Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday accused the United States of orchestrating WikiLeaks’ Sunday release of more than 250,000 internal State Department cables, some of which suggest that Arab leaders fear Iran’s nuclear program and regional influence.
“The material was not leaked but rather released in an organized way,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said, adding that the WikiLeaks “game” is “not worth commenting upon and that no one would waste their time reviewing them.”
“The U.S. administration released them, and based on them, they pass judgment. … [The documents] have no legal value and will not have the political effect they seek,” he said.
“Cablegate,” as it already is being called, contained numerous revelations ranging from State Department orders for U.S. diplomats to act as de-facto intelligence agents to the role of the Chinese Politburo in the cyber attack on Google.
But none garnered more headlines than the unusually blunt language many Arab leaders used in private to discuss Iran.
One April 2008 cable from Riyadh speaks of Saudi King Abdullah’s “frequent exhortations to the U.S. to attack Iran and so put an end to its nuclear weapons program [or to] cut off the head of the snake,” as the monarch is quoted as saying.
Another, from Cairo in March 2009, says that Egyptian President Hosni “Mubarak has a visceral hatred for the Islamic Republic, referring repeatedly to Iranians as ‘liars,’ and denouncing them for seeking to destabilize Egypt and the region.”
An April 2009 cable from Amman notes that “[t]he metaphor most commonly deployed by Jordanian officials when discussing Iran is of an octopus whose tentacles reach out insidiously to manipulate, foment, and undermine the best laid plans of the West and regional moderates.”
The cables also report that leaders of small Gulf states, such as Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, have — like the Saudi king — urged military action against Iran. The prime minister of Qatar, one Gulf state with closer ties to Tehran, is quoted in a December 2009 missive from Doha as describing his country’s relationship with the Iranians as one in which “[t]hey lie to us, and we lie to them.”
Mr. Ahmadinejad shrugged off the reported comments, saying that “the countries in the region are like friends and brothers.”
“These acts of mischief,” he said, referring to WikiLeaks, “will not affect their relations.”
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Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.
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