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Possible effects of WikiLeaks on Middle East

Source : İsmail Duman | World Bulletin
Wednesday : 29 Dec 2010

In the previous analysis, we tried to focus on suspicions and questions about the releasing Wikileaks cables. And then, we looked at the Turkey’s position in these leaks up to some extend. Although we examine how US diplomats or the other diplomats evaluate Turkey, Turkey’s AKP, and its leaders, we couldn’t look at the viewpoints of Turkish leaders about their neighboring countries or any other political issue.

As you know, in the previous analysis, we said that “As we know that Turkey which has good relations with Israel and the US, tries to enter EU and is a member of NATO. So, we should read Wikileaks cables from different perspective. Maybe it can be for the Middle East policies of America and of course Turkey has an important role in this region. But I think, if these documents are against someone, it is not against to Turkey, but to the Middle East.”

Today, we will try to examine how these leaks effect relations between Middle Eastern countries. Firstly, I want to look at Iranian case because there are many cables about Iran and then I will focus on Turkey’s viewpoint to the region in terms of published leaks. In this way, I hope we will more easily understand this reality: The U.S. tries to prepare appropriate and necessary ground for a new Middle East through these cables.

Towards a New Middle East?

“Anyone with an IQ superior to 75 might have suspected by now that US diplomats spy on their United Nations colleagues (under Clinton's orders); that Washington conducted a bazaar to force small countries to accept Guantanamo inmates; that the Pakistani military/intelligence establishment is intertwined with the Taliban; or that paragon of democracy and human rights Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz urged the US to attack Iran.” says Pepe Escobar, from Atimes. “Fear of Shi'ite Iran after all is the rule among that gaggle of unpopular Sunni Arab autocrats/dictators constantly harping and begging for the US to sell them the weapons that keep them in power.”

As we mentioned before in one of the past analyses, while, today, US is losing its superpower status, through NATO’s attempts it tries to recreate its power. In this process, through ratifying missile shield agreement, Turkey is serving in favor of US’s benefits. On the other hand, Iranians also know that this missile shield system is firstly for them.And as we know again, always and always, US makes a decision in NATO and Israel is the most profitable country in this process because America does not take its steps without thinking Israel and its interests.

So, the release of these leaks, in my opinion, is not accident. After the releasing these cables, every person forgot the NATO issue and I think, we cannot read this process independent from the American dreams on Middle East. Today, Wikileaks serves Israel’s interest in the region, of which its main target is Iran.

Is main target Iran?

According to Victor Kotsev, from Atimes, “The cables bolstered some of Israel's main arguments about Iran: that Arab leaders see the Iranian crisis as much more important than the peace process, and, moreover, that privately they urge strongly for an American military intervention. “

When we read cables about Iran, we can see that there is a main tendency that Iran is a threat for some Middle Eastern countries. As Pepe Escobar says, as for the bulk of what has been leaked so far, especially on Iran and the movers and shakers in the Persian Gulf, it is barely disguised US/Israeli propaganda.

“Not accidentally, many a global headline is beating the same drum along the lines of "Israel greets WikiLeaks cables as vindication of its Iran policy". An overall assessment of the leaked cables reveals that as much as Israel and the powerful US Israel lobby worked overtime to bring about the invasion and destruction of Iraq, it is doubling the bet to do exactly the same regarding Iran. Attention should be paid to a cable warning that "elegant and seductive" Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "never keeps his promises". As in: no halt to settlements in the West Bank, and let's bomb, bomb Iran.”

So, we should think again and again what the main plan can be in the release of these cables. There is no any evidence which disturb zionist regime. On the other hand, many cables about Iran imply the isolation of Iran. And if we read this picture with Turkey’s acceptance the NATO’s missile shield system, it will be more meaningful.

What do Wikileaks cables say for Iran?

As Jason Rezaian says, “unsurprisingly, Iran surfaces time and time again among the tens of thousands of classified State Department documents released by WikiLeaks on Sunday. In more than 11,000 of them, in fact, Iran is discussed — everything from how to thwart its nuclear program to personal attacks on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”

On the other hand, “Though the documents randomly speak of different incidents, they are largely focused on the Islamic Republic and on the legendary notion that it is viewed by the Arab world as a threat to the world and the region.” says Masih Ghorbani, from PressTv.

According to Israeli Yedioth Ahronoth Newspaper, “The Mossad chief Meir Dagan presented the United States with a five-step program to perform a coup in Iran in August 2007, one of the documents revealed by the Wikileaks website indicates.“

According to these cables, in a meeting with Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns Dagan said that Israel and the US have different timetables regarding Iran's ability to achieve nuclear abilities.

And he presented a five-step program against Iran:

1. Political approach: Dagan praised efforts to bring Iran before the Security Council and the decision to hold another round of sanctions, but stressed that this approach alone was not sufficient. He stressed that the timetable for political action against Iran was different that the nuclear project's timetable.

2. Secret steps: Dagan and Burns agreed not to discuss this approach in the wider forum of the discussion.

3. Nuclear proliferation: Dagan stressed the need to prevent the transfer of knowledge and technology to Iran and said more can be done on the matter.

4. Sanctions: Dagan stated that three Iranian banks were on the verge of collapse and that the economic sanctions had national effect. He claimed the Iranian regime has difficulty handling the banks.

5. Regime change: Dagan said more should be done to change the regime, and raised the possibility of recruiting democratic student and ethnic movements as well as dissidents to this end.

In addition to this, as Masih Ghorbani says, “Among the baseless allegations is the facile sale of 19 missiles by North Korea to Iran, known as Musudan (also known as the BM-25), indicating that the Islamic republic is now capable of targeting Western Europe and Russia. Musudan, also known as Nodong / Rodong-B, Mirim and Taepodong-X, is a mobile intermediate-range ballistic missile developed by North Korea based on Soviet Union's R-27 Zyb (SS-N-6 'Serb').”

At the same time, about allegations of Saudi King on Iran, Mohieddin Sajedi says so: “Not only the Saudi monarch, King Abdullah bin Abdull Aziz, but Bahraini, Jordanian, and Egyptian officials -- according to the Wikileaks files -- repeatedly urged the US to attack Iran and "cut off the snake's head." And he adds: “Wikileaks will most likely continue to publish more documents, but it is almost certain it would never contain any material on how the same Arab states, which pushed for a US Attack on Iran, ask for the same military aggression against Israel or at least urge Washington to pressure Tel Aviv into respecting international resolutions.”

Up to the present, I tried to mention some allegations about Iran in these cables. But, actually, it was possible to read these comments before the releasing these leaks because there is no any new information about Iran and its enemies. Who don’t know discomfort of Saudi Arabia about Iran? So, actually, these documents is interesting because of its timing. Here is the main point. I think, here we should give an ear to the comments of some Iranian columnists.

Comments of Iranian and Other Columnists

As Michel Chossudovsky says, “The Western media has jumped on this opportunity and has quoted the State Department memoranda released by Wikleaks with a view to upholding Iran as a threat to global security as well as fostering divisions between Iran and the Arab world.” In a parallel to this, some columnist describe this process as a “Iranophobia”.

According to Masih Ghorbani, “This apartheid selection by the WikiLeaks website casts doubt on the authenticity of the documents and reeks of a conspiracy only to be sought in the rotten policies of the US government which has long launched a mudslinging campaign against the Islamic Republic in order to destabilize the Iranian system and fan the flame of Iranophobia in the world.” And he adds: The idea of demonizing Iran is not a new one and the release of the new documents should be viewed as “a fresh attempt well suited to the interests of the US government.”

In addition to this, Ghorbani point out different picture in this issue. He brings the death of Dr Majid Shahriari to the agenda: “On the other hand, attention was yet again forcibly drawn to Iran exactly the day after the publication of the documents by the elite news outlets when two Iranian academics were targeted by terrorists in Tehran. Dr Majid Shahriari who was on his way to Shahid Beheshti University was martyred when an unknown terrorist on a moving motorbike attached a bomb to his car. On the same day, in a similar attack, Dr Fereydoun Abbasi, another university scholar, was targeted by the terrorists but could escape the incident with minor injuries.”

According to him, through these cables, it is planned that Iran will be isolated and then, they can easily invade this region and change this ‘problematic’ regime: “The gargantuan propaganda machine of the western media is exhausting every effort to color the truth about Iran and demonize a country which is treading on the right path but that which resists the powers-that-be seeking with all their might to stall its progress.”

On the other hand, according to Reza Marashi, who is director of research at the National Iranian American Council and a former Iran desk officer at the U.S. State Department, for Iran, “WikiLeaks should make it clear -- it has no real friends, in the region or elsewhere. At best, it has leverage that is facilitated by business arrangements. Trust is in short supply. Going forward, this is likely to affect its strategic calculus vis-à-vis the U.S. and its nuclear program.”

Moreover, Hassan Beheshtipour questions independence of the WikiLeaks: “Wikileaks has been founded by Australian hacker Julian Paul Assange and in 2010 was introduced to the world by utilizing anti-war movements in Europe, the United States and Canada. For those, who believe that according to a Persian saying "a knife never cuts its own handle", accepting that Wikileaks is an independent information center is quite difficult.”

Lastly, Mohieddin Sajedi ask us very important two questions: “Is the United States planning to introduce a new form of diplomacy whereby it reveals the rifts between seemingly friendly governments and reveals their secret enemies in the hopes of making Washington an indispensible ally?

Or is this an independent move on the part of hackers seeking to redefine the boundaries of politics and security? The answers may never emerge but the questions themselves demand close scrutiny.”

As we think Sajedi’s questions very carefully, we should also look at the Turkey’s position in this context. As I mentioned above, in the previous analysis, we examine how US diplomats or the other diplomats evalute Turkey, Turkey’s AKP, and its leaders; and now, we will look at the viewpoints of Turkish leaders about their neighboring countries or any other political issue.

Where does Turkey stand in this picture?

Firstly, I want to mention the details of Williams Burnes-Feridun Sinirlioglu meeting:

“Burns strongly urged Sinirlioglu to support action to convince the Iranian government it is on the wrong course. Sinirliolgu reaffirmed the GoT’s opposition to a nuclear Iran; however, he registered fear about the collateral impact military action might have on Turkey and contended sanctions would unite Iranians behind the regime and harm the opposition.

Sinirlioglu acknowledged the countries of the region perceive Iran as a growing threat: “Alarm bells are ringing even in Damascus”

In addition to this, the comments of Sinirlioglu about Syria so:

“Sinirlioglu contended Turkey’s diplomatic efforts are beginning to pull Syria out of Iran’s orbit. He said a shared hatred for Saddam had been the original impetus for their unlikely alliance. “Now, their interests are diverging.” Once again pitching Israel-Syria proximity talks, Sinirlioglu contended Israel’s acceptance of Turkey as a mediator could break Syria free of Tehran’s influence and further isolate Iran.”

Moreover, Sinirlioglu’s comment about Rasmussen is also very interesting: “We let Rasmussen have Secretary General, because we trusted you.”

After we read these comments, I think, we should glance our position in the forign policy again. O.K., these cables should not allow to get worse relations between Turkey and Middle Eastern countries, especially Iran. But, on the other hand, we should be careful in shaping our position in the region. Today, we are seeing that The U.S. is planning to shape a new Middle East which is loyal to itself.

Although Michael Busch says that “Turkey is pursuing closer relations with Iran for several mutually-reinforcing reasons. First, the underlying principle: According to a Turkish university professor who informally advises FM Davutoglu on Middle East issues (ref C), Turkey's pursuit of close relations with Iran is a direct reflection of Davutoglu's academic philosophy and influential 2000 book, ‘Strategic Depth,’ in which he first articulated a policy of "zero problems" with Turkey's neighbors. Another Istanbul-based professor told us that Turkey's Iran policy represents "a triumph of real-politik," with Turkey's national and regional interests trumping any discomfort that Turkey, as a multi-ethnic, pluralistic democracy, might feel about the Iranian regime's harsh domestic authoritarianism. This contact described Davutoglu as ‘Turkey's Kissinger.’”, the last of his writing, he asks a good question and answers it: “Zero problems, eh? Hardly”

Here, giving an ear to Aaron Stein is very helpful for us in order to understand Turkey’s foreign policy very clearly:

“The leaked cables also discuss the role domestic opinion has on Turkish foreign policy. Standing up to Israel, which is often used as proof of the AK Party’s alleged Islamist links, plays really well on the “Turkish street” and promotes Erdoğan’s popularity at home and abroad. With regards to Iran, the WikiLeaks cables show that Erdoğan’s support for Iran helps him politically. His support for the Iranian regime helps the AK Party secure votes from “a group of Islamic voters associated with former Prime Minister Erbakan.” The same could certainly be said about his recent anti-Israel rhetoric and outspoken support for Gaza.

.....

Turkey, despite claims to contrary, continues to value its alliance with the West. One could argue that its relationship with the West is the lynchpin for the AK Party’s foreign policy aspirations. If Turkey loses the West, its appeal to the East and the Middle East is diminished. The more likely reason for Turkey’s support of Iran has to do with the AK Party’s unique perspective on Turkish security.”

What about Syria?

Interestingly, there are important cables about Syria. Firstly, let us look at them and then try to understand them clearly.

According to Jerusalem Post Newspaper, “Syria would end its alliance with Iran in exchange for peace with Israel and greater US involvement in the process, Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz, head of Military Intelligence’s Research Directorate, told a top American official last year, according to a US diplomatic cable published on Monday by Wikileaks.

The cable documented a meeting between Baidatz and other top Israeli officials with US Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Ambassador Alexander Vershbow in November 2009.

During the meeting, Baidatz said that according to Israeli intelligence assessments, if Syria were able to achieve peace with “security” and obtain greater US involvement, it would be willing to pull away from Iran’s orbit.

According to the US cable, Baidatz said that if Syrian President Bashar Assad were forced to choose between peace with Israel and Iran and his ‘negative assets’ – Hamas and Hizbullah – he would choose peace. Such a peace, Baidatz said, would be detrimental for Hizbullah, which relies heavily on Syrian support.

‘It would be a gradual process before Hizbullah could completely wean itself from the Syrian support apparatus and that, ultimately, both Hizbullah’s and Iran’s flexibility would be significantly reduced,’ Baidatz said, according to the cable.”

When we read this picture from the viewpoint of Jerusalem Post, every way goes to the Israel. In other words, both Turkey and Syria prefer to agree with Israel rather than to stand by Iran’s side. Is it really so? Maybe, all these speeches can be true; but the aim of releasing these leaks seems very hostile. At the same time, we see in these cables that every country has its own pragmatic foreign policies; this is indisputable reality.

Conclusion...

Firstly, we should understand very well that when some secret documents are released, we should focus on targeted aims rather than indicated aims because the history shows us that this type of documents always have different aims than we guess.

As Michel Chossudovsky says, “the leaked cables are used to feed the disinformation campaign concerning Iran's Weapons of Mass Destruction. While the leaked cables are heralded as "evidence" that Iran constitutes a threat, the lies and fabrications of the corporate media concerning Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program are not mentioned, nor is there any mention of them in the leaked cables.”

In addition to this, according to Chossudovsky, there are two related myths which serve to uphold by the corporate media's use and interpretation of the Wikileaks cables:

“1) Iran has nuclear weapons program and constitutes a threat to global security.

2) Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are state sponsors of Al Qaeda. They are financing Islamic terrorist organizations which are intent upon attacking the US and its NATO allies.”

Actuallay, I do not agree with Chossudovsky in his second myth to some extend because I think if Saudi Arabia will continue its good relations with the U.S., it will be always America’s orbit. So, I think, here, main problem is Iran. US wants to shape New World Order under its leadership, but the main obstacle in the region for its aims is Iran. So, I prefer to read these cables in terms of Middle East context rather than innocent freedom movements/theories. And I want to remind you Mohieddin Sajedi’s questions again: “Is the United States planning to introduce a new form of diplomacy whereby it reveals the rifts between seemingly friendly governments and reveals their secret enemies in the hopes of making Washington an indispensible ally?

Or is this an independent move on the part of hackers seeking to redefine the boundaries of politics and security? The answers may never emerge but the questions themselves demand close scrutiny.”

As you know that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran's relations with neighbours would not be hurt by reports based on information provided by website Wikileaks. "Some part of the American government produced these documents," he said. "We don't think this information was leaked. We think it was organised to be released on a regular basis and they are pursuing political goals."

On the other hand, according to Muqtedar Khan, from Today’s Zaman Newspaper, the revelations so far about the Muslim world are eye opening.

But, in my opinion, actually, the Muslim world should open their eyes for American plans over Middle East. Although Obama has tried to stick together Israel’s orbit, his semphatic speeches for the Muslim world have created discomfort for neo-cons. Meybe, reading a picture from this perspective can be more meaningful for Muslim countries. Iran, Turkey, Syria or any other Muslim country should understand that if they are a side of injustice and oppression regime of America, they will be victim of American imperialism. Especially the roles of Turkey and Syria are very crucial. If they behave pragmatic in the name of their interests and they cooperate with Israel and America, not only Iran but also all Muslim countries will be exposed to American oppressions.

We advice Turksih diplomats and leaders to keep away this fire pit and to take a lesson from the release of these leaks in the light of foresight.