30/06/2015

Wikileaks and the Saudi diplomacy

On June 19th, WikiLeaks launched « the Saudi cables » operation by publishing nearly 60,000 documents from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These documents, which are mostly Arabic notes send to Saudi embassies worldwide, reveal much about the kingdom diplomacy.

On a regional scale, these notes reveal the degree of intervention of the Saudi kingdom into other Arab regimes. Lebanese, Egyptians, Yemenis, Syrians and Libyans are directly affected by these documents that impact in their internal affairs. We learn for example that Saudi Arabia is financing several Lebanese politicians in exchange for their alignment with the diplomatic line of the kingdom. In the current context of post Arab Spring recomposition, the Saudi intervention is primarily motivated by a desire to assert its influence, financial and religious, and to counter Iran and its allies, including the Syria. The Saudi Cables also reveal how the Wahhabi kingdom attempted to negotiate with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood the release of former President Hosni Mubarak, against $ 10 billion.

More generally, these documents reveal the extent of the « checkbook diplomacy » led by Saudi Arabia, which does not hesitate to spend billions to create allies and to improve its image, thanks to the « neutralization » of Medias. Indeed, the kingdom would not hesitate to influence Arab and Western media in exchange of financial aid. In the context of that war of influence with Iran, the Wahhabi kingdom deploys all necessary means to beautify his media image. In these circumstances it is not surprising that the Egyptian television channel ONTV has recently renounced to invite a Saudi opponent. Another Egyptian journalist would have received this year the equivalent of 1,200 euros for publishing an article on the occasion of the Saudi National Day. This control over the media prevents us from obtaining any objective information about the kingdom. Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, explains on its website that « Saudi Arabia has just celebrated its 100th decapitation of a prisoner in 2015 but the information was never reported by a single Arab media and the international media have remained silent on this record ».

One of the last point revealed by these documents, and that caught the attention of the international press, is the lifestyle led by the Saudi elite, especially by the royal family. A cable reveals the existence of an invoice over one million euros, representing the unpaid bill for one of the princess to a Swiss company for luxury taxis.

Faced with these publications, the Saudi authorities have spoken to prevent the spread of these documents « that could be false. » The spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, Mr Osama naqli, has issued a statement last Sunday in which he states that the Kingdom « will not allow the enemies of the state to share or publish » these documents, that « were made crudely. » The Department also initiated an investigation and warned that it would launch proceedings against persons involved in the leak. The Saudi reaction is equal to the damaging effects that could cause the cables, besides WikiLeaks announced they are planning to publish a total of approximately 500,000 notes linked to Saudi diplomacy. The privileged relationship between the kingdom and the United States, which is already going against serious difficulties since several years, may be re-tested by the diffusion of these cables.