Arab leaders urged US to attack Iran, says WikiLeaks


MIDDLE EASTERN leaders, including the Saudi Arabian king, have repeatedly urged the United States to launch military attacks on Iran to prevent it making nuclear weapons, according to the first round of disclosures published last night from 250,000 US intelligence documents leaked to WikiLeaks by a US soldier.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah “frequently exhorted” Washington “to cut off the head of the snake”, according to an account of a meeting held between the king and US general David Petraeus in April 2008, while Israel warned the US in June 2009 that there were just six to 18 months left to stop Tehran acquiring nuclear weapons.

Warning then that urgent action was necessary, Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak said that military action delayed beyond that time would “result in unacceptable collateral damage”.

The threat now posed by Tehran in the Middle East is illustrated by the decision of leaders in Saudi, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt to describe Iran as “evil”, or “an existential threat”, or a country that “is going to take us to war” in their contacts with US diplomats, which were subsequently relayed to Washington, and now leaked.

Meanwhile, the leaked diplomatic cables are also said to include ones detailing Washington and London concerns about Pakistan’s ability to ensure its nuclear missiles remain in official hands; allegations about links between senior Russian politicians and organised crime and claims that a member of the British royal family had acted “inappropriately”.

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton and senior US diplomats have spent the last few days briefing foreign capitals about the embassy cables, believing that many of them will include unflattering references to their past and present leaders, including the UK’s former prime minister Gordon Brown and his successor, David Cameron.

German chancellor Angela Merkel is described in the cables by one diplomat as someone who “avoids risk, and is rarely creative”; Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai is “driven by paranoia”; Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin is an “alpha-dog”, while President Dmitry Medvedev is “afraid” and “hesitant”, according to early sight of the documents.

Describing the leaking as “reckless and dangerous” and desperate to curtail the diplomatic damage, Mrs Clinton last night said “field reporting” by US diplomats to Washington is, by its very nature, “candid” and often contains “incomplete information”. It is not an expression of policy, nor does it always shape final policy decisions.

The Guardianand the New York Timeswill not publish all of the documents received from WikiLeaks, which claimed that its own website was facing cyber-attack last night. The Guardiansaid “domestic libel laws impose a special burden on British publishers”. Defending the publication decision, the New York Timessaid the cables “tell the unvarnished story of how the government makes its biggest decisions.

“They shed light on the motivations – and, in some cases, duplicity – of allies on the receiving end of American courtship and foreign aid.

“They illuminate the diplomacy surrounding two current wars and several countries, like Pakistan and Yemen, where American military involvement is growing. As daunting as it is to publish such material over official objections, it would be presumptuous to conclude that Americans have no right to know what is being done in their name,” said the newspaper.

The cables, allegedly originating from a US army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning, who is now facing a court-martial, include 910 from the US embassy in Dublin to Washington, dating back to 1985. The most recent was sent in February, though, so far, no details are known about the contents of any of the messages.