Report

WikiLeaks Releases Large Tranche of Saudi Documents

WikiLeaks, in partnership with Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, began releasing what they say are hundreds of thousands of Saudi diplomatic cables on Friday. So far, more than 60,000 documents have been made available online. A spokesman for the Saudi Foreign Ministry said the leaked cables were related to a recent cyberattack and suggested that some of ...

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WikiLeaks, in partnership with Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, began releasing what they say are hundreds of thousands of Saudi diplomatic cables on Friday. So far, more than 60,000 documents have been made available online. A spokesman for the Saudi Foreign Ministry said the leaked cables were related to a recent cyberattack and suggested that some of the documents were “clearly fabricated.”

According to reports, the first tranche of documents contains no major revelations, but illustrates Saudi Arabia’s willingness to use its financial and religious resources in its diplomatic affairs. This includes clandestine discussions with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to pay for the release of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, requests from foreign politicians for patronage, and dispensations of thousands of pilgrimage visas to friendly politicians for distribution. The cables also demonstrate Saudi Arabia’s interest in Iran, tracking issues like the early stages of the international nuclear negotiations closely.

Yemen Peace Talks End Without Agreement

Five days of shuttle talks, in which U.N. Envoy to Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed moved back and forth between representatives of the Houthis and the government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, ended on Friday without reaching an agreement for a temporary ceasefire. Both sides asked for preconditions for a ceasefire that prevented a consensus, but Ahmed told reporters, “I come out with a certain degree of optimism…It’s a matter of time.” The United Nations also called for $1.6 billion to alleviate the humanitarian disaster in Yemen. Continued Saudi airstrikes and Houthi raids along the Saudi-Yemeni border have increased the possibility of a ground conflict, say analysts.

Headlines

  • The Iranian parliament voted for legislation that would restrict international inspectors’ access to military facilities under a potential nuclear agreement; the bill also states that final decisions about a deal will be decided by Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, not the parliament.

 

  • The Islamic State has placed landmines in and around the ancient ruins of Palmyra, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

 

  • German authorities have arrested Ahmed Mansour, an Al-Jazeera television host, in accordance with an extradition request from Egypt, where he stands accused of torturing a lawyer during the 2011 uprising.

 

  • The Israeli military reportedly conducted an airstrike in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley to destroy what may have been one of its own drones that may have crashed there.

 

  • Egypt has named a new ambassador to Israel, Hazem Khairat, for the first time since the previous ambassador was recalled in 2012 under the government of then-President Mohamed Morsi.

Arguments and Analysis

How leaked Saudi documents might really matter” (Marc Lynch, The Monkey Cage)

“It’s easy to be jaded by the routinized script of such leaks, by the pugnacious politics surrounding WikiLeaks itself, by the limited impact of previous leaks, or by the toxic public discourse surrounding the Middle East’s sectarian and partisan conflicts. What’s more, the leaks can have only a limited direct political effect in the current highly polarized and collectively repressive regional environment. Don’t expect the cables to cause uprisings in Riyadh or the expulsion of Saudi diplomats from Arab capitals anytime soon. However, it would be a mistake to dismiss the significance of these leaks. They are likely to matter more than many of the previous such leaks because of how they resonate with two of the most potent issues in today’s Middle East: the regional proxy wars between Saudi Arabia and Iran; and fierce Arab regime efforts to control an inexorably expanding Arab public sphere and erase the gains of the 2010-2011 uprisings.”

 

PKKistan: Brought to you by American close air support” (Aaron Stein, War on the Rocks)

“The empowerment of the PYD will have domestic and political repercussions for Turkey. The group’s control of territory in Syria will remain a significant concern for Turkish security and foreign policy officials. For now, both sides have an incentive to refrain from escalating the situation. The PYD would lose international credibility, while Turkey could risk being dragged into the Syrian conflict. However, looking beyond the current conflict, Ankara must now contend with the unthinkable: an American-supported PKK allied statelet along its longest land border. These two actors are certain to remain hostile to each other, giving way to a choice: Ankara could reinvigorate the peace process and try to make peace with the PKK, or it could choose to try to eliminate the threat. This choice suggests continued turmoil in Syria — and perhaps an unintended consequence of the American decision to intervene in the Syrian conflict.”

-J. Dana Stuster

FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images

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