The US offered Mugabe help to leave the country and escape prosecution. Cables also reveal the wasteful spending of Senegalese president’s personal entourage. UK supervisors said sanctioned Iranian bank was best run bank in London. Us lobbied for foreign adoptions Romania. Copyright protection law adopted in Spain after years of US pressure, revealed by cables. Iraq Body Count revises Iraq war death toll figure, adding deaths reveled by the Iraq War Logs.

Subject index

US intervention and influence^

Zimbabwe: Mugabe Declined U.S. Exit Package: Confident that Mugabe would lose the election in 2008, the US ambassador communicated a message to Nicholas Goche (the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister) that the US could help Mugabe secure a dignified exit from the country and to avoid prosecution, according a US embassy cable shows. The offer would be conditioned upon the adherence to “our principles,” including adherence to the rule of law in the country, the ambassador said. Goche rejected the offer, saying Mugabe was certain to win the election. With regards to the rule of law called for by the ambassador, Goche dismissed the remark saying it was merely a euphemism for returning land to the white part of the Zimbabwean population.

London bus passes a branch of Iranian owned Bank Sepah International. Photo from http://bit.ly/yKvas5.

Iranian banks and sanctions : The International Herald Tribune in its December 29 edition writes that harsh sanctions are seriously hampering the activities of the few remaining Iranian banks in London, making it impossible for them to take on new clients or do business with British banks.  The banks have come under investigations – the findings of which, however, do not reveal suspicious activity.  According to a 2008 embassy cable, British supervisory authorities told the US that “after being subjected to increased regulatory scrutiny, one of the banks has become the best-run bank in the U.K.” Other cables report that supervisory authorities try to “make life difficult for the [Iranian] banks”, and that they “border on bending the law.”

In related news, the central bank of Iran is preparing to file for the freeing up of some 2 billion US dollars worth of funds, which were frozen three years ago, after calls from a group of 1,000 people related to the victims of a 1983 attack on US soldiers in Beirut. Some 250 million US dollars, however, were released, on the grounds that they did not belong to Iran. The victims of the attack are claiming, however, that the banks Clearstream and UBAE sought to cover up that Iran was in fact the real owner of the funds. US embassy cables report concerns that UBAE, which was run by former Libyan leader Gaddafi, was used to bypass sanctions against Iranian banks.

Leaked cables confirm U.S. role in Somalia war: Yet another article, this time by Workers World, picks up on the revelation that US and Ethiopian officials met in early 2010 to discuss an Ethiopian military incursion into Somalia, aimed at weakening the Al-Shabaab organization. Such an incursion did take place in 2011, but the US had stated publicly  that it had not been aware of any such plans.

Revelations of spying on indigenous peoples over the past year: A number of stories published over the past year show that the US and Canada have worked to undermine the movement for indigenous peoples’ rights.  In Ecuador, the US launched a program to stop the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and warned Iceland against supporting it. Cables also show that the US has been tracking indigenous groups Chile, Peru and Ecuador, and that it has worked for expansion of mining in Peru, in opposition to indigenous groups.

Wikileaks Cable Haunted Pfizer in 2011: After 15 years of legal struggle, Pfizer was forced to begin to pay reparations for injuries incurred in relation to one of its medical drug trials. In 2011, the case was again brought to public attention, as a US embassy cable citing a Pfizer director describing how the company to cause the cable to be to be dismissed. The cable reports that Pfizer “had hired investigators to uncover corruption links to Federal Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa to expose him and put pressure on him to drop the federal cases.”

Influence on foreign legislation

Romania wants to simplify adoption laws: Only 1,000 out of a total of 40,000 abandoned children in Romania have been accepted for adoption, which is now seeking to ease regulations. In 2001, Bulgaria prohibited adoption to couples based abroad, an issue which has created a conflict between the EU and the US. Brussels maintained that Bulgaria should not allow foreign adoptions, arguing they were traumatic to the child. The US, on its part, wanted the regulation scrapped. US embassy cables showed the US had conditioned the granting of visas to Romanian citizens upon more liberal adoption rules. Seeking to please the EU, Romania legislated against foreign adoptions. It did so, however, in such strong terms that adoption rules were made complex even for domestic adoptions, to the detriment of abandoned children.

Spain’s intellectual property law enacted after threats from the US: Spain has implemented the Sinde Law – also called the Spanish SOPA – after considerable pressure from the US government. A leaked letter from the US ambassador to Madrid, dated 12 December 2011, was sent to outgoing President Zapatero, pressuring him to pass the provisions which would allow for copyright holders to have infringing websites shut down. Cables leaked by WikiLeaks have shown that the US has been involved in drafting the new copyright legislation since 2007. The most recently leaked letter from the US ambassador threatened to put Spain on the Priority Watch List if the Sinde Law was rejected, which would flag the country for breaching trade agreements. Former President Zapatero did not cave to the pressure, but incoming Prime Minister Rajoy enacted the Sinde Law immediately after taking office. Another leaked letter shows that American Chamber of Commerce in Spain chief Jaime Malet warned Rajoy of the consequences with respect to foreign investment if the intellectual property law was not passed.

War and insurgency^

Iraq Body Count: 162,000 reported deaths in Iraq war: Based on its own research, official reports, and the Iraq War Logs published by WikiLeaks, Iraq Body Count (an NGO dedicated to recording deaths resulting from in Iraq since the war began in 2003) has released figures putting a lower estimate on violent deaths during the course of the war at 162,000, of which 114,000 were civilian deaths. The figure can be expected to increase further, as only 1,363 of an expected 15,000 deaths recorded in the War Logs have been added to the database. It should be noted that the figures reported by Iraq Body Count are only of direct deaths resulting from violence. The total number of deaths that have resulted from the war is in all likelihood significantly higher. The organization Just Foregin Policy puts the actual figure of deaths at 1.5 million, as reported by Antiwar.com.

1998 diplomatic cable reveals pre-9/11 intel received by US addressing Bin Laden terror threat with UN: A cable authored by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in 1998 describes an approach on to the EU, prompted by threats made against the US by Osama bin Laden at the time. In the cable, Albright writes that the EU should take action to undermine bin Laden’s support base among the Taliban, as they were known to have been harboring him within Afghan borders at the time.

Counter-insurgency “improves” Brazil’s slums: Brazil is cracking down on gangs in many of its urban slums, and has succeeded, through the use of heavily armed police forces, to restore relative peace to some areas. In 2008, Pacifying Police Units were introduced, with the stated aim of reducing violence and freeing communities from the control of gangs. According to a cable cable from 2009, the program shares characteristics with counter-insurgency strategies used in Iraq and Afghanistan. “One of the principal challenges in this project is to convince favela population that the benefits of submitting to state authority (security, legitimate land ownership, access to education) outweigh the costs (taxes, utility fees, civil obedience),” the cable reports. This view to a high degree echoes the views expressed by a US official regarding counter-insurgency in Afghanistan, who was reported in cables to have argued that indiscriminate violence by adversaries of the US troops should be welcomed, since it helps boost public support for the security mission.

Libya and Al-Qaeda: According to US officials talking to AFP, Al-Qaeda is seeking to establish itself in Libya, but is weak and marginalized by the Arab Spring. However, a embassy cable from 2008 reports that the Libyan city of Derna was a stronghold of Muslim extremism at the time.

Political corruption^

Pakistan’s opaque politics exposed: WikiLeaks media partner Dawn.com writes that Cablegate revelations in 2011 have provided readers with a rare glimpse into the dealings of the notoriously opaque Pakistani government. The initial revelations included that Pakistan chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani had asked for US drone support (likely for reasons of surveillance) in Pakistan itself, and that Muslim League-Nawaz calls for the restoration of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was motivated merely by a wish to score political points, and that plans were made for the judge to be re-deposed at a later stage. Contrasting starkly to official policy, these reveled backroom dealing exposed the duplicity of Pakistani leaders, Dawn.com writes.

Senegal: Wade system coming to its end: At the beginning of the last decade, President of Senegal Abdoulaye Wade, who had run for president on the slogan “change” was seen as offering something new to the country. However, he put and end to one political system only to create another centered around his own family. Adding to the discontent with the president, widely publicised cables report that the president surrounds himself with a corrupted entourage which at the height of the crisis was spending nearly 1 billion US dollars worth of public funds per year. Another US embassy cable states that the president’s son, Karim Wade, was caught at the Casablanca airport carrying large quantities of Marijuana. The now 85-year old president is seeking to be re-elected for a third term, according to many in order to be able to phase in his son as his successor.

Brazilian diplomats sabotaged Brazilian bid: Then Special Advisor to the Brazilian Ministry Justice Pedro Viera Abramovay was one of the candidates to replace Antonio Costa as United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director in 2010.  According to one US State Department cable however, the Brazilian Deputy Chief of Mission to the UN told the US that while Abramovay’s candidacy was supported by the Ministry of Justice, it was opposed by the Foreign Ministry. Not only does this reveal conflicts within the government, it also shows that a Brazilian diplomat disloyally undermined Brazil’s chances of securing the position by speaking to foreign officials.

Political power struggles^

“If Rajapaksa wins, he may destroy everything I tried”: As her term drew to a close, Former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga told a number of diplomats before the national elections in 2005 that her main fear was that her successor Mahinda Rajapakse, would destroy everything she had built up as president. She also said that she had heard that the opposition party LTTE was hoping that Rajapakse would win the election, as his various weaknesses would show the world that the Tamil’s demand for independence was justified.

Cameroon: How Biya fooled U.S. diplomats about his succession plans: After the election of Paul Biya as president in 2004, there was speculation that he would seek to extend his presidency beyond 2011, when he would be forced by the constitution to leave office. However, putting on a facade, the president managed to convince many, including the US embassy in the country, that he was not interested in remaining in power beyond 2011. “Indeed, with his young wife and family, his ‘retirement’ house under construction next door to the embassy, and his sense of urgency about ongoing reforms, he seems to us a person who already has decided to live out his final days outside of public office,” a cable from Yaounde argues. President Biya did, in fact, proceed to implement a life presidency amendment.

Thailand: Pansak on palace opposition to Thaksin: Pansak Vinyaratn, an advisor to Prime Minister Thaksin, told the US embassy in 2006 that the prime minister’s opponents, led by Privy Council President Prem Tinsulanond, not only wanted Thaksin to lose the election later in the same year, but also sought the end of democracy in the country altogether. The prime minister’s enemies wanted to see him assassinated, Pansak said, as that would force the King to intervene on the political scene. Pansak also noted that the hostility of the King was remarkable, considering that the prime minister had taken measures to strengthen the Crown Property Bureau (CPB). Incidentally, a strengthening of the CPB would also have strengthened Thaksin’s own assets.

Impact and reactions^

Several articles report on a complaint filed 3 January, 2012 by Hafez Abu Saeda and other political and human rights activists mentioned in a May 2008 cable. Saeda is head of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR), and his complaint against various news organizations states that they spread fabricated information about named activists being funded by the US. While the cable reported various activists attending meetings and dinners with US embassy officials, there was no mention of funding. Al-Wafd editor Adel Sabry admitted that the information published was not accurate, and urged the public to check the original WikiLeaks cable.

Chavez: WikiLeaks shows US began inquiring about Christina Fernandez’ health two years ago: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez recently recalled that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had asked the embassy in Buenos Aires to gather information on the health of Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez, and to determine whether she was taking medication. Chávez also noted that five South American leaders – including himself – have been diagnosed with cancer in recent years. Chavez said he was not accusing anyone in particular, but noted that it is well known that entire villages have in the past been attacked through the use of science.