Sunday, November 28, 2010

Wikileaks Confirm Our Analysis of U.S. Policy and Middle East Politics

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By Barry Rubin

Please forgive me for saying this, but what really amazed me in reading the Wikileaks was how thoroughly they proved points I’ve been making for years. I wouldn’t have had the nerve to say that except that readers have been telling me the same thing.

1. Iran steadily smuggled arms to Hizballah using various means including in ambulances and medical vehicles during the 2006 war. This violates the laws of war. At times, the media has condemned Israel for attacking ambulances though it showed Hamas was also using such vehicles for military and arms-smuggling operations. Moreover, the postwar UN force proved consistently ineffective in stopping smuggling while the U.S. government did not denounce Iran, Syria, and Hizballah for breaking the ceasefire arrangements.

2. Israeli leaders have repeatedly made clear in diplomatic discussions their acceptance of a two-state solution but warned that the Palestinian leadership sought Israel’s destruction.

3. Arab states have constantly been warning the United States about the threat from Iran as their highest priority, even urging the United States to attack Iran itself. Note that Arab leaders did not condition their oppositon to Iran or call for a U.S. attack on settling the Arab-Israeli or Israel-Palestinian conflicts. This is contrary to what Administration officials, academia, and parts of the mass media who argue these issues are basically linked and that is why the conflicts must be "solved"  before doing much else. As I've told you, the Arab regimes worry first and foremost about Iran and have greatly downgraded their interest in the conflict or antagonism toward Israel.

Here's what Raymond Bonner, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, wrote on this subject:

 "Sure, we knew that Middle East governments were concerned about Iran. But we didn't know to what degree. The cumulative impact of these cables is profound.... ...This the same chilling language, which the American public is accustomed to hearing from hardline Israeli officials. Hearing it expressed by Muslim leaders in the Middle East might now have a profound effect on American public opinion."

4. Iran and North Korea cooperated to provide Tehran with long-rang missiles that were shipped to Hizballah.

5. One week after President Bashar al-Asad promised a top State Department official that he would not send “new” arms to Hizballah, the United States complained that it had information that Syria was providing increasingly sophisticated weapons to the group. Yet the U.S. government did not take strong action and continues its ill-fated engagement with Damascus . 

(Reminds me of how Bashar promised the Bush Administration that he would stop buying oil from Iran in violation of UN sanctions but continued doing so; and how Yasir Arafat promised that he had nothing to do with terrorism and arms smuggling from Iran and then was shown to have lied. Is there a pattern here?)

6. Israel has been warning the United States about how Iran obtaining nuclear weapons would destabilize the region, not just create a danger of an Iranian attack on Israel.

7. U.S. Officials in Turkey think that the current government is in fact an Islamist one, though the U.S. government (and media) keeps insisting it is some kind of democratic-reform-minded centrist regime.

8. The U.S. government ignored repeated pleas from Israel to press Egypt to block smuggling of military equipment into the Gaza Strip.

Here are some sources for the raw materials:

US Cables on Iran:

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at and of his blog, Rubin Reports,

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