Cables show US concerns over closer Iran-Nicaragua relations. US considers Italy its main European base for projecting military power toward the Middle East and North Africa. Cables also focus on Ukrainian energy minister involved in the creation of the gas giant RusUkrEnergo, and the Chinese government’s concerns about human rights lawsuits against leaders. Cables also quoted former Ukrainian Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko as acknowledging that the privatization of certain enterprises was illegal.
US intervention and influence^
Ahmadinejad in Managua: WikiLeaks reveals U.S. fears of Nicaraguan-Iranian rapprochement: As Iran faces increasingly stringent sanctions, President Ahmedinejad is seeking to improve diplomatic and economic ties with with countries in South America, including Nicaragua. While cables show that the US as late as 2006 was confident of support from Nicaragua on the issue of Iran, Ortega’s re-election in 2006 sparked fears that the country would adopt an more independent position. By 2007, the US and other countries were pressuring Nicaragua to distance itself from Venezuela and Iran. Rather than being mainly about the issue of Iran, the US opposition to improved Iran-Nicaragua relations may in fact mainly have been a part of an effort to retain economic influence over Nicaragua, the Huffington Post writes.
The US funds Arab NGOs via Morocco: A State Department cable from 30 April 2009 discusses an instance where funds were transferred to an Egyptian human rights organization via the Morocco-based Center for Press Freedom. The funding was awarded as part of former President George W. Bush’s Middle East Partnership Initiative. The initiative has spent over 530 million US dollars across 17 countries in the Middle East.
US moves to revive Greece-Macedonia talks: US Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Reeker will call on Macedonia to resume negotiations with Greece over a decades-long conflict concerning the name “Macedonia,” which Greece says implies a claim to one of Greece’s northern provinces. Referring to this issue, Greece has blocked Macedonia from membership of NATO as well as the EU. Reeker in 2009 addressed the issue in a cable, saying that the “The trouble is that it is next to impossible that the GoG [Government of Greece] would ever agree to a document that would define the citizens of this country as ‘Macedonians’ or the language as ‘Macedonian’”.
Qatar, US diplomacy and a multicultural France: An extensive article on the foreign policy of Qatar describes how the small country is trying to increase its influence inside France, partly through funding social programs in poor suburbs. This, the article notes, mirrors a strategy also used by the US, outlined in a cable which notes that “Our aim is to engage the French population at all levels in order to amplify France’s efforts to realize its own egalitarian ideals, thereby advancing U.S. national interests.”
|Monsanto seed corn plant in White Pigeon, Michigan. Photo credit.|
Monsanto in the US and abroad: The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently approved the sale of genetically engineered Monsanto corn. Cables have shown that Monsanto has used its connections within the US government to influence diplomats to create a target list of countries which would not accept its products.
US military strategy and concerns^
Europe’s place in US’ global military strategy: The recently announced shift in US military priorities means that the US military presence in Europe will be centered around some ground troops in Germany and the Vicenza airbase in Italy. A cable sent from the US embassy in Rome says that “Italy remains our most important European ally for projecting military power into the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa.”
US restores full diplomatic ties with Myanmar: Following the announcement by President Obama that the US will increase its military focus on the Asia-Pacific region, the US has re-opened diplomatic relations with Myanmar. In addition to the hope that the move will distance Burma from the influence of China, the US is also seeking to address concerns that Myanmar might try to get nuclear weapons through the help of North Korea. According to a cable sent in 2004, hundreds of North Koreans were working on developing nuclear weapons in the Myanmar jungles.
Sri Lanka: Rajapaksa frequently contacted US Embassy with Mangala: Former Sri Lankan Percy Mahendra Rajapakse frequently contacted the US embassy in Colombo in the 1988-1989 period to report on disappearances and extra-judicial killings under the United National Party government.
Chinese Communist Party officials fear Falun Gong lawsuits: An article from the Indonesian online publication Erabaru, highlights State Department cables which focus on meetings between Chinese and US officials in which issues around the persecution of the Falun Gong are raised. Cables note that during seemingly unrelated meetings, Chinese officials would broach the subject of human rights lawsuits against Communist Party leadership, warning US officials that progress in bilateral agendas (for example on trade, economic policy, North Korea, etc) may be undermined by agitation from Falun Gong activists based in the US.
Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa scared of Sinhalese nationalist parties: A US State Department cable from April 2009 shows that Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was willing to offer amnesty to all LTTE (“Tamil Tigers”) fighters, except for Prabakharan and Intelligence Chief Pottu Amman, but hesitated to communicate the offer widely among LTTE ranks, fearing a loud and negative reaction by the Sinhalese nationalist parties (JHU, NFF and JVP). The Ambassador noted at the meeting that such an offer would remain ineffective without wider publicity.
US caution and criticism of Ukrainian political corruption: Kyiv Post reports on political corruption and crimes in Ukraine revealed in WikiLeaks cables. One February 2006 cable cited former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko, who “acknowledged that the privatization of certain enterprises, including Nikopol (Ferroalloy Plant) and Kryvorizhstal (steel plant)…were illegal.” Other cables said that no officials were prosecuted for 2004 election fraud.
Biya Deflects Criticism of Endless Lavish Trips: In September 2009, a scandal emerged over expenses paid at a French Hotel by Cameroon’s president Paul Biya (who has held the office since 1982) and his entourage, which were alleged to have amounted to around $40,000 US dollars per day (in Cameroon, the average annual income at the time was $1,000 per year). A cable written by US Ambassador Janet Garvey described Biya as “uncharacteristically active” since the scandal emerged, with Biya making the rounds at events as well as writing his first ever letter to the public, which the government paid to have placed on the front pages of Cameroon’s news papers, ostensibly to deflect attention away from the scandal, to show that “he’s still in charge, and to stave off post-Biya jockeying within his party and government.”
Boyko helped create RosUkrEnergo, nudging Yanukovych towards Russia: Ukrainian energy minister Boyko had a hand in the creation of RosUkrEnergo, an energy trading company co-owned by Russian gas giant Gazprom and Ukrainian billionaire Dmitry Firtash, according to a US embassy cable. The US embassy saw the company largely as a tool for Russian influence over the Ukraine. Other cables report that after the re-election of Prime Minister Yanukovych in 2006, Russia stepped up efforts to form closer ties with the Ukraine, and that several officials close to the prime minister were working to accelerate that development.
Is Angola plundering Congolese oil?: Angola has been exploiting oil fields off the coast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for years. These fields account for much of Angola’s production. A State Department cable from July 2007 discusses a draft agreement between Angola and the Congo to split profits from oil extracted from a 10km strip off the respective coasts. The agreement was not signed in the end, and tensions between the two countries have been rising ever since. According to cables, Angola would have owed up to USD 600 million in arrears for the use of the maritime Congolese territory. The Congo had applied to the UN to bring the issue to international arbitration, but agreed to hold off until 2014 in order to stave off escalating tensions between the two countries.
Senegal President Abdoulaye Wade’s international diplomacy: Jeune Afrique gives an overview of Senegalese President Wade’s 12 years in office and his various efforts at diplomacy abroad. WikiLeaks cables report that the President was obsessed with obtaining the Nobel Peace Prize.
US perspectives on governance and politics^
Sri Lanka: Gota and Basil are to provide political cover to Mahinda: According to the US ambassador to Colombo, writing in 2007, president Rajapaksa’s two brothers Basil Gothabaya – both of whom were government ministers – were given the role of taking unpopular decisions, so as to deflect criticism against the president.
Kenya Air Crash Exposes Cameroon Regime’s Ineptitude: When a Kenya Airways flight carrying 114 passengers crashed in Cameroon in May of 2007, the lack of a coordinated response from Cameroon’s government highlighted deep institutional problems. This cable written by then Ambassador Niels Marquardt shortly after the incident highlights the palpable lack of an urgent and effective response by Cameroon’s government, or even so much as clear public statements of condolences.
US describes Dominican president Leonel Fernández Reyna as “comfortable among the rich”: In a cable from Santo Domingo, the 28th in a series of cables on the Dominican presidential elections, former president and then candidate Leonel Fernández Reyna was described as “a pat, well-spoken policy wonk, cozy with the well off.”
- Sri Lanka: Rajapaksa trio powerful, but increasingly isolated
- Sri Lanka: President has more respect for Gota than for Basil
Reactions to WikiLeaks revelations^
PCCI chief denies WikiLeaks cable on Mike Arroyo: Chua, the president of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has rejected reports in US embassy cables that he said that the husband of former Phillippines president Arroyo, Jose Miguel Arroyo, was involved in corruption and illegal gambling. “I have always espoused proper governance, high standards of personal and business ethics in all my undertakings,” Chua claims.