Cables illuminate how Predator drones were used as political bargaining chips. Cables also show how the US shucked off costs for relocation of American military bases onto the South Korean government. Another story this week uncovers the case of a detained mentally-ill Canadian-Egyptian, whose whereabouts are still unknown. Recent stories based on cables also led to arrests of company chiefs in India.
Human Rights issues^
India Punjab police senior had assembled “Alam Sena” paramilitary force with carte blanche to kill: A 2005 cable confirms that former Senior Superintendent Punjab Police (Jalandhar) Mohammad Izhar Alam had gathered a personal paramilitary force of around 150 men known as the “Black Cats” or “Alam Sena”. The Alam Sena carried out mass human rights abuses, staging encounters in order to kill Sikh militants. The Secretary of Dal Khalsa has called for a probe into the Alam Sena’s wrongdoings. Izhar Alam is a potential candidate for Punjab Assembly elections with the ruling political party Shiromani Akali Dal.
Mentally ill Canadian citizen held in U.S.-run Afghanistan prison for over 18 months: Khaled Samy Abdallah Ismail, who has dual Egyptian Canadian passports, was detained and held by American military forces in Bagram in April 2006. Cables report that eight months later, Canadian officials visited him for the first time, but despite being assessed as a low-level threat and diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, it was another nine months before Canada started a plan to fly him back to Canada. Though CBC News has researched Ismail’s current whereabouts and found evidence of his planned transfer back to Canada, it is unknown whether he actually arrived.
U.S. abdicates responsibility for dealing with Uzbekistan human rights abuses: Although human rights groups internationally have strongly criticized state-sponsored child labor and lack of civil freedom in Uzbekistan, a U.S. embassy cable argues that implementing sanctions would only serve to worsen the situation. The comments from the embassy arose after the U.S. criticized a violent clampdown on protesters in 2005 which left hundreds dead. The Uzbek government subsequently halted the lease of its land to a U.S. military supply line to Afghanistan, and the embassy cable argues that sanctions will only serve to further cut Uzebekistan off from the West.
Philippine government clinics certify sex workers: “Many bars, hotels, and privately-operated social hygiene clinics work together to facilitate prostitution within their own business domains, each getting a cut that incentivizes their complicity,” a 2009 cable says. Selling support, Police help support the industry.
Zanu PF party members behind 2008 election violence in Zimbabwe: Several articles report that a few Zanu PF party members, disillusioned with the MDC-T party victory for Morgan Tsvangirai in March 2008, incited violence when they were certain there would not be a runoff between Tsvangirai and Mugabe. The MDC claimed that over 200 of their supporters died as a result.
Nigerian Colonel offered to kidnap Taylor for US: The colonel, who together with 35 other soldiers guarded the fugitive Liberian president, said he was willing to hand over Taylor to the U.S. at any time, in return for a payment. The cable reported that the colonel had mistaken a fund related to Charles Taylor as a bounty for his capture, the cable states.
- U.S. diplomats say Armenian demands in Georgia’s Javakhetia region were justified according to international law
Military and weapons issues^
Yemeni Government Contracted With U.N. Sanctioned Arms Dealer: A UN travel ban has been imposed on Serbian Slobodan Tesi for having smuggled arms into Liberia which are alleged to have been used in carrying out war crimes. Despite this,Tesi has nevertheless been able to continue selling arms to a number of countries, including Iraq and Libya. A cable shows the U.S. believed Yemen had signed a USD 95 million arms deal with Tesi in 2009. The cable suggests the country should instead choose to buy its weapons from the U.S.
Obama administration keeps quiet on sale of bunker-busting bombs to Israel: The Bush administration had delayed the sale of GBU-28 bunker-busting bombs to Israel over concerns that the move would be seen as a sign of approval for Israel to attack Iran. But the Obama administration went ahead with the sales in late 2009. A cable reports that the transfer was to be “handled quietly to avoid any allegations that the [U.S. government] is helping Israel prepare for a strike against Iran.”
|Predator drones manufactured by US firms have increasingly become political bargaining chips. Photo by Diablo Azul.|
Armed Predator drones to gain support for extending Canada’s Afghan mission: Montreal Gazette and Ottawa Citizen analyze a November 2007 cable in which Former Canadian deputy prime minister John Manley tried to negotiate with U.S. officials. Manley said that if armed Predator drones were given to Canada, he would be able to gain enough support from Liberals to extend the Canada’s Afghan combat mission. Manley was head of a panel recommending a course of action for Canada in Afghanistan after February 2009. The Predator drones asked for were ultimately not given to Canada, but the mission was extended and unarmed Israeli drones were brought instead.
South Korea relocation of US military bases: Yonhap News Agency, The Korea Times, and The Hankyoreh report on cables which show that South Korea agreed to pay over 90 percent of relocation costs for U.S. military bases, the total of which reached around 10 billion USD. South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense publicly announced that it would pay about half of the costs, and delayed informing the public when it was clear that closer to 93 percent would be shouldered by South Korea.
ISI paid Taliban to kill Indians in Kabul: An attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul on July 7, 2008 killing 41 people was carried out at the behest of ISI, the Afghan War Diaires say. Six days prior to the attack, a report was filed saying that there were plans for an attack, and that a budget had been ascribed to the operation.
Israel in secret military ops in Nigeria: Despite the absence of any formal cooperation agreement, Israeli military have provided training for Nigerian troops. The training has been carried out in secret, sometimes even without U.S. knowledge. According to the ambassador, the Nigerian Ministry of Defense was ‘very well-connected’ to the Israeli military.
Disregard for human life on U.S.-Mexico border: As much as 90% of the firearms used by Mexican drug cartels are of U.S. origin. Other documents, leaked by Lulzsec, show that although the Arizona Police has been well aware of armed and highly dangerous Mexican and U.S. gangs along the border, it has repeatedly chosen not to inform the people of the regional threats surrounding them.
Carbon credits system actually offsetting carbon emissions? Scientific American has published an article on flaws in the carbon credit trading system. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) established under the Kyoto Protocol lets rich countries offset carbon emissions by gaining carbon credits for investing in approved projects in developing countries which reduce emissions to a certain degree. Although Telegraph reports that India is the world’s second largest source of carbon credits, a cable from India written in July 2008 reveals that the majority of projects sponsored for carbon credits did not actually meet CDM requirements for reducing emissions.
Chevron lobbied U.S. to end lawsuit case in Ecuador: Courthouse News and Mother Jones report on a lawsuit begun in 2003 over damages that Chevron caused to the Amazon by oil drilling. A cable reveals that in 2008, Chevron had begun to secretly lobby the government of Ecuador to end the case. Other cables discuss the video footage Chevron released allegedly showing a judge presiding over the case accepting bribe money. In February 2011, a 18.2 billion USD penalty was issued to Chevron by an Ecuadorian court, but Chevron is trying to block the enforcement of the penalty through international arbitration.
Quebec position on tar sands: At the 2010 Cophenhagen climate conference Quebec Premier Jean Charest initially “openly and actively pushed Canada to do more to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions”. His position later softened following criticism in the media, possibly due to pressure from Power Corporation, cables say.
U.S. embassy cables claim former Tourism Minister and CDEEE executive were corrupt: Executives of the Forbes Energy company indicated that Radhamés Segura, executive vice-president of the CDEEE (Dominican Corporation of State Electrical Companies), was delaying the approval of their permits because he was expecting bribes, and that former Minister of Tourism Felix Jiménez (aka “Felucho”) asked for 10 million USD to use as bribes for permits to produce fuel ethanol from sugarcane on the border between Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Uganda politics: An opinion piece by Moses Nuwagaba, deputy spokesperson for Uganda People’s Congress political party, highlights a State Department cable which points to corruption in Uganda’s oil sector. The piece explores suspicions that the “National Resistance Movement administration deliberately hid valuable information about the oil project to offer its cohorts undue advantage so they could make personal fortunes at the expense of the rest of Ugandans.”
U.S. Ambassador saw emerging corruption economy and elite in India in 2006: Ambassador David Mumford wrote in a cable following a dispute between shop-keepers and the Supreme Court over illegally constructed shops in residential zones. Mumford said that India’s BJP party supported the shop-keepers because of connections with the trading class: “Both Delhi and Central government politicians are cowering in the face of the demands of the traders. The Congress leadership has demonstrated that it is more interested in cultivating powerful vested interests than upholding the rule of law and looking after the interests of the common man,” Mumford wrote.
Bangladesh spy agency controlled media coverage in 2007-2008: Cables report that the spy agency Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) censored media that was critical or provoked opposition to its policies. Officials and rights groups have recently been calling for Parliament to scrutinize security agencies which have infringed upon privacy through wire tapping.
U.S. interventions and interests^
South Caucasus conflicts: Armenia, bordered by Turkey to the West and Azerbaijan to the East, is embroiled in conflict with both nations. Azerbaijan National Assembly member Rasim Musabayov commented on the conflict in the South Caucasus, saying that the cables show that “pragmatic geopolitical views” guide U.S. action in the region, rather than a commitment to democracy. Another article describes cables showing the U.S. knew of a rigged Presidential election in Armenia, but chose to cooperate with President Serzh Sargsyan to further compromises in the region.
Morocco: The U.S.’ obsession with Sahara region: Following the start of the U.S.-Morocco free trade agreement in 2005, U.S. interests in the Sahara region form the the over-arching theme of cables sent from Rabat. In 2009, Describing Morocco’s view’s on support from U.S. and France, General Directorate for Studies and Research President Yassine Mansouri said in 2009 that while France should not publicly announce strong support, the U.S. would do well not to forget old allies for new oil partners.
Governor Josiah Hungwe in Zimbabwe removed from U.S. sanction list after supplying useful information: The list was composed of Zanu PF members guilty of human rights abuses or collaborating unethically with Mugabe. A cable comments that the visa sanctions list was not public, so there was no need to publicly disclose the names of people removed from the list.
U.S. and North African complained Canada paying ransom to free its diplomats put others in danger: A cable from 2010 describes a meeting between the U.S. ambassador to Mali and his Algerian counterpart, who spoke of the capture and release of two Canadian diplomats by the North African branch of al-Qaida, saying that paying ransom only made subsequent negotiations more difficult. At the time of the diplomats’ release, Canada claimed that it did not pay a ransom, but Postmedia news reported that mujahedeen fighters were released in exchange.
IMF says Zimbabwe economy the worst and result of gross economic mismanagement: IMF official Sharmini Coorey met with U.S. embassy officials in December 2006 to discuss Zimbabwe’s economic collapse. Coorey dubbed Zimbabwe central bank chief Gideon Gono as “the world’s worst central banker by far”. The cable noted that Coorey’s less-than-flattering assessment could be useful in pressuring “for conditions to be attached to restoration of voting rights.”
Hong Kong’s reaction to cables showing U.S. interference: The Washington Post reports on an editorial in China Daily, which criticizes the U.S. embassy in Hong Kong for having close relations with the “Gang of Four” and “fomenting anti-government sentiment and social conflict”. Another article in Ta Kung Pao similarly blasts U.S. interference in Hong Kong affairs.
US views on international conflicts and domestic policies^
WikiLeaks highlights Cardinal Law’s work in Vatican-Vietnam relations: American Cardinal Bernard Law has played a pivotal role in the Vatican’s relations with Vietnam, a country with which it is eagerly trying to improve the climate for religion. “Though he is currently out of the spotlight due to the media’s fixation on him as the chief scapegoat of the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis, Law has long been active in international affairs and inter-religious dialogue at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops,” the cable says.
Aoun: 1000 reasons to believe Syria killed former Lebanese prime minister Hariri: Anoun, the leader of the Lebanese party Free Patriotic Movement, told U.S. Senator Chris Dodd in 2006 that Syria was likely behind the killing, but said the UN investigation into the matter should be consulted before drawing final conclusions. Anoun also promised Dodd to keep “both eyes” on the Hezbollah for him.
Bangladesh Prime Minister set up exclusive negotiation channel with India: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, thankful for the support India gave her during imprisonment under the previous military regime, kept an exclusive channel of negotiation with New Delhi, which was not known to anyone outside the Bangladesh Prime Minister’s office. The cable also cites a former Ford Foundation Representative in Delhi and his views on India-Bangladesh relations.
U.S. cables on settling a 2007 Moldova-Spain conflict: In 2007, when Spain granted visa to Valery Litskai, part of the separatist communist Transdniestria government, Moldova was outraged. U.S. diplomats attempted to convince a Moldovan Minister to give a more measured response, and privately criticized Spain for its insensitivity to longstanding conflicts with Transdniestria.
An article recently republished on a Citigroup news site highlights divisions between the Ugandan central government and the Buganda Kingdom. The cable summarizes a discussion between Buganda’s King Ronald Mutebi II and Ambassador Jerry P. Lanier, covering rising ethnic tensions in Uganda, encroachment of state authority into Buganda affairs, and movements to return to a pre-1966 federal system.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith worried over Awami League landslide victory in 2008 parliamentary election: Muhith was concerned that the victory would marginalize other parties, as had happened in the past. Cables noted that the election results evidenced a firm rejection of the BNP, which had come under increasing allegations of corruption.
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe under increasing pressure to quit for past 11 years: The pressure came from African leaders in Botswana, Nigeria, and Ghana, who relate how and why they thought Mugabe held on to power.
Malawi finance minister said president mismanaged economy: Former finance minister Goodall said he had initially been able to steer the economic policies of the President Bingu wa Mutharika, who has been praised for the countries economic success. This had become impossible when the president became skeptical about economic policies international institutions.
- Cables detail Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s value in loyalty when rearranging her cabinet
Reactions and impact^
Freedom Isn’t Free at the State Department: A blog posting by State Department employee Peter van Buren linking to a Wikileaks document led to him being called to interrogation by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Any refusal to answer questions could, the interrogators said, cost him his job. That fact that van Buren was considered as being of particular interest to the Bureau of Diplomatic Security was likely due to his having published the book We Meant Well: “How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People.”
In an interview, the Commissioner’s office of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that the cables show the U.S. has been acting outside the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by interfering in Hong Kong’s political, social, and development affairs. The Commissioner urged the U.S. to abide by standard international law and cease interfering in other countries’ internal affairs.
Police arrests Essar General Manager for making payment to Maoists: DVCS Verma, General Manager of Indian Steel producer Essar, has been arrested following the publication of cables indicating that the company has paid ‘protection money’ to Maoists in order to secure its continued operations.
Mugabe takes no action against members of his party Zanu PF who criticized him in meetings with U.S.: There are arguments that the lack of response shows Mugabe’s weakness and deteriorating health, but a few have also claimed that he already knew of the meetings and criticisms discussed in the cables.
Former Malaysian Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman recently responded to allegations of aiding electoral fraud (article’s full text) which emerged recently from US State Department cables. The cable summarizes a meeting between US officials and former Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections chief Malek Husin, Husin alleged that Rahman had admitted to issuing over 600,000 identity cards to foreign migrant workers in Sabah in exchange for their votes in state Assembly Elections, at the request of the United Malays National Organisation (Malaysia’s largest political party). This week, Rahman categorically denied ever making such statements to Husin.
- Hasim Kiliç, head of Turkish Constitutional Court, denies disclosing state-related issues to U.S. ambassador
- Five months after U.S. Ambassador Heather Hodges expelled from Ecuador over cable info, U.S.-Ecuador relationship is mending