North Korea was prepared to get rid of nuclear weapons in return for diplomatic relations. Cables also show how diplomacy has been used to help Microsoft sign lucrative deals. Three Ugandan government officials accused of corruption detailed in cables. Cables having revealed Mugabe’s fragile health, voters may be reluctant to give him another term. Le Monde is shown to have over-redacted cables. All this and more in this week’s press roundup.
Military and arms issues^
North Korea Planned to Trade Nukes For Full Ties With U.S.: As talks about a denuclearisation of North Korea continue this month, cables show that the North Korean vice foreign minister in 2008 said that the country might be willing to get rid of its nuclear weapons, on the condition that the U.S. open full diplomatic relations with the country. North Korea is continuing to push for a re-opening of the talks.
India’s Tajikistan Air Base Dreams Die Hard: Despite denials from Tajikistan, India is reluctant to confirm that it will not use the Ayni air base in the country. Cables speculate that India may have an interest in keeping rumours about a deal between the two countries circulating as a means of signalling military strength to India and Pakistan.
WikiLeaks reveals US opposed Afghanistan signing cluster bombs ban (and here:The U.S said banning cluster bombs would weaken the “U.S.-Afghan security relationship.” The U.S. is known to have contacted more than 100 countries to press its view on cluster bombs.
Violence and Human rights^
Leaked Cable Shows US Concern Over Election Violence in Kurdistan: Cables document violence by political factions in the run-up to the 2010 Kurdistan elections. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan made deliberate efforts to incite to violence, including distrusting weapons, they allege.
WikiLeaks on Laos: Unusual in their frankness rather than in content, cables from Laos state that “Intent on giving an open door to some foreign investors, the government has few compunctions about trampling on its own citizens, ignoring their traditional lands and livelihoods and utter dependence on their environment for their survival.” The cables criticize an abysmal human rights record, a corrupt leadership, and point out that the fairness of general elections in the country is dubious.
Andy Worthington continues exposé of all prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. Part 25 of a planned series of 70 articles deals with 11 prisoners released mainly for political reasons in 2006.
The Deadly Microsoft Embrace: The government of India’s Tamil Nadu region is planning to purchase some 9 million computers, which will run Windows instead of free software. Cables shed light on how Microsoft has reached similar deals in other countries. In Vietnam, the U.S. government intervened to secure a large-scale contract for Microsoft. In Tunisia, Microsoft won a significant state contract only after the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had agreed to donate to a charity run by then president Ben Ali’s wife.
US diplomat said ex-BP boss’s Turkish partner unethical: Cables say Turkish businessman Mehmet Karamehmet is known to have employed tactics including death threats to force favorable deals. Mr Karamehmet is the largest shareholder of Genel Energy, which was recently acquired by Vallares Plc.
Richard Branson was ready to fund plan to persuade Mugabe to quit: Cables state that British businessman Richard Branson was to provide the funds for a large group of well-known African politicians, formed with the aim of persuading Mugabe to leave office. Zimbabwean politician Jonathan Moyo, who is alleged to have invited Branson to join the group, denies the allegations, saying that his own involvement was due to Branson, rather than the other way around.
U.S. aid and sanctions^
Corruption Lost Albania Millions in Aid Concerns about corruption in Albania may have prompted the U.S. to withdraw financial aid from the country, despite the its having qualified to receive the aid. “Embassy Tirana urges the MCC Board carefully to consider how this endemic corruption would impact the effectiveness of a compact program in Albania,” one cable reads. In line with the recommendations of the ambassador, the Millennium Challenge Corporation did not upgrade Albania’s status, something that could have given the country hundreds of millions of dollars worth of aid.
US embassy ‘defends’ Arab Bank: Several cables provide support to the Arab Bank, which have been alleged by the U.S. to have transferred funds to the Saudi Committee, a group classified as a terrorist organization. The cables state that the bank has been active in fighting money laundering and funding of terrorism, and that it is one of the “most respected, and even beloved, financial institutions in the region”.
Le Monde’s cable redaction: A comparison between the cables contained in the recently released full set of cables and the redacted cables previously published by Le Monde shows that the paper has gone well beyond its stated purpose of protecting sources in its redactions. In one cable, Le Monde deleted an entire paragraph stating France’s approval of cooperation between Rwanda and the Congo; in another, a segment discussing France’s interests in the Congo. In addition, Le Monde redacted paragraphs reporting on France’s insistence that the president of Mauritania be barred from international negotiations in Dakar, and speculation that the president of Madagascar was trying to build up a mercenary army.
WikiLeaks – “Very effective” Lankan diplomacy: Sri Lankan diplomat and former envoy to the UN Dayan Jayatillek points to cables showing that both the U.S. and the U.K. in 2009 were busy with the issue of human rights violations in Sri Lanka. But the cables also shed light on how a successful strategy to oppose these countries could look: Several cables refer to an effective aggressive Sri Lankan attitude in the U.N., with intense PR efforts to gain supporters for its view. Sri Lanka also successfully managed to turn the question in to one of global power, opposing third world countries against the west.
Ukraine-Russia gas deal: Tymoshenko’s biggest bet: Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in 2009 signed a gas deal with Russia on weak terms, agreeing to pay 10% more than Germany paid at the same time. One reason for Tymoshenko’s eagerness to sign the unfavourable deal may have been to “bolster [her] presidential campaign by showing she was able to avoid conflict with Russia.”
Abbas could face difficulties lobbying for support from Colombia: A long history of Israeli-Colombian military ties indicates that it will not be easy for Abbas to enlist Colombia’s support for Palestinian statehood. Cables point to significant levels of arms trade between the two countries. The friendly relations between the countries were likely a contributing factor to Colombia’s opposition to Palestinian statehood.
Lebanon: Member of parliament ‘recommended severance’ of FPM’s relation with Hezbollah Free Patriotic Movement MP Farid al-Khaze said around the time of the Israeli attack on Lebanon in 2006 that all ties of his party to Hezbollah should be cut. He also said that in order for peace to be achieved, the Hezbollah’s military capacity would have to be reduced to a level which would force it to accept a peace “roadmap”.
Similarly, Change and Reform leader Aoun kept distance from Hezbollah. Anoun said a Memorandum of Understanding was a necessary means of “neutralising” supporters of Syria, bud also stated that if there were better alternatives, he would be willing to drop the agreement with the Hezbollah.
- Lebanon: Speaker Berri asked U.S. to persuade FPM leader Aoun not to run for president
- Lebanon: Sleiman’s change of heart over Murr’s Leaks scandals
Zimbabwe: MDC-T igniting political violence: The view of a Senator belonging to the DC party expressed to the U.S. ambassador, that there are significant levels of corruption in local MDC councils correspond with recent abuse of power by MDC officials, a sympathizer of the opposing Zanu-PF party writes.
Mugabe assets worth over $1b: A 2001 cable estimates Mugabe’s wealth at USD 1 billion, most of which in real estate. Though difficult to estimate, his assets abroad were though to include “everything from secret accounts in Switzerland, the Channel Islands and the Bahamas to castles in Scotland”.
President Robert Mugabe ordered army commander General Solomon Mujuru to be put under surveillance: Mujuru himself said the country’s intelligence agency, CIO, had been ordered to surveil the general, something it had refused to do. The General died two months ago, under mysterious circumstances.
Analysts believe Zanu-PF hardliners were secretly cheering sanctions as means of removing Mugabe from power: Cables show that the sactions against Zimbabwe were aimed at removing Mugabe from power. As that was also the goal of many officials, it can be assumed they supported the sanctions. The revelations have undermined opposition to the sanctions within the Zanu-PF party, an opposition that has been its core policy.
Ministers strike it rich in conservancies: Many conservancy safari concession are to have been granted without the required public tender. The safari hunting business remains an important source of foreign currency for Zimbabwe.
- Hollywood Megastars guarded by Bulgarian Mega Mafia
- At home with the Assads: Syria’s ruthless ruling family
- Sri Lanka President Kumaratunga called Rajapaksa family uneducated and uncultured rascals
- President of Mauritania alleged to be of Senegalese or Moroccan origin
- Colombo Government Agent threatens to sue ambassador for allegations of election fraud
A breakdown of Czech sources cited by the US Embassy in Prague: A breakdown of the Czech sources cited in cables from Prague shows that Vladimíra Dvo?áková, a professor of politics at the Prague School of Economics, has been the embassy’s favourite source of information. Other sources include an advisor to former Czech President Václav Havel. Of twenty cited sources, 9 belong to the centre, 6 to the left, and 5 to the right of the political spectrum.
Kenya: How America Sees Malindi: In what All Africa calls a burst of hyperbole, a U.S. ambassador to Kenya describes the small city of Malindi a ridden with crime, drugs and corruption. A useless police force contributes to the mess by extorting tourists, something that it so profitable that the police themselves pay bribes to be stationed in the city, the ambassador writes.
Saudi Arabia: Leaked cable reveals how royals get rich: According to U.S. estimates, the Saudi royal family awards itself USD 2 billion, or 5% of the country’s GDP, per year in allowances. In addition, it gathers billions through the skimming of state project budgets.
- Cables allege Bangladeshi prime minister secretary Molla tried to stall Boeing deal for personal profit
Zanu-PF could break-up at Congress in Bulawayo: The Zimbabwean political party Zanu-PF, of which Mugabe is the president, faces a severe crisis as it prepares for a national congress on 6 December, in large part due to revelations in cables that have shocked the party. At the congress, Mugabe will meet many of the sources 6 December congress will be faced with sources cited in the cables, including those that said Mugabe should be removed. Mugabe, though reportedly furious about the cable revelations, could risk causing the collapse of his party should he attack his detractors. Not doing anything would also be hazardous for Mugabe, as it would be interpreted as a sign of weakness. Reuters notes that voters, meanwhile, having taken part of the content of the cables, may be reluctant to vote for a president they don’t think will survive his term.
Ugandan ministers accused of oil corruption: Pointing to cables, Ugandan parliament representative Gerald Karuhanga in parliament accused Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and Minister of the Interior Hillary Onek of corruption. The cables state that up to USD 100 million have been paid to the three ministers in bribes by Tullow Oil. After two days of intense debate, it was decided that no new contracts will be granted to Tullow or its competitors CNOOC and Total.
Ugandan president Museveni denies corruption allegations: Tullow, the oil company itself accused of having bribed officials in Uganda, told the U.S. that it believed Italian energy giant ENI had made similar payments. President Museveni, alleged to have received payments from ENI, has angrily rejected the claims, pointing out that ENI has not been granted any beneficial deals. Tullow has confirmed that it met with the U.S. embassy, but says the claims have been exaggerated.
Prime minister throws Chamisa out of NEC meeting: Following an attack on organising secretary of Zimbabwe’s MDC party Nelson Chamisa by Senator Femai at a a National Executive meeting, the minister minister kicked both of them out.
Army divided over Generals who criticized Chiwenga: Two Zimbabwean Brigadier-Generals are under investigation for criticisms cables allege they have made of the General Chiwenga. Top officials in the Zimbabwean military disagree on whether the two army generals could be successfully charged.
Cables spark demonstrations against minister MK Muneer: The revelation that Indian Minister of Social Welfare and Panchayats MK Muneer denounced the country’s National Development Front as a terrorist outfit has roused anger in the Social Democratic Party of India. A state president of the party said protests will continue until the minister has resigned.