Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe may be suffering from prostate cancer.
A fake uranium heist in Namibia.
Nigerian politicians are making money off of oil theft.
Is Uzbekistan using its supply route to Afghanistan to mess with Russia?
150 NATO flights cross into Pakistani airspace each day.
Singaporean journalists claim they're restricted from reporting bad news about the government.
Even more revelations about Thailand's royal family.
China wanted to invest in U.S. banks during the 2008 financial meltdown.
Vladimir Putin's beef with Estonia.
Saudi Arabia wants the United States to give it Predator drones to use in Yemen.
Israeli military official: "We don't do Gandhi very well."
Robert Mugabe has reportedly been badly shaken by the WikiLeaks revelations.
Has WikiLeaks lost its mojo now that the State Department cables are all out?
Assange accuses the Guardian of "negligence" for its role in the inadvertent release of the unredacted State Department cables.
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images
Iran shipped UAVs to Venezuela (via Turkey) in 2009.
The collapse of the Venezuelan opposition.
Cuban doctors working in Venezuela complained to embassy officials of being "politically manipulated" and underpaid.
Did WikiLeaks out a Malaysian politician as gay?
Another day, another WikiLeaks e-book, this one by a British journalist who seems to have been a bit too into Julian Assange.
U.S. Embassy officials cautioned the Kenyan government to restrain itself in the violence following the country's 2007 election.
The U.S. State Department's energy envoy urged Canada in 2009 to improve its "messaging" on a proposed oil-sands pipeline to the United States, including promoting "more positive news stories."
U.S. officials accused the leader of a pro-Cuban government peace group of threatening to pull U.S. medical students' scholarships if they met with the U.S. mission on the island in 2007.
Julian Assange's extradition appeal decision is deferred. After his hearing -- complete with another round of more-than-you-wanted-to-know details about Assange's sex life -- Swedish prosecutors blast the Assange legal team's "19th Century" view of sexual consent.
U.N. torture investigator Juan Mendez says the U.S. government is violating U.N. rules in refusing him access to Manning.
Blocking WikiLeaks donations prompts a competition complaint against MasterCard and Visa in Europe.
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Members of Haiti's elite complained to the U.S. Embassy in 2005 about eroding security in the country.
A Taliban representative told U.S. officials in 1996 that the Taliban had shut down "Arab" training camps in Afghanistan, and had no idea where Osama bin Laden was. A U.S. embassy official met with a Taliban representative the following year to discuss the Afghan drug trade and the group's sheltering of bin Laden.
A 1999 State Department meeting with future Afghan President Hamid Karzai, identified here as the "son of an important Afghan tribal leader."
The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad sizing up the Taliban's Mullah Omar, circa 1997.
Beijing was unhappy about North Korean nuclear tests in 2006, but powerless to stop them.
The Japanese island of Okinawa, host to a longstanding U.S. military presence, is tilting toward China and away from the United States.
Bahrain's recent crackdown on its Shiite minority came out of Saudi Arabia's playbook.
Julian Assange is reportedly backing off of plans to publish his memoirs.
A medic in Britain's Royal Navy has been sentenced to seven months' detention for refusing to train on account of WikiLeaks-inspired moral objections.
An excellent telling of the sad saga of Pfc. Bradley Manning from New York. (The online friend whose chats with Manning provide much of the new information in the piece has also made their correspondence available for download.)
SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images
U.S. diplomats condemned the "appalling greed" of Moroccan King Mohammed VI's inner circle.
The George W. Bush administration supported Catholic clergy in Venezuela who protested against Hugo Chávez (and defied the pope in so doing).
A 2008 survey found that half of Cubans couldn't identify any of the major dissidents on the island that receive U.S. backing.
Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman was an influential player in Obama's China policy during his tenure as ambassador.
Gaming out the internal power dynamics of China's Politburo Standing Committee.
Julian Assange revamps his legal team.
GOP presidential hopeful and former Arizona Gov. Gary Johnson is pretty much the only Republican willing to defend WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks thinks Bitcoin is too dodgy for donations.
Remember those cameras that Assange supporters claimed were being used to spy on him? They're actually there to monitor traffic.
THE BIG PICTURE
Has WikiLeaks ushered in an era of no government secrets?
Salvadorans are not into the idea of other people investigating Salvadorans.
U.S. officials in 2006 were concerned about the security of Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure.
The granddaddy of WikiLeaks is officially released at last.
THE BIG PICTURE
Trying to make sense of the LulzSec hackers' motives.
How WikiLeaks begat the Sarah Palin email frenzy.
CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images, Tom Pennington/Getty Images, Flickr user Andy Miah
The U.S. government, Chevron, and Exxon Mobil joined forces to kill a Venezuelan oil deal in Haiti.
The frightening state of the developing world's nuclear energy programs.
China told U.S. officials it wasn't selling nuclear reactors to Pakistan, then did it anyway.
The British government worried that Russian gas behemoth Gazprom was being run by spies.
Julian Assange says WikiLeaks "played a significant role" in the Arab Spring, but that "there are no official allegations in the public domain" of anyone being hurt by the site's document dumps.
President Barack Obama nominates a replacement for the WikiLeaks-deposed U.S. ambassador to Mexico.
The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the U.S. government to officially release WikiLeaked cables about the war on terror.
Al Jazeera's WikiLeaks-inspired document-sharing site isn't much safer than the Wall Street Journal's.
The Swedish Bar Association chastises Assange's lawyer.
Of course you want to know what Jesse Ventura thinks about WikiLeaks.
THONY BELIZAIRE/AFP/Getty Images
More than 700 files on Guantánamo Bay detainees obtained by WikiLeaks are released. Extensive coverage is here, here, here, and here. The Huffington Post has the backstory on the release. Also check out FP's roundup of the coverage and roundtable discussion of the cables with Karen Greenberg, Robert Chesney, Morris Davis, and Matthew Alexander.
Someone should tell the U.S. Department of Defense that World Net Daily is a somewhat less-than-credible source of information.
The Guantánamo file on former detainee and Al Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Hajj suggests just how suspicious the U.S. government was of the network.
Did the Ecuadorian government manipulate the country's bond market?
U.S. diplomats worry about Muammar al-Qaddafi's relationship with Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega.
Embassy officials don't think much of Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli.
The U.S. government apparently considers Pakistan's intelligence agency a terrorist (or at least terrorist-supporting) organization.
The arrest of Hmong guerrilla leader Vang Pao did wonders for the U.S.-Laos relationship.
WikiLeaks received nearly $2 million in donations last year.
Most people in 24 countries surveyed by Ipsos don't think Julian Assange is a criminal (though a lot of Americans disagree).
London's Telegraph newspaper is in hot water for publishing the name of a 15-year-old rape victim contained in the Guantánamo papers.
WikiLeaks' document cache is now pretty solidly out of the organization's control.
THE BIG PICTURE
What the Guantánamo documents tell us about mission creep in the War on Terror.
The Guantánamo papers aren't likely to change much of anything for the detainees themselves.
The New York Times owes WikiLeaks big time.
Virginie Montet/AFP/Getty Images
Qaddafi worried about a U.S. military presence in Africa.
Bernie Madoff once discussed investment opportunities with Qaddafi.
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe OK'd "clandestine operations" against FARC rebels across the border in Venezuela.
U.S. Ambassador to Colombia (and later Afghanistan) William Wood was not aware of the top Colombian military leader's dodgy résumé.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce tried to take down Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega.
China used U.S. debt obligations to pressure the United States on arms sales to Taiwan.
For the first time since World War II, Japan is building a full-blown foreign intelligence agency.
U.S. diplomats pushed Norway to buy American-made fighter jets.
Britain blocked an arms sale to Swaziland over fears the weapons could end up in Iran.
Bahrain's crown prince is not a big fan of the whole democracy thing.
A British judge rules in favor of Julian Assange's extradition to Sweden.
George W. Bush doesn't like the idea of sharing a stage with Assange.
Gaddafi's "voluptuous nurse" has had enough of Libya.
WikiLeaks cable revelations are factoring in Peru's 2011 elections.
PayPal freezes the account of a group raising defense funds for Pfc. Bradley Manning.
More on HBGary, the cybersecurity firm that tried to take down WikiLeaks' supporters.
WikiLeaks now has a gift shop.
Anonymous makes "The Colbert Report" (slightly NSFW)
THE BIG PICTURE
U.S. diplomats in 2008 called the Libyan city where protests erupted this week "a locus of extremist activity" not really under the control of Muammar Qaddafi's government.
What U.S. diplomats have to say about Xi Jinping, China's next leader.
NATO on Russia's military: Meh.
Inside the United States' cozy relationship with Bahrain.
Bahrain's king told U.S. officials that his country's opposition was trained by Hezbollah.
The U.S. government's WikiLeaks probe makes its courtroom debut in the United States.
The preposterously complex hacking and counter-hacking saga engulfing WikiLeaks' online allies.
Australia wants to make sure Julian Assange is treated justly in Sweden.
Anonymous is now going after Iran.
THE BIG PICTURE
Free speech advocate and celebrity attorney Alan Dershowitz, now Julian Assange's lawyer, tells FP why WikiLeaks is "the Pentagon Papers case for the 21st Century."
WikiLeaks' Asia cables could be a whole lot worse.
JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images
Newly instated Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman has been a longtime favorite of Israel, according to new WikiLeaks cables released Monday. The cables reveal snippets from a strategic partnership that is often fraught with differences, but mostly sharing of similar concerns, among them Gaza, Iran, and terrorism. The revelations seem particularly notable in the context of ongoing turmoil in Egypt, where protestors are calling for Mubarak to step down. The United States is now backing Suleiman as a leader of a transition government -- something that, according to the recently released cables, should help quell Isreali anxiety.
In a cable dated August 29, 2008, David Hacham, a senior adviser to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, told U.S. diplomats about Barak's visit to Egypt earlier that month, calling it a success. While Hacham said the Israelis were "shocked" by President Hosni Mubarak's "aged appearance and slurred speech," they had only nice things to say about Suleiman, then head of Egypt's foreign intelligence service. Israel and Suleiman were apparently quite close, a relationship built through the daily use of a hot line set up between the Israeli Ministry of Defense and Suleiman's office. And even as most of the world expected Mubarak's son, Gamal, to be his successor, the Israelis had different thoughts, according to the cable:
Hacham noted that the Israelis believe Soliman is likely to serve as at least an interim President if Mubarak dies or is incapacitated. (Note: We defer to Embassy Cairo for analysis of Egyptian succession scenarios, but there is no question that Israel is most comfortable with the prospect of Omar Soliman.)
With Egypt eager to position itself as a leader in the Middle East, Suleiman also apparently took a keen interest in the Israel-Palestinian negotiations, according to a different 2008 cable. He told a U.S. Congressional delegation that he was optimistic about the situation between Egypt's neighbors, but stressed his concern over "continuing Israeli criticism of Egyptian anti-smuggling efforts."
According to the cable, the timing for Israeli-Palestinian progress was right, in 2008, for four reasons:
First, the PA leadership is moderate and willing to negotiate. Second, Hamas is isolated and politically cut off in Gaza. Third, the Israelis are ready for peace; Soliman assessed that the GOI coalition is broad and strong, and larger than Rabin's coalition of the mid-nineties. Fourth, Arab states are ready to see an end to "the struggle."
Suleiman said that Egypt wanted to help the United States continue the peace process, recommending steps to continue progress:
First , both the Israelis and Palestinians must be pressed hard to sign an agreement, which the U.S. and international community could endorse, to be implemented at the proper time. Second, the U.S. should insist that "phase one" of the Roadmap should be completed before the end of 2008.
One of the last U.N. resolutions put forward by George W. Bush's administration was an ambitious plan to get blue-helmeted peacekeepers in Somalia. The bid came in January 2009, just when Ethiopian troops were withdrawing from the country, having invaded two years earlier with U.S. support. African Union (AU) peacekeepers were already working to prop up Somalia's transitional government, but the Bush administration wanted to go further, first boosting support for the AU and then sending in the U.N. forces as backup.
But the United States met opposition to the measure from an unlikely foe: Britain. In a cable written just a month earlier, U.S. diplomats in London summarized Her Majesty's Government's opposition to the peacekeeping mission:
"senior British government officials assess that "there is not enough peace to keep in Somalia" and that "there is a greater than 50 percent chance that the Djibouti process [which installed the transitional Somali government] will fail."… HMG is not convinced by arguments that a potential security vacuum following a possible Ethiopian and AMISOM withdrawal would necessarily allow al-Shabaab to take control of southern Somalia, as there are many actors who will be competing for primacy in various areas, in the British view. A more likely outcome, HMG assesses, is a situation similar to medieval Italy, where different actors control and secure small pockets around the country.
Then, there's the technical objections:
HMG thinks that force generation will be almost impossible and that troops identified will likely be inadequately trained for such a difficult security environment and reconstruction task. It would be "irresponsible" to put ill-trained and poorly equipped troops in such a complicated peacekeeping operation. Additionally, HMG is seriously concerned about the UN's peacekeeping reputation, if such a mission were to fail, especially in the wake of UNAMID's [the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Darfur, Sudan] lack-luster deployment. The UN's peacekeeping reputation is extremely important to HMG. Moreover, HMG's peacekeeping budget is over-stretched and likely to be decreasing. HMG does not want to commit the UN to a long-term mission without re-assurance that the effort will be funded.
Some of that British realism must have made an impact in Washington -- or at least at the U.N. Security Council in New York. Despite repeated resolutions to back the African Union peacekeeping mission, no U.N. peacekeepers have yet been deployed, now two years later. (Not that Britain was the only one offering these critiques -- many analysts, myself included, said the same.)
Interestingly, however, in recent years Britain has stepped in to boost one of the areas of concern: troop preparation for AU peacekeepers in Somalia. A January 2010 cable describes Britain's push for n European Union program to train 1,000 soldiers in Uganda over 12 months. "If approved," the cable claims, "the UK's new resources for Somalia will represent a significant shift in the UK's Somalia policy, especially in a resource-scarce environment, where funding for many of the UK's programs around the world is being reduced."
Over the weekend, WikiLeaks decided to drop what (if memory serves) is its largest single release to date from its cache of U.S. State Department emails, almost all of them from the U.S. Embassy in London over the past few years. We'll be picking through the good bits here over the next few days, although at first glance they seem short on blockbusters, which may explain why they haven't commanded much attention in the media. (That, and the whole dumping-hundreds-of-cables-on-a-Friday-night thing.)
The London cables mostly concern foreign policy issues where Britain's interests are closely aligned with the United States', the war in Afghanistan among them; the effort to thread the needle between the British government's commitment to the war and waning support for it among the British public is a common theme. One cable offers a lengthy account of then British Foreign Secretary David Miliband's November 2008 meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul, in which Karzai tells Miliband (in the cable's paraphrase) that "it would be difficult or impossible to hold a credible Presidential election" the following year in Afghanistan, ticking off five particularly problematic provinces. (On that much, he was right.)
Karzai also expresses optimism about the United States' new president-elect, Barack Obama, but in his conversation with Miliband you can see the seeds of the estrangement between the Afghan and American presidents that would characterize the years that followed. There's the issue of American-employed private contractors, who Karzai would order out of his country in August 2010:
Afghanistan wanted to end the way in which the Americans sub-contracted major parts of their aid program to "doubtful contractors." He was also concerned that many of the private security companies were little more than "criminal organizations." The same applied to some of the transport companies used by the U.S.; it had become apparent to Karzai that the transport companies were responsible for much of the insecurity on the highways, in order to extract higher fees and insurance payments from the Americans.
Karzai also tells Miliband that he's leery about the United States dispatching more soldiers to his country:
Karzai emphasized that more U.S. troops were not the answer. He hoped the Americans would consult the Afghan Government before sending more troops. Karzai said that the U.S. had failed to send the troops for which Karzai had asked in 2002, but now it might be too late.
Miliband brings up the inevitable question of how all of this ends, and according to the cable suggests that "reconciliation" -- presumably with the Taliban -- "subject to strict conditions, would obviously be part of that."
Karzai agreed, saying that he had consulted "the whole Afghan people," and they were all in favor of reconciliation. They wanted to "bring over the good guys, while excluding the bad guys." Karzai realizes that the U.S., Russia and Iran had doubts about reconciliation, but this was something that the Afghan people wanted, and which he was bound to press ahead.
The Libyan frogman who couldn't swim.
The FBI pursues a team of alleged Qatari would-be 9/11 conspirators in the United States.
The rift between Washington and Beijing is deeper than either government would like you to think.
The United States' secret space arms race with China.
A Croatian man tries to get back at his ex-girlfriend by telling U.S. embassy officials that she's hanging out with Osama bin Laden.
Making an oil and gas deal in Russia is really complicated.
Newly appointed Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman is close to Mubarak and foreign intelligence agencies, but not Mubarak's son. And a lot of people seem to think Mubarak's new deputy prime minister is a bureaucratic dinosaur.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accuses Syria and Iran of arming Iraqi militants.
Yemeni strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh wants his money.
U.S. diplomats doubt reforms are on the way in Jordan.
Did WikiLeaks hack into New York Times reporters' email accounts?
WikiLeaks' release process has become so complicated that even the papers involved don't know what's a scoop anymore.
Amnesty International wants Britain to pressure the U.S. government over the treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning.
THE BIG PICTURE
George W. Bush administration Assistant Attorney General Jack Goldsmith thinks Assange will be prosecuted in the United States.
New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller and Guardian Editor in Chief Alan Rusbridger talk WikiLeaks.
Forty-two percent of Americans have no idea what WikiLeaks is.
KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
The U.S. government has justifiably taken a lot of heat for its relative silence regarding -- and occasional complicity in -- the human rights abuses committed by Hosni Mubarak's regime in Egypt. But it's worth highlighting an exception in a recently WikiLeaked November 2008 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, signed by Amb. Margaret Scobey, in which American diplomats did the right thing -- while Silicon Valley played it safe.
The cable concerns an Egyptian blogger whose name is redacted in the document, but who CNET thinks is most likely Wael Abbas, a celebrated dissident journalist whose efforts to distribute videos of human rights abuses by Egyptian authorities have in one case led to convictions of the perpetrators (and who, incidentally, was arrested on Friday in Cairo, though according to his Twitter feed he's since been released):
Prominent Egyptian blogger XXXXXXXXXXXXX, contacted us November 17 to report that YouTube removed from his website two videos exposing police abuses -- one of Sinai bedouin allegedly shot by police and thrown in a garbage dump during the past week's violence (ref A), and the other of a woman being tortured in a police station. XXXXXXXXXXXXX told us that YouTube is also preventing XXXXXXXXXXXX from posting new videos, and asked us for assistance in urging YouTube to re-post his removed videos and reinstate his access to uploading new material. XXXXXXXXXXXXX said XXXXXXXXXXXXXX has tried to contact Google, but has not received a response.
The cable notes that the same thing happened to the blogger the previous year -- which again suggests that the blogger in question is Abbas, who had his YouTube access restored in December 2007 after getting kicked off for posting videos of Egyptian police brutality. At the time, YouTube explained in a statement that the company's general policy banned videos depicting graphic violence, but that "Having reviewed the case, we have restored the account of Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas -- and if he chooses to upload the video again with sufficient context so that users can understand his important message we will of course leave it on the site."
While the incident was widely reported at the time, there was no mention of any involvement of the State Department in YouTube's decision. But the 2008 cable notes:
In December 2007, DRL [State's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor] and Embassy Cairo worked to convince Google [which owns YouTube] to restore XXXXXXXXXXXXX' YouTube access after a similar incident. We believe that a similar Department intervention with Google representatives could help in restoring XXXXXXXXXXXXX' access again. XXXXXXXXXXXXis an influential blogger and human rights activist, and we want to do everything we can to assist him in exposing police abuse.
A YouTube spokeswoman wouldn't confirm or deny the cable's account of the two incidents, saying in an emailed statement that "In order to protect the privacy of our users, we do not comment on actions taken on individual videos or accounts."
KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images
WikiLeaks seems to have rediscovered the news cycle, releasing seven cables from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo as the Egyptian government crackdown on protesters and journalists turned ugly Thursday. There's not much in them that you didn't know if you've ever read a Human Rights Watch report on Egypt, though a 2009 scene-setter for a visit by FBI Director Robert Mueller does effectively sum up the sorry state of human rights and civil liberties in Hosni Mubarak's country:
Egypt's police and domestic security services continue to be dogged by persistent, credible allegations of abuse of detainees. Police brutality in Egypt against common criminals is routine and pervasive, resulting from poor training and understaffing. Over the past five years, the government has stopped denying that torture exists, and since late 2007 courts have sentenced approximately 18 police officers to prison terms for torture and killings. In March, a court sentenced a police officer to 15 years in prison for shooting a motorist following a dispute. The GOE [government of Egypt] has not yet made a serious effort to transform the police from an instrument of regime power into a public service institution, but there are indications that the government is allowing the courts increased independence to adjudicate some police brutality cases.
The Interior Ministry uses SSIS [the State Security Investigative Services] to monitor and sometimes infiltrate the political opposition and civil society. SSIS suppresses political opposition through arrests, harassment and intimidation. In February following the Gaza war, SSIS arrested a small number of pro-Palestinian activists and bloggers, and detained them for periods of a few days to several weeks.
CHRIS KLEPONIS/AFP/Getty Images
It's been a while since WikiLeaked checked in on Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's newly embattled president and a reliably interesting character in the WikiLeaks oeuvre. Most of what we've seen from Saleh in the leaked U.S. State Department cables has followed a pattern in which U.S. diplomats try to coax more counterterrorism cooperation out of the veteran strongman, while Saleh -- whose government received $155 million in military aid from the United States in 2010, twice the previous year's amount -- tries to finagle more cash and materiel out of the Americans. A newly released December 2004 State Department cable recounting a meeting between Saleh and U.S. Ambassador Thomas C. Krajeski (pictured above with Saleh in a 2007 photo) is no exception.
The meeting takes place a little more than a month after U.S. President George W. Bush's reelection; Saleh badly wants to meet with Bush in Washington to congratulate him personally, he tells Krajeski, and also talk about "important new developments in the region 'that can only be discussed face to face,'" according to the cable. Krajeski hems and haws a bit about this, at which point, the cable notes, "True to form, Saleh launched into a list of what he believes the U.S. owes him. 'Where is the money for the Army, and what about my spare (F-5) parts?' Saleh demanded." (The cable notes, a little acidly, that there have been reported problems with getting the Yemeni Ministry of Defense "to follow through with the necessary paperwork on parts and equipment in order to spend the 17 million USD in Yemen's [foreign military financing] account.")
Pointing out that any meetings with senior U.S. officials would quickly turn to the subject of Yemen's huge grey market in SA/LW [small arms/light weapons], Ambassador told Saleh that Yemen needs to gain control over the huge flow of these weapons in and through the country. Washington is very concerned about this issue and ready to help the ROYG tackle it, added Ambassador. "I will do it!" Saleh exclaimed, insisting that he was insisting that he was already "cracking down" on the SA/LWs market.
The conversation soon turns, inevitably, to counterterrorism, in which Saleh has been a longstanding if not unproblematic partner to the United States. Pressed on the subject of Hadi Dulqum, an arms dealer with alleged links to Al Qaeda, the cable reports that "Saleh stuck to his line that Hadi Dulqum is just a 'simple arms dealer:'"
The Saudis want Dulqum, said the President, "they are crazy for him. What do you expect?" he asked, "if we arrest every arms dealer in the country, we will have hundreds of them in prison." The USG [U.S. government] agrees with the Saudis, said Ambassador, adding that Dulqum's connections with AQ are too extensive for him to be simply another Yemeni arms dealer.
Months later, Saleh does manage to swing a White House invite, prompting a June 2005 cable from the Sanaa embassy titled PRIORITIES FOR WASHINGTON VISIT: SALEH NEEDS TO BE PART OF THE SOLUTION. The cable characterizes relations with Saleh's government as "frustrating and difficult," noting that "Saleh has indicated to top advisors in the past that he believes he can pull the wool over the eyes of the [U.S. government.]" On the political front, "Saleh touts Yemen as a leader in regional reform and has committed to democratization," the cable says. "Domestically, however, he has run-out of reforms he can implement at no political cost to himself."
The cable proposes "a public show of support via a greater role in public fora such as the G-8" as a possible inducement to greater democratization, but it seems that half a decade later, the upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt may have done the job more effectively.
KHALED FAZAA/AFP/Getty Images
As WikiLeaks' media partners (official and otherwise) have multiplied, it's gotten harder to follow what are and aren't new revelations in the U.S. State Department cables; even some of the media outlets seem confused. Take Britain's Daily Telegraph, which has a big headline today detailing a scoop from an ostensibly new batch of cables detailing the British government's behind-the-scenes discussions of the release of Pan Am Flight 103 bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi. The Telegraph flags an October 2008 cable in which a British Foreign Office minister advises the Libyan government on how to request the compassionate release of Megrahi, who had recently been diagnosed with inoperable cancer.
Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak thought George W. Bush was "naive, controlled by subordinates, and completely unprepared for dealing with post-Saddam Iraq."
Inside the U.S. military's $1.3 billion-a-year relationship with Egypt.
When Hillary met Hosni.
The Egyptian military's Plan B in the event of a regime change.
The U.S. military hasn't turned up any evidence of collaboration between Assange and Pfc. Bradley Manning.
Manning's supervisors warned the U.S. Army not to deploy him to Iraq.
Der Spiegel's tick-tock on the lead-up to Cablegate. (Assange: "We have to survive this leak.")
When American newspapers aren't bashing Julian Assange, they're imitating him.
WikiLeaks: the next generation.
Assange wants more media partners.
THE BIG PICTURE
Reading WikiLeaks as literature.
Is Manning Capt. James Yee all over again?
Is Algeria next?
Why the Palestine Papers aren't the next WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks has done more for Arab democracy than decades of U.S. diplomacy.
CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images
Not much is known about Xi Jinping, the expected next president of China, but according to a newly public WikiLeaks cable, Xi has been complaining to America's neighbors about "well fed foreigners" pointing fingers at China.
In a February 2009 trip to Mexico, the first stop in Xi's six-country tour of Latin America, the current vice president of China blurted out his feelings about criticisms of Chinese diplomacy, according to a diplomatic cable classified by acting deputy chief of mission James Williard.
"There are some well fed foreigners who have nothing better to do than point fingers at our affairs," Xi blurted out at a lunch meeting, appropriately. "China does not, first, export revolution; second, export poverty and hunger; third, cause troubles for you."
Xi showed up with representatives of 20 Chinese companies in tow and made the case that China and Mexico have common cause to cooperate economically, as both are developing countries facing the consequences of a global financial crisis they didn't cause. The embassy cable noted that Xi's outburst seemed to reveal the Xi's true feelings about America despite a more diplomatic message during the rest of his visit.
"It should be noted that his criticism of 'well-fed foreigners' sharply contrasted from the overarching cooperation theme of his visit and were delivered on the first leg of his trip in a country with strong ties to the United States," the cable said.
The cable reported that Mexico was trying to correct its huge trade deficit with China and that Mexican officials were wary of China's tactic of expanding economic activity in developing countries.
"We don't want to be China's next Africa," a Mexican official told a U.S. Embassy economics officer, according to the cable, referring to the oft-cited criticism that China has pursued a strategy of seizing the continent's huge natural resources while dumping cheap industrial and manufactured products into foreign markets. "We need to own our country's development."
Two other recently released WikiLeaks cables also detailed China's charm offensive in Latin America and skepticism on that continent of Chinese motives and practices.
"China's strategy in Latin America is clear: it wants to 'control the supply of commodities,' said the Brazilian consul general in Shanghai," according to one cable sent to Washington from the U.S. Shanghai Consulate in April 2009.
"Colombia is wary of Chinese motives and what it sees as lax Chinese environmental and labor standards. However, Colombia needs new economic partners, particularly given the lack of progress on a U.S.-Colombia Free Trade agreement (FTA)," said another cable, conveying the views of Colombian diplomats as reported by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
The cables paint a picture of an aggressive Chinese effort to insert state-owned companies into America's backyard while Latin American countries have few options but to go along in the face of American neglect.
Xi, who is expected to succeed President Hu Jintao in 2012, has been intimately involved in those efforts, the cables show.
So how did his trip to Mexico go? The cables report the results as mixed.
"Xi's visit intensified the Mexico-China dialogue," the cable said. "However, Mexico's trade deficit with China and concerns over China's approach to investment continue to color Mexico's perception of China as a true partner."
AFP / Getty Images
On July 25, 1990, Saddam Hussein summoned April Glaspie, the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad, to discuss Iraq's brewing dispute with Kuwait. Their discussion would eventually cost Glaspie her promising career as a diplomat.
One week after the meeting, Saddam's troops would storm into Kuwait, beginning the chain of events that eventually led to the Gulf War. Now, with WikiLeaks' release of Glaspie's cable describing her meeting with Saddam, we have her firsthand perspective on one of the seminal events that preceded the conflict.
The cable is more interesting for what is not discussed than what is. Glaspie doesn't show any awareness that war is just around the corner; she mainly offers diplomatic pablum that the United States is interested in "friendship" with Iraq. Due to her failure to warn Saddam that the United States would forcefully retaliate in the event of an invasion of Kuwait, the Washington Post described her as "the face of American incompetence in Iraq." Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer piled on in a 2003 article for Foreign Policy, arguing that Glaspie's remarks unwittingly gave Iraq a green light to invade Kuwait.
That's an unfair judgment. Glaspie was unable to employ harsher language because George H.W. Bush's administration hadn't yet reached a decision on how the United States would respond to an Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. "Practically nobody in the U.S. government believed that Saddam was going to opt for military action," Wayne White, who served in the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) at the time of the Gulf War, told me.
Saddam, after all, had sent two of his highest-ranking deputies to Saudi Arabia to hold negotiations with the Kuwaitis to resolve the crisis. And during the meeting with Glaspie, he received a telephone call from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak where he pledged that "nothing will happen" until after the discussions. Surely the Iraqi dictator wasn't preparing to invade a U.S. ally, seize a significant share of world oil supplies, and sabotage the diplomatic efforts of the Arab world's two most powerful countries?
In fact, he was. But the United States had yet to appreciate that fact, leaving Glaspie with instructions only to issue a tepid plea to find a negotiated solution to the dispute. "There was no way that April could have done anything more than she did without authority going all the way up to the president of the United States," said White. "Because we don't make idle threats. If you're going to threaten, you have to really mean it."
Glaspie, who became the first female U.S. ambassador posted to a Middle Eastern country when she was sent to Iraq, became something of a pariah within the State Department after this episode. She served at the U.S. mission to the United Nations after leaving Iraq, and then headed the U.S. consulate in Cape Town, South Africa, before retiring in 2002. For someone who had previously spent her entire career focused on U.S. policy in the Middle East, these were something less than dream assignments.
The WikiLeaks cables do show that Glaspie was not the sharpest observer of Saddam's regime, and at points made the mistake of trying to handle the Iraqi president with kid gloves. In one cringe-inducing line, she commiserates with Saddam over his unhappiness with how the Diane Sawyer show edited an interview with him, saying that it was "cheap and unfair." Der Spiegel, which apparently has unreleased cables from the period written by Glaspie, reported that the U.S. diplomat also described to the State Department an "important" initiative by Saddam to draft a new Iraqi constitution.
Perhaps that credulousness is the reason why Glaspie's rise in the State Department stalled. But on the charge that she could have deterred Saddam from invading Kuwait by using sterner language during that much-debated meeting, she is certainly innocent.
MIKE NELSON/AFP/Getty Images
Has Cablegate claimed its first State Department scalp? McClatchy's Warren P. Strobel reports:
In what appears to be the first diplomatic casualty from the latest WikiLeaks revelations, the U.S. ambassador to Libya has returned to Washington and is likely to leave his post, U.S. officials said Tuesday.
Ambassador Gene Cretz (above), who had held the post since 2008, signed a handful of cables about the health and personal eccentricities of Muammar al-Gaddafi which were among the first and most high-profile State Department documents published by WikiLeaks. The most notorious among them (which was high-profile enough to make it into a Saturday Night Live skit) noted that Qaddafi "relies heavily" on a Ukrainian nurse, "who has been described as a ‘voluptuous blonde.'"
Strobel reports that even if Cretz's recall was not entirely WikiLeaks related, the scandal apparently had a lot to do with it:
A senior State Department official said that the WikiLeaks revelations were not the only reason for Cretz's return, noting the frustrations of U.S.-Libyan ties.
"It's a complicated relationship, and WikiLeaks just added to that complication," said the official, who requested anonymity because no announcement has been made on Cretz's status.
Cretz was the first U.S. ambassador dispatched to Libya since his predecessor was withdrawn in 1972, three years after Gaddafi took power in a coup. Where Cretz is headed next hasn't been announced.
Cables from the U.S. Embassy in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare account for just 13 of the nearly 2,000 State Department documents that WikiLeaks has posted so far, but President Robert Mugabe's government has gotten a lot of mileage out of them -- in fact, he's probably made more enterprising use of the slow-rolling scandal than any other world leader. When an independent Zimbabwean newspaper reported on a cable alleging that members of Mugabe's circle -- including his wife, Grace Mugabe -- had profited extensively from the country's black -market diamond trade, the first lady sued the paper for $15 million (a move that has prompted reprisals from hackers). When WikiLeaks published a year-old cable detailing a meeting between Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and U.S. officials, Mugabe -- who had grudgingly acceded to a power-sharing arrangement with his old nemesis -- jumped at the opportunity.
Last week, Johannes Tomana, Zimbabwe's attorney general, announced that he would consider charging Tsvangirai with high treason over the contents of the cable, in which Tsvangirai suggests the possibility of working with U.S. and other foreign officials on the international sanctions regime imposed on Mugabe's government -- penalties that Tsvangirai publicly opposed but privately insisted "be kept in place," according to the cable. High treason carries the death penalty in Zimbabwe, and a number of writers -- Christopher Albon in the Atlantic, James Kirchick in the Wall Street Journal, and James Richardson in today's Guardian, among others -- have pre-emptively placed Tsvangirai's blood on Julian Assange's hands. Richardson's piece is a particularly good summary of the events thus far and builds to a withering conclusion:
And so, where Mugabe's strong-arming, torture and assassination attempts have failed to eliminate the leading figure of Zimbabwe's democratic opposition, WikiLeaks may yet succeed. Twenty years of sacrifice and suffering by Tsvangirai all for naught, as WikiLeaks risks "collateral murder" in the name of transparency.
Before more political carnage is wrought and more blood spilled -- in Africa and elsewhere, with special concern for those US-sympathising Afghans fingered in its last war document dump -- WikiLeaks ought to leave international relations to those who understand it -- at least to those who understand the value of a life.
It's certainly true that Assange has been maddeningly unwilling to examine the implications of his actions -- or, alternately, convinced that he can have it both ways, remaking the business of geopolitics while claiming no casualties. But I'm somewhat more persuaded by Albon's measured take from last week. After noting that a Tsvangirai conviction based on the cable alone is unlikely, he writes:
It's difficult to see this as anything but a major setback for democracy in Zimbabwe. Even if Tsvangirai is not charged with treason, the opponents to democratic reforms have won a significant victory. First, popular support for Tsvangirai and the MDC will suffer due to Mugabe's inevitable smear campaign, including the attorney general's "investigation." Second, the Prime Minister might be forced to take positions in opposition to the international community to avoid accusation of being a foreign collaborator. Third, Zimbabwe's fragile coalition government could collapse completely. Whatever happens, democratic reforms in Zimbabwe are far less likely now than before the leak.
As Robert Rotberg wrote here last week, WikiLeaks may have provided Mugabe with a useful pretext for dispatching Tsvangirai from his government, but it's an open question whether he needed one. In reward for his decade-plus of political efforts, Tsvangirai has been variously arrested, beaten, tortured, thrown from a 10th-floor window, and involved in a suspicious collision with a truck that claimed his wife's life. WikiLeaks is useful to Mugabe, but it's hardly necessary.
DESMOND KWANDE/AFP/Getty Images
Another day, another cable about alleged central-African multi-million-dollar embezzlement -- this time in Gabon.
The Obama administration dispatches a Florida senator to urge Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon not to pursue a torture case against Bush administration officials.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency quietly evolves into an international intelligence agency.
How a Brazilian who once kidnapped a U.S. ambassador managed to get into the United States.
McDonald's tries to muck up a free trade agreement in El Salvador.
The Jamaican government warned U.S. officials that extraditing a local drug lord would lead to trouble.
Britain trains a "government death squad" in Bangladesh.
Did Britain try to cheat Mauritius out of an island chain?
Inside Russia's awful prisons.
Shell thinks that Ireland could become a booming offshore gas supplier -- or not.
More U.S. complaints about Egypt's lackluster military.
Behind the scenes of an assassination in Dubai.
Julian Assange claims (dubiously) to have the names of CIA moles in Arab governments.
The FBI pays back "Operation Payback" over PayPal attack.
77 percent of Americans disapprove of WikiLeaks' cable release.
Did WikiLeaks dash Zimbabwe's hopes for democracy?
Hackers claim to have brought down Zimbabwean government websites in retaliation for a WikiLeaks-related lawsuit against a Harare newspaper.
THE BIG PICTURE
Daniel Ellsberg lawyer Floyd Abrams says Assange is no Daniel Ellsberg.
Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images
On Thursday, Julian Assange told reporters that WikiLeaks would be releasing State Department cables concerning the assassination of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai in January, and he has made good on the promise with a couple of short dispatches from the U.S. embassy in Abu Dhabi. They don't offer any more insight into the still-unsolved killing, but they do paint a picture of the diplomatic conundrum the incident posed for the United Emirates and the United States.
Mabhouh, a Hamas military commander who had orchestrated the
kidnapping and killing of two Israeli soldiers and was suspected of smuggling arms into the Gaza Strip, died in his room at the Al
Bustan Rotana hotel in Dubai on Jan. 19, after being injected with the muscle
relaxant succinylcholine and then suffocated. Although Israel
has denied it won't confirm or deny it, the
list of people who don't believe that Mossad agents did the job is vanishingly
short. The hit squad had deftly
plotted and executed the assassination, using encrypted cell phones and passports
from half a dozen countries, and quickly scattered themselves from Hong Kong to
Paris once their work was done. Their one mistake, however, was a big one:
failing to account for the hotel's CCTV cameras, which caught
their faces on tape.
The story was first reported 10 days later by Reuters, and as it happened, U.S. Ambassador Richard Olson was at a social event with UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed when it broke, according to one of the two embassy cables, signed by Olson. An unnamed UAE media advisor, Olson reports in the Jan. 31 cable, "after making a few calls reported back that the UAE's public posture was being discussed between Dubai Ruler Mohammed bin Rashid and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. The two options discussed were to say nothing at all, or to reveal more or less the full extent of the UAE's investigations."
The UAE was no friend of Hamas -- the emirate's discontent with Hamas patron Iran is a recurring theme in the WikiLeaks corpus -- but its government was, of course, not exactly eager to be seen as enabling an Israeli incursion on the sovereignty of an Arab state, either. The cable describes the UAE officials' reasoning, and decision:
Saying nothing would have been perceived as protecting the Israelis and in the end, the UAE chose to tell all. The statement was carefully drafted not to point any fingers, but the reference in the document (see below) to a gang with western passports will be read locally as referring to the Mossad.
American officials had their own decision to make about where their loyalties were -- one documented in the second cable, signed by Olson deputy Doug Greene, several weeks later. Greene reports that UAE officials requested the embassy's help in acquiring account data for credit cards, issued by a bank in Iowa, that investigators had linked to suspects in the assassination. The request was apparently turned down, and as Haaretz reports, the State Department denied at the time that any requests had been made. "By not accepting the request," Haaretz's Yossi Melman writes, "the Obama administration harmed the Dubai investigation efforts and assisted Israel instead." The U.S. government did eventually assist in the investigation, however, identifying American companies that may have been used to finance the operation.
David Silverman/Getty Images
A story in the Guardian on Monday, reporting on another cable from the paper's WikiLeaks master cache, opens with a bang:
The United Nations' drugs czar told NATO that Afghan insurgents were withholding thousands of tonnes of heroin and treating their drugs like "savings accounts" to manipulate street prices in the west, according to a leaked US cable.
The cable is from May 2009, and details a briefing by Antonio Maria Costa, then the United Nations' top drug official, at NATO headquarters, on the occasion of the release of his office's 2009 Afghan opium survey. My first thought reading the Guardian piece was, Wow, the U.N. drug czar has no idea what he's talking about. Then I read the cable. It turns out this is what's actually in there:
Costa said that Afghanistan has 12,400 tons of opium stocks because it produces more than the world consumes. Costa believes the insurgency is withholding these stocks from the market and treating them like "savings accounts." He said the stocks pose a serious threat as it could be used to finance the insurgency. Costa encouraged intelligence organizations to keep focus on the storage and movement of Afghanistan's opium stocks.
Costa is talking about the price of unrefined opium within Afghanistan, not the price of the finished product in London or New York -- which means the Guardian is unfairly saddling Costa with its own rather large analytical error here. If you want the long explanation for why, read this very useful paper on the Afghan opium trade and counternarcotics strategy, released by New York University's Center for International Cooperation in June, written by drug policy experts Jonathan Caulkins, Mark Kleiman, and Jonathan Kulick. If you want the short answer, read this bit of it:
[T]he price of raw opium, and even refined heroin ready for export from Afghanistan, contributes only modestly to the retail prices facing heroin users in drug-importing countries -- the effect of falling opium prices in Afghanistan would be tiny in remote markets such as western Europe, larger but still quite modest in nearer markets, and substantial only within Afghanistan itself. Effects in the United States, if any, would be even smaller than those in western Europe, since the U.S. heroin market is currently supplied primarily from Colombia and Mexico.
Rising prices are similarly insignificantly affected by price fluctuations inside Afghanistan -- which is why supply-side-only counternarcotics strategies, in Afghanistan or anywhere else, tend to work poorly.
Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images
In March 2010, then-CENTCOM chief Gen. David Petraeus set off a storm of protest among neoconservatives when, in his statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee, he named "insufficient progress toward a comprehensive Middle East peace" as an obstacle to U.S. goals in the region.
"The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in the AOR [area of responsibility]," read the statement. "Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world." At the same time, Petraeus concluded, "Al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support. The conflict also gives Iran influence in the Arab world through its clients, Lebanese Hizballah and Hamas."
While this represented only one of a number of "cross cutting challenges to security and stability" detailed in his statement, Petraeus' analysis was too much for the Anti-Defamation League's Abe Foxman, who quickly issued a scolding: "Gen. Petraeus has simply erred in linking the challenges faced by the U.S. and coalition forces in the region to a solution of the Israeli-Arab conflict," said Foxman. "This linkage is dangerous and counterproductive."
That such a carefully calibrated statement of the obvious should draw condemnation from the ADL -- as if the very suggestion that Israel's conflicts could create difficulties for its American patron were itself a form of defamation -- indicates how uncomfortable the notion of "linkage" makes many Israel hawks.
WikiLeaks has released its first confidential cable written by diplomats from the U.S. mission to the United Nations. While the December 2009 cable -- which discusses U.S. efforts on a range of issues before the U.N. General Assembly -- provides no major news revelations, it contains some valuable insights into the way America conducts its business here.
The confidential U.S. diplomatic communication -- which was approved by U.S. ambassador Susan E. Rice -- shows how reliant the U.S. is on its allies, particularly in Europe, to take the lead on politically sensitive issues like the promotion of human rights, where the U.S. often faces criticism for its military and detention policies. The cable credits the European Union with "collaborating pragmatically" with the Obama administration on its top priorities, including efforts to require emerging economic powers to pay a larger share of the U.N.'s administrative and peacekeeping costs, and to adopt U.N. resolutions criticizing the human rights record of Burma, Iran, and North Korea.
The EU, led by Sweden, also helped Washington fend off efforts by an influential alliance of developing countries -- known as the Group of 77 -- to adopt resolutions that would increase American financial burdens, including a draft resolution affirming a right to economic development.
The EU "responded with alacrity to new U.S. flexibility, particularly on arms control and economic/social issues," according to the cable. "The Swedish ambassador himself repeatedly engaged with G-77 colleagues to sway votes."
The cable, however, also singled out areas where key European powers refused to budge, including its annual support for a General Assembly resolution condemning the U.S. embargo against Cuba: "Spain was a particularly tenacious critic of our Cuba policy." It also expressed frustration with the failure of the EU, despite strong support from Britain, France, and the Netherlands, to significantly weaken a raft of nine pro-Palestinian resolutions that criticize Israel each year. "The EU's annual negotiation of these nine drafts... improved marginally.... The vote outcomes remained lopsided."
On the whole, this U.N. cable was certainly more businesslike than many of the most dramatic reports flowing out of U.S. embassies around the world. But I anticipate that future releases may provide sharper insights into many of the U.N.'s more colorful personalities. Perhaps they will even show us what Rice really thinks about U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Follow me on Twitter @columlynch.
While the demonization of Julian Assange continues apace, the following thought occurred to me (it probably occurred to you already). Suppose a reporter like David Sanger or Helene Cooper of the New York Times had been given a confidential diplomatic cable by a disgruntled government employee (or "unnamed senior official"). Suppose it was one of the juicier cables recently released by Wikileaks. Suppose further that Sanger or Cooper had written a story based on that leaked information, and then put the text of the cable up on the Times website so that readers could see for themselves that the story was based on accurate information. Would anyone be condemning them? I doubt it. Whoever actually leaked the cable might be prosecuted or condemned, but the journalists who published the material would probably be praised, and their colleagues would just be jealous that somebody else got a juicy scoop.
So if one leaked cable is just normal media fodder, how about two or three? What about a dozen? What's the magic number of leaks that turns someone from an enterprising journalist into the Greatest Threat to our foreign policy since Daniel Ellsberg? In fact, hardly anyone seems to be criticizing the Times or Guardian for having a field day with the materials that Wikileaks provided to them (which is still just a small fraction of the total it says it has), and nobody seems to hounding the editors of these publications or scouring the penal code to find some way to prosecute them.
I don't know if the sex crime charges against Assange in Sweden have any merit, and I have no idea what sort of person he really is (see Robert Wright here for a thoughtful reflection on the latter issue). I also find it interesting that the overwrought U.S. reaction to the whole business seems to be reinforcing various anti-American stereotypes. But the more I think about it, the less obvious it is to me why the man is being pilloried for doing wholesale what establishment journalists do on a retail basis all the time.
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
After 35 years on the job, it's a fair bet that Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal has some tricks up his sleeve. However, the WikiLeaked revelation that Prince Saud supported the establishment of an "Arab force" in Lebanon to combat Hezbollah has left many in Beirut and Washington wondering exactly what the world's longest-serving foreign minister had in mind. Here's the prince's recommendation, as relayed by Ambassador David Satterfield:
What was needed was an ‘Arab force' drawn from Arab ‘periphery' states to deploy to Beirut under the "cover of the UN" and with a significant presence drawn from UNIFIL in south Lebanon ‘which is sitting doing nothing.' The US and NATO would be asked to provide equipment for such a force as well as logistics, movement support, and ‘naval and air cover.'
The concept of an "Arab force" has been tried before, during one of the first episodes in Prince Saud's long tenure. The 1976 Arab League summit in Riyadh, meant to resolve the nascent Lebanese civil war, resulted in the establishment of something called the "Arab Deterrent Force." Saudi Arabia and other Arab states provided troops to the new peacekeeping effort, but the bulk of the soldiers were contributed by Syria. Troops from the other Arab countries soon lost interest and abandoned the peacekeeping force -- but Syria remained, using the endeavor to legitimize its occupation of Lebanon.
The outcome of the 1976 force hints at the problem with reviving the idea of an "Arab force" today. Syria was only able to establish its preeminence in Lebanon after another 14 years of fighting and thousands of casualties. Today, none of the Arab states that would contribute troops to limit Hezbollah's power -- Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan -- are conceivably in a position to make a similar sacrifice. Hezbollah fought the vastly superior Israel Defense Forces to a standstill for more than a month in 2006; the militant group would be an ever harder nut to crack for Washington's Arab allies.
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WikiLeaked is FP’s blog dedicated to sorting through and making sense of the more than 250,000 State Department cables acquired by WikiLeaks.