Three weeks following the 2 September release of the full archive of 251,287 U.S. embassy cables, articles based on the cables continue to be published at a high rate. A few of the articles this week use the cables as a reference for putting current events in context, as opposed to focal points for new stories. Such articles are an integral part of the briefing, but new information from the cables is emphasized.
U.S. perspectives on foreign domestic affairs^
Wikileaks Ethiopia Files^
|Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, was struck by a string of mysterious bombings in 2006. Photo by Andrew Heavens.|
Ethiopia Bombs Itself, Blames Eritrea: A cable shows that the detonation of three bombs in Ethiopia in 2006, which has previously been blamed on the Eritrean group Oromo Liberation Front, may in fact have been the work of Ethiopian security forces, Pravda and Foreign Policy report. The revelation undermines official U.S. descriptions of Eritrea as a terrorist country. It also raises serious doubts about a recent UN report making similar claims.
International violence, drug trafficking, and abuse^
U.S. called on Guatemala not to torture: A U.S. ambassador in 2003 criticized Guatemalan Minister of Defense Robin Moran for the torturing of suspects in relation to a drug seizure in 2003. He pointed out that the military had planted drugs on the three detained persons.
25% of murders in Guatemala extra-judicial killings: According to the director of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, 25 % of the murders that took place during the government of Óscar Berger and the previous one of Álvaro Colom were in fact part of efforts at social cleansing. The is the highest figure ever given for extra-judicial killings during the period, but according to the Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Guatemala, it may well be accurate.
WikiLeaked U.S. Cables Paint Portrait of Brutal, Ineffectual and Polluting UN Force: U.S diplomatic cables shed light on the poorly handled occupation of Haiti by the UN. The number of casualties has exponentially increased as a result of the improperly trained UN Stabilization Mission (MINUSTAH). Scientific studies also suggest the cholera epidemic that has seriously affected the Haitian population was brought by Nepalese UN troops.
Cables provide context to anti-MINUSTAH backlash in the wake of scandals: Haitian president René Préval in 2008 suggested that the mandate of the highly controversial UN-led MINUSTAH troops in the country could be changed so that it would require the acceptance of the Haitian government. This, the U.S. ambassador wrote, was “a terrible idea which opens a Pandora’s box of issues better left closed,” Recent revelations of abuses by MINUSTAH troops have caused an outrage in the country.
Ghana government failures in anti-drug trafficking: Embassy cables from Ghana report that instead of supporting the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) efforts to help arrest the drug baron Eric Amoateng, the government had removed all high ranking officials on the board after the arrest. Some NACOB officials expressed their frustration with the NPP government in failing to deal with known infiltration of drug barons in the NACOB .
Cable shows Indian Clean Development Mechanism scam: An official of the Member Secretary of India’s National Clean Development Mechanism Authority – responsible for carbon reduction program that is part of the Kyoto protocol – said that the authority took developers “at their word”, rather than verifying requirements were met.
Cables shed light on reasons former Venezuela Minister of Commerce Eduardo Saman ousted from office: In an interview with Eduardo Saman, Apporea inquires about Saman’s proposed intellectual property reform, which a cable reports was so radical that a Venezuelan legal consultant said it had “no chance” of being passed. Saman said that his bill would not have violated the World Trade Organization agreement that Venezuela was party to, but that it would help allow public access to patented medicine by making patents public and having the products be produced in Venezuela. The cables also reveal that the U.S. ambassador knew of Saman’s dismissal before he himself was notified.
Oil dispute in the South China Sea; cables reveal China’s influence: India has recently moved to secure exploration rights for its state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corps (ONGC) in the South China Sea, but China has claimed that the area is its sovereign territory. Cables reveal that China has already warned ONGC about infringing upon the territory, as well as other international oil and gas companies such Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Gazprom, and Santos. China was also apparently behind BP’s exit from South China Sea waters in 2007.
Cables report Saudi Arabia funding terrorism in the Philippines: A few cables reference Saudi Arabia financing al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups through donations to mosques and orphanages in the Philippines. Another cable accused the Saudi Ambassador to the Philippines of interfering for the release of Saudi nationals arrested for being suspected of funding terrorists.
U.S. diplomats claimed in 2006 that Belarus helped Iran bypass UN sanctions by developing anti-aircraft missile and nuclear capabilities: Other cables state that Belarus bypassed the UN sanctions by signing a military cooperation agreement with Sudan.
2010 cable reveals that the U.S. monitored Bolivia President Evo Morales in Peru: U.S. Ambassador McKinley accused Morales of attacking the Peruvian government and urging indigenous Peruvians to rebel.
Taiwan representative to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation approved by China: China is reluctant to grant Taiwan international space, although it has showed restraint in order to maintain relations, according to Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits Vice Chairman Sun Yafu.
Former Nigerian House of Representatives member Saudatu A. Sani bought her party nomination: Party primaries are the most corrupt part of the election process, she said.
Bangladesh Nobel peace prize laureate Yunus wanted Khaleda, Hasina exiled: 2007 Nobel peace prize laureate and founder of Grameen Bank Muhammad Yunus praised the government of Bangladesh, but stressed that the two politicians Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia must be removed.
Germany as Russia’s Trojan horse: Speaking in 2008, Polish Foreign Minister Sikorsky argued that Germany was seeing to Russia’s interests with regards to NATO in exchange for large business deals. Shortly thereafter, Germany opposed the inclusion of Georgia and Ukraine in NATO’s Membership Action Plan, following which Russia’s war with Georgia broke out.
WikiLeaks: Singapore’s Nuclear Energy Ambition: While Singapore has expressed its desire to exploit nuclear energy in February 2010 at the Economic Strategy Committee, Wikileaks cables reveal the government was already considering the use of nuclear power in November 2008.
Australia cap-and-trade system for reducing carbon emissions only possible through nuclear energy?: A cable reports a 2008 meeting between U.S. and Australian officials in which the director-general of Australian Safeguards and Non-proliferation Office John Carlson told then prime minister Kevin Rudd that the only way a cap-and-trade system could be introduced would be through nuclear energy.
- Blackberry-maker Reasearch in Motion canceled 300,000 USD sponsorship of Venezuela musical when it could not control advertisements (also reported here)
- U.S. anxiety as Turkey moves to become more powerful leader in the Middle East
- Various Venezuela cables describe journalist exchange with U.S. and Venezuelan perspective on the 2009 Honduras coup d’état
- South Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement considered rice imports a separate issue
- Cables report that the two biggest political parties in Zambia plagued with inefficiency and infighting
- Iraqi cleric seen dragged to Muqtada al-Sadr’s office before being hacked to death
Reactions and Impact^
Numerous articles have been published reporting the reactions of high-profile authorities, politicians, and ordinary citizens to findings in the cables. Many of these reactions are simply individuals’ opinions on what the cable information has to offer, according to their own interests. Nonetheless, it is interesting to record the wide spectrum of responses. It bears reminding that a perhaps more profound impact stemming from the embassy cables release cannot be documented in any single article or case. Rather, the archive’s full breadth of utility as a reference to journalists, historians, and the general public will have incremental consequences now and in the future.
Scores protest against U.S. ‘interference’ in domestic affairs: On September 14th Jordanians protested in front of the U.S. embassy in Jordan in reaction to intrusive policies, as revealed by recent cable releases. According to the cables, “senior Jordanian officials, diplomats and columnists of Palestinian origin urged the U.S. to put pressure on the government to take measures to absorb Palestinian refugees within Jordanian society”.
Lloyd’s of London sues Saudi Arabia for financing 9/11, using cables as evidence: Lloyd’s of London, an insurance syndicate, is demanding compensation for the 215 million USD it payed to victims of the 9/11 attacks. The complaint files quotes extensively from U.S. embassy cables, and purports to establish connections between the Saudi government, Saudi charities, and al-Qa’ida.
U.S. Ambassador who authored leaked assessments of Gadhafi’s personal life returns to Libya to reopened embassy: A 2009 cable recently revealed Ambassador Gene Cretz’ evaluation of Gadhafi before the revolution, but the Ambassador has returned to Tripoli to oversee the new American embassy as Libya rebuilds its government.
Rwanda: Wikileaks Portrays the Leak in Our Media: An opinion piece claims that Rwandan cables give an accurate description of the Rwandan media, which is depicted as incompetent more than persecuted. He thus accounts for the lack of press coverage the WikiLeaks cables have received in Rwanda.
Jordanians protest against US ‘interference’ in domestic affairs: Following the release of cables showing U.S. efforts to make Jordan absorb Palestinian refugees, protesters called the U.S. to stop meddling in the country’s internal affairs.
Wikileaks revelations could spark Nigerian separatist movements: Revelations of widespread corruption, in particular in the country’s oil sector, have given rise to calls for sovereign national conference in several parts of the country.
Calls for investigation into 2007 elections in Nigeria: A number of revelations indicating corruption in surrounding the 2007 in Nigeria have prompted the group Integrity in Governance Alliance (IGA) to call for an official investigation. The cables have confirmed a general distrust in all political parties.
After WikiLeaks scolding, top official says excess vice ministers are out: Following the publication of cables pointing out the large number of government officials in the Dominican Republic, president Leonel Fernandez has ordered a rationalization process in ministries.
- Former Uganda Health Minister confirms reported meetings with U.S. officials from cables
- Former Ghana Attorney General brushes off corruption accusations stemming from cables
- Ghana ex-president John Kufuor denies hatching an assassination plot against Raymond Archer, Editor of the Enquirer newspaper
- Romania President Traian Basescu responds to 2008 cable citing his concerns of military conflict with Russia
- Opinion piece on US Foreign Policy and Interference in local politics in Sierra Leone
U.S. involvement in foreign domestic affairs and concern for U.S. Interests^
U.S. attempts to minimize global movement to ban cluster munitions: Information from cables and U.S. officials show that the U.S. contacted over 100 countries to talk about the Convention on Cluster Munitions. In Afghanistan in 2008, before the country signed the treaty banning cluster munitions, American officials emphasized that the weapons were essential to their ability to protect soldiers, even though the weapons were rarely used.
Secret U.S. drone bases carrying out lethal attacks in Africa: The U.S. has expanded its drone installations in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, broadening its range to combat al-Qaeda linked groups in Somalia and Yemen. Cables show that the small fleet of drones stationed in the Republic of Seychelles since September 2009 have flown in anti terrorism missions over Somalia, contrary to public statements by U.S.
Pakistan: Asif Ali Zardari said win in presidential elections was due to US support: In another article, he said he would negotiate with India if the U.S. would support such a move.
UN Declaration Raised US Fears Over Indigenous Land Rights, Sovereignty, Anti-Free Market Movements: U.S. was concerned of Bolivian move towards land reform, and the example it set for Peru.
Finance minister Tendai Biti sought the removal of three banks on the United States sanctions list: The ambassador, who argued the request should be met, said the minister was planning to privatize part of the banks.
- Guyana-Venezuela border issues impediment to U.S. interests in Guyana
- U.S. Ambassador points out Armenian American Diaspora communities could be used for U.S. embassy outreach work
- WikiLeaks sheds light on US-Jordan nuclear rift
The U.S. and Human Rights^
|Cleanup after the hurricane in Cuba. Flickr/lensman888|
U.S. official snubbed Cuban plea for hurricane aid: Following the hurricane on Cuba in 2009 which made 200,000
people homeless, a Cuban official indicated to a U.S. coastguard that the country might be interested in aid from the U.S. In response, he was told that “the USG is not in the business of writing blank checks to foreign governments.”
2006 prison death of Turkmenistan journalist still not investigated: A cable from 2006 contains the already-known fact that the U.S. embassy was key to the recovery of journalist and activist Ogulsapar Muradova’s body, which showed evidence of torture. The photos of her body have still not been released by the U.S. embassy, but another cable from 2008 shows that the U.S. privately raised the issue of harassment of journalists to Turkmenistan officials.
UN Special Rapporteur urged U.S. government to intervene in Troy Davis case: Troy Davis, accused of murder in 1989, was executed 21 September despite 7 of 9 witnesses recanting their testimony for his case and worldwide rallies in support of his innocence. An embassy cable reveals that UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston wrote to the U.S. Mission in Geneva in 2008 to express concern over the “risk of injustice” that would possibly occur if the U.S. government did not take action.