The Saudi Cables: Revelations from Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Lebanon, Sudan & Egypt

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WikiLeaks announced it would publish half a million cables and other documents from Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry last week. It released nearly 70,000 files, which the organization’s publisher Julian Assange said would “lift the lid on an increasingly erratic and secretive dictatorship.”

The files, in Arabic, have mostly received a minimal amount attention in the United States press. However, multiple independent journalists around the world have been translating the documents to uncover revelations.

Ali Hadi Al-Musawi, who blogs at 1001 Iraqi Thoughts, sifted through the files for important documents on Saudi Arabia’s influence in Iraq.

“A quick scan of the available documents that relate to Iraq reveal three consistent approaches adopted by the Kingdom in an effort to extend its influence in the country,” Al-Musawi wrote. “Financial and political support for Sunni Arab tribes, politicians, and Kurdish actors that are willing to undermine the central government in Baghdad; close communication with Baath Party officers, financial support, and political asylum for families of high-ranking former officials; and regional diplomatic efforts aimed at undermining the sovereign legitimacy of the Iraqi state.”

Significantly, Al-Musawi called attention to a “three-stage plan” proposed by Saudi Arabia to “co-opt” Sunni Arab tribes and Iraqi politicians.

“The stated goal is to undermine the government of Prime Minister al-Maliki and nurture assets that are sympathetic to Saudi Arabia’s policies in Iraq,” Al-Musawi reported. “The cable recommends close coordination between the Kingdom’s foreign ministry and intelligence agency, and suggests inviting co-opted Iraqis on a regular basis to the Kingdom in order to ‘strengthen relations and exchange views and information.’”

A group of anonymous individuals in Yemen are examining the documents for revelations about Saudi Arabia and their country. The group uncovered a cable that shows the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs order the “transfer of $100,000″ to the Saudi mission to the United Nations for a “campaign” to win a seat on the Human Rights Council.

One memo marked “highly confidential and urgent” from Minister of Foreign Affairs Saud al-Faisal and addressed to the Crown Prince suggests the war being waged in Yemen may have something to do with an oil pipeline to the Yemen coast. It referred to a special Saudi commission’s effort to find a naval port for the Kingdom in the Arabian sea through Oman or Yemen. The commission was “made up of senior level members from the Ministries of Interior, defense, foreign affairs, finance, oil and mineral resources, transportation, economy and planning, as well as the presidency of the General Intelligence.”

The Saudi Embassy also alleged in a 2012 report that Qatar paid Sheikh Hamid al-Ahmar $250 million to “foment rebellion in the Yemeni army and to prevent the 2012 presidential election of Abd Rabbo Mansour Haddi.”

Al-Ahmar is a prominent businessman and political leader in Yemen. His name actually appears in the cache of US diplomatic cables released by Chelsea Manning and published by WikiLeaks.

In a cable marked confidential from May 13, 2009, “Yemen: Troubled by Southern Unrest, Business Community Supports Unity”:

…Hamid al-Ahmar, Islah Party leader and prominent businessman (REF B), told Econoff on May 4 that the ROYG’s [Yemen government’s] lack of success in quelling the Southern Movement derived from Saleh,s military mindset. Ahmar claimed he met with Saleh prior to the April 27 demonstrations to caution him against responding to the protestors with force. “I told Saleh to let the masses march; what’s the worst they can do? He told me that they (the Southern Movement) only understand force.”…

…Ahmar, son of the late powerful tribal leader Sheikh Abdullah al-Ahmar, said that Saleh’s power over the tribes in the south had waned in the past year, pointing to the recent refusal of several (NFI) tribal leaders from Abyan, Aden, and Lahj to attend a meeting called by Saleh the week before the April 27 demonstrations. Ahmar claimed that such a show of disrespect to the president would have been unthinkable one year ago.

Another cable from February 18, 2009, “Hamid Al-Ahmar on Saleh, Oil, and Elections,” shows Al-Ahmar blamed Saleh for the “country’s problems, especially widespread corruption.” US ambassador Stephen Seche described Al-Ahmar as a “ruthless businessman.”

Zeineb Marzouk at Tunisia-Live.Net has gone through documents for revelations on Tunisia. The files show the Tunisian government uncovered more oil but has kept the location secret. Saudi officials considered bribing “influential Tunisian media organizations in the hopes of keeping ‘cultural’ ties between broadcasters and the Gulf state.”

“A cable sent by Saudi officials speaks of the importance of becoming close to new Islamic governments while stating that forces that came to power in Tunisia, Egypt and others may constitute a source of concern and inconvenience for the Kingdom,” Marzouk additionally reported.

A Tumblr, Of Rinji And Roodhi, has been examining documents for revelations on Somalia. One cable translated asserts Somalia will be divided between Kenya and Ethiopia.

“Somalia has become a fertile ground for the interest of a lot of countries,” the cable outlines. “At the current moment in time, there are a number of countries in Somalia, some of whom have noticeable pull.”

Kenya is said to have trained young men from the areas around Kismayo to help them win allies. The country has entered Somalia to help the government “fight terrorism.” It further alleges the country will be split into “four regions”—two that will belong to Kenya, two that will belong to Ethiopia.

A memo provides a glimpse at how far Saudi Arabia will go to ensure Somalia adheres to positions in line with the Kingdom. A Somalia delegate is scolded for not voting on a resolution on the humanitarian situation in Syria like Saudi Arabia had wanted.

At Moulahazat.com, Lebanese blogger Ramez Dagher has been examining files related to Lebanon. Significantly, a post from Dagher calls attention to proof that Lebanese politicians, including presidential candidates, received Saudi funds. They provided money to leaders from a political party known as the Lebanese Forces, which was a Christian militia in the Lebanese Civil War and is one of the most prominent Christian parties in Lebanon’s parliament.

The Sudan Tribune, based in Paris, uncovered a document suggesting the Saudi government had been aware of a “joint plot by the Egyptian and Sudanese intelligence to assassinate South Sudan president Salva Kiir.”

“According to one of the cables, the embassy was made aware of three Egyptian intelligence officers who were dispatched by Cairo and are staying in Garden City neighbourhood,” the news site reported. “The goal is to formulate a plan with Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) to assassinate Kiir and an unidentified number of his aides, the undated cable said.”

The Daily News Egypt report on documents allegedly showing Saudi Arabia aimed to use “Egyptian media outlets to counter negative media” after the January 25 uprising. The Saudi Foreign Ministry was concerned about media being “driven by public opinion” and worried about maintaining a hold over Egyptians.

The government put together detailed lists, which “name editors of Egyptian media outlets invited to cultural events in Saudi Arabia or to the annual Hadj, among them editors and their deputies from Al-Ahram, Al-Gomhuria, Akhbar Al-Youm, Al-Akhbar and various other media outlets.” Officials even tracked journalists and discussed how to get them in line with Saudi policies or what needed to be done to counter their influence.

Multiple outlets covered a “top secret” memo suggesting Saudi Arabia was ready to pay $10 million to have former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak freed from prison.

The Associated Press reported on a memo from February 2012 showing Saudi diplomats offered Saudi students flights home to avoid being arrested or deported from the United states. The offer came after they became embroiled in a cheating scandal at Montana Tech.

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