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Regarding the Leaked U.S. Government Memos - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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What is clear from the ‘Wikileaks’ U.S. government memos is that the American crisis has now amounted to a scandal. It has best been described by the Italian Foreign Minister, who called it the “9/11 of world diplomacy”. It is a scandal in the sense of the immense failure on the part of the U.S., to maintain the confidentiality of its meetings. It is also a scandal in the sense of the mentality that drives U.S. diplomacy, especially considering what the memos revealed about American diplomats spying on their counterparts in the United Nations. The question is: What impact will this have on the diplomatic situation, and international relations? Who, out of all the politicians in the world, can trust the American diplomats, knowing that their national security might be at risk? This question was highlighted by a spokesman for the British Prime Minister, who said: “The leaks and their publication are damaging to national security in the United States and in Britain, and elsewhere… It’s important that governments are able to operate on the basis of confidentiality of information.”

However, we must be mindful here. We cannot say that everything revealed in the U.S. government cables can be considered fact, as reports are taken out of context sometimes. Some of the cables were merely feedback and analysis, and others only put forward points of view, rather than concrete policies. Negotiations between state representatives are usually characterized by such frank openness, especially when behind closed doors, before any influential political decisions are made. For example, can we imagine how the Americans negotiated with the Russians, over the issue of spies, or how they negotiated with Iraq, regarding some detainees who were affiliated with Iran?

The simplest example of this comes from what one memo reported, if accurate, stating that the Saudi ruler, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, had told the Iranian Foreign Minister: “You as Persians have no business meddling in Arab matters.” He added, clearly: “May God prevent us from falling victim to their [Iran’s] evil”. All of this means that politicians do sometimes speak frankly and explicitly. The Saudi King here is not speaking candidly to a Western visitor, but he is speaking directly to the Iranian Foreign Minister, face to face. In spite of such words, King Abdullah did not decide to cut ties with Iran. It is important to recognize that informal dialogue is one thing, whilst official state positions are something else.

Thus, whatever has been said about the leaked U.S. memos, and their accuracy, they do not reveal anything new. They merely imply that there is something going on inside America, possibly similar to the ‘Watergate’ scandal, which ousted President Nixon.

It must be said here that our region does not need documents to confirm or deny that Iran is a source of concern. The Iranian response to the ‘Wikileaks’ cables seemed a wise one, not because it was altruistic in nature, but because the memos themselves condemn Iran in serious security issues. Here the observer must bring up what the Qatari Prime Minister was alleged to have said – in the memos – suggesting that the relationship with Iran is moving in accordance with the following principle: “They lie to us, and we lie to them”. This statement, if it was indeed said, deserves to be the insight of the year. It sums up the reality of the region with Iran, in all clarity. Even before the leaked memos, Tehran was aware that it is living within the vicinity of those who do not trust it, and are not willing to compromise because of its decisions and sovereignty.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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