israel as Jewish state.”
“Oh!” I thought to myself (I am not making this up), “I accidentally picked up an old edition of the paper.” Then I checked the date and saw that it was the current edition.
This is news? Bold headline news? Perhaps it was fancied to be such because this time it was Fatah saying it, and not the PA or the PLO. As if there is truly a difference. Perhaps it’s news because there is nothing else to say. For me it’s rather ho hum.
What Fatah actually said was no to Israel as a Jewish state, no to interim borders, no to land swaps (i.e., Israel maintaining communities beyond the Green Line and giving the PLO land inside the Green Line).
Now, as we read a bit further, we find that the Fatah Revolutionary Council statement said that it “renews its refusal for the establishment of any racist state based on religion…” This is the same Fatah that looks to Mahmoud Abbas as its leader, Mahmoud Abbas who has declared he would have no Jews in his Palestinian state. It’s a joke.
An Israeli government official responded with: “I would ask the Palestinians the following question: If the Jewish state is fundamentally illegitimate in your eyes, what sort of peace are you offering us?”
A rhetorical question.
And speaking of PA president Mahmoud Abbas… He has just officially designated the Alashekeen Band as a Palestinian national band.
This group performs on PA-TV. See here, courtesy of Palestinian Media Watch, a video of their September performance, in which they praise “the revolution” and jihad via dance and the song: “Bracelets replaced with weapons, pull the trigger”:
Our “peace partners.”
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution