Leaked cables reveal Arab concerns about Iran

Thursday, December 2, 2010 | by ron kampeas

Iran and Israeli-Arab peace are two issues that crop up quite often in the WikiLeaks cables published this week. Here are some of the highlights:

• January 2008 classified message from U.S. Embassy in Cairo to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice: Omar Suleiman, director of Egyptian General Intelligence, is quoted as telling Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) that Iran “is supporting jihad and spoiling peace, and has supported extremists in Egypt previously.” Iranian support of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood makes them “our enemy,” Suleiman says.

• January 2009 letter from U.S. ambassador in Cairo to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton: After talking to Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the ambassador is positive that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak sees Iran as Egypt’s “greatest long-term threat, both as it develops a nuclear capability and as it seeks to export its ‘Shia Revolution’ ” and that “Mubarak hates Hamas, and considers them the same as Egypt’s own Muslim Brotherhood, which he sees as his own most dangerous political threat.”

• January 2007 letter from Dubai consul general to Rice: In a meeting with Nicholas Burns, a State Department undersecretary, the emirate’s leader, Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, “agreed that Iran should not have nuclear weapons, but warned of the dire regional consequences of military action.” In addition, Dubai agreed to cooperate in financial restrictions against Iran, but only if it is done quietly. The Dubai leader also said he hoped for a peace deal because it “would make Hamas everyone’s enemy.”

• March 2009 cable: Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah is quoted as having told John Brennan, Obama’s counterterrorism adviser in Washington, that he had just finished a telephone conversation with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and scolded him that Iran should “stop interfering in Arab affairs.” The king adds: “A solution to the Arab/Israeli conflict would be a great achievement, the king said, but Iran would find other ways to cause trouble,” the cable reported. “‘Iran’s goal is to cause problems,’ he continued, ‘There is no doubt something unstable about them.’”

• May 2009 cable after a meeting between an American congressional delegation and Ehud Barak, Israel’s defense minister: Barak stresses that “no option should be removed from the table when confronting Iran and North Korea” and that Iran will “look to Pakistan and North Korea as models to emulate in terms of acquiring nuclear weapons while defying the international community.”

• March 2005 cable after a meeting in Tel Aviv between Mossad chief Meir Dagan and then-Sen. Jon Corzine (D-N.J.): Dagan’s concerns about the fallout from the end of the Iraq War are noted. “Foreign fighters originating from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Syria and Yemen have arrived back in their home countries” after fighting together in Iraq, Dagan is cited as saying.

• Classified document from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow: A thorough description of the life and culture of Dagestan, a republic in the North Caucasus, includes notes on the Jewish community. A special reference is made to the chief rabbi in the Stavropol-Krai area, describing him as “a man who looked like Shamil Basayev,” a Chechen Islamist terrorist, “on his day off — flip-flops, T-shirt, baseball cap, beard. … He told us he has 12,000 co-religionists in the province, 8,000 of them in its capital, Pyatigorsk. 70 percent are, like him, Persian-speaking Mountain Jews; the rest are a mixture of Europeans, Georgians and Bukharans.”