Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Wikileaks Roundup: Pope wanted Muslim Turkey kept out of EU

Expand Messages
  • Zafar Khan
    WikiLeaks cables: Pope wanted Muslim Turkey kept out of EU Vatican diplomats also lobbied against Venezuela s Hugo Chávez and wanted Christian roots
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 12, 2010
      WikiLeaks cables: Pope wanted Muslim Turkey kept out of EU
      Vatican diplomats also lobbied against Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and wanted 'Christian roots' enshrined in EU constitution
      Heather Brooke and Andrew Brown
      guardian.co.uk, Friday 10 December 2010 21.30 GMT


      The pope is responsible for the Vatican's growing hostility towards Turkey joining the EU, previously secret cables sent from the US embassy to the Holy See in Rome claim.

      In 2004 Cardinal Ratzinger, the future pope, spoke out against letting a Muslim state join, although at the time the Vatican was formally neutral on the question.

      The Vatican's acting foreign minister, Monsignor Pietro Parolin, responded by telling US diplomats that Ratzinger's comments were his own rather than the official Vatican position.

      The cable released by WikiLeaks shows that Ratzinger was the leading voice behind the Holy See's unsuccessful drive to secure a reference to Europe's "Christian roots" in the EU constitution. The US diplomat noted that Ratzinger "clearly understands that allowing a Muslim country into the EU would further weaken his case for Europe's Christian foundations".

      But by 2006 Parolin was working for Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, and his tone had distinctly chilled. "Neither the pope nor the Vatican have endorsed Turkey's EU membership per se," he told the American charge d'affaires, "rather, the Holy See has been consistently open to accession, emphasising only that Turkey needs to fulfil the EU's Copenhagen criteria to take its place in Europe."

      But he did not expect the demands on religious freedom to be fulfilled: "One great fear is that Turkey could enter the EU without having made the necessary advances in religious freedom. [Parolin] insisted that EU members – and the US – continue to press the [Turkish government] on these issues … He said that short of 'open persecution', it couldn't get much worse for the Christian community in Turkey."

      The cables reveal the American government lobbying within Rome and Ankara for Turkish EU membership. "We hope a senior department official can visit the Holy See and encourage them to do more to push a positive message on Turkey and integration," concluded the 2006 cable.

      But by 2009, the American ambassador was briefing in advance of President Barack Obama's visit, that "the Holy See's position now is that as a non-EU member the Vatican has no role in promoting or vetoing Turkey's membership. The Vatican might prefer to see Turkey develop a special relationship short of membership with the EU."

      Roman Catholicism is the only religion in the world with the status of a sovereign state, allowing the pope's most senior clerics to sit at the top table with world leaders. The cables reveal the Vatican routinely wielding influence through diplomatic channels while sometimes denying it is doing so. The Vatican has diplomatic relations with 177 countries and has used its diplomatic status to lobby the US, United Nations and European Union in a concerted bid to impose its moral agenda through national and international parliaments.

      The US charge d'affaires D Brent Hardt told Parolin, his diplomatic counterpart in Rome, of "the Holy See's potential to influence Catholic countries to support a ban on human cloning" to which Parolin emphasised his agreement with the US position and promised to support fully UN efforts for such a ban.

      On other global issues such as climate change, the Vatican sought to use its moral authority as leverage, while refusing itself to sign formal treaties, such as the Copenhagen accord, that require reporting commitments.

      At a meeting in January this year Dr Paolo Conversi, the pope's representative on climate change at the Vatican's secretariat of state, told an American diplomat that the Vatican would "encourage other countries discreetly to associate themselves with the accord as opportunities arise".

      The Americans noted that Conversi's offer to support the US, even if discreetly, was significant because the Vatican was often reluctant to appear to compromise its independence and moral authority by associating itself with particular lobbying efforts.

      "Even more important than the Vatican's lobbying assistance, however, is the influence the pope's guidance can have on public opinion in countries with large Catholic majorities and beyond."

      The cables also reveal that the Vatican planned to use Poland as a trojan horse to spread Catholic family values through the structures of the European Union in Brussels.

      The then US ambassador to the Holy See, Francis Rooney, briefed Washington in 2006, shortly after the election of Pope Benedict XVI, that "the Holy See hopes that Poland will hold the line at the EU on 'life and family' issues that arise" and would serve as a counterweight to western European secularism once the country had integrated into the EU.

      The cable notes that Pope Benedict is preoccupied with Europe's increasing psychological distance from its Christian roots.

      "He has continued to focus on Poland's potential in combating this trend. This was one of the themes of the visit of several groups of Polish bishops to the Vatican at the end of last year [2005]. 'It's a topic that always comes up,' explained Monsignor Michael Banach, the Holy See minister of foreign affairs country director for Poland. He told us that the two sides recognised that the Polish bishops needed to exert leadership in the face of western European secularism."

      Across the Atlantic, the Vatican has told the Americans it wants to undermine the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, in Latin America because of worries about the deterioration of Catholic power there. It fears Chávez is seriously damaging relations between the Catholic church and the state by identifying the church hierarchy as part of the privileged class.

      Monsignor Angelo Accattino, in charge of Caribbean and Andean matters for the Vatican, said Obama should reach out to Cuba "in order to reduce the influence of Chávez and break up his cabal in Latin America".In December last year, America's adviser for western Europe at the UN, Robert Smolik, said the Vatican observer was "as always active and influential behind the scenes" and "lobbied actively and influentially in the corridors and in informal consultations, particularly on social issues".

      In 2001 another American diplomat to the Vatican stated: "The Holy See will continue to seek to play a role in the Middle East peace process while denying this intention." (1792)

      WikiLeaks cables: Saudis proposed Arab force to invade Lebanon
      Foreign minister wanted US, Nato and UN backing for offensive to end Iranian-backed Hezbollah's siege of government
      Ewen MacAskill in Washington
      guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 7 December 2010 21.30 GMT


      Saudi Arabia proposed creating an Arab force backed by US and Nato air and sea power to intervene in Lebanon two years ago and destroy Iranian-backed Hezbollah, according to a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.

      The plan would have sparked a proxy battle between the US and its allies against Iran, fought in one of the most volatile regions of the world.

      The Saudi plan was never enacted but reflects the anxiety of Saudi Arabia – as well as the US – about growing Iranian influence in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East.

      The proposal was made by the veteran Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, to the US special adviser to Iraq, David Satterfield. The US responded by expressing scepticism about the military feasibility of the plan.

      It would have marked a return of US forces to Lebanon almost three decades after they fled in the wake of the 1983 suicide attack on US marine barracks in Beirut that killed 299 American and French military personnel.

      Faisal, in a US cable marked secret, emphasised the need for what he referred to as a "security response" to the military challenge to the Lebanon government from Hezbollah, the Shia militia backed by Iran and, to a lesser extent, Syria.

      The cable says: "Specifically, Saud argued for an 'Arab force' to create and maintain order in and around Beirut.

      "The US and Nato would need to provide transport and logistical support, as well as 'naval and air cover'. Saud said that a Hezbollah victory in Beirut would mean the end of the Siniora government and the 'Iranian takeover' of Lebanon."

      The discussion came just days after Hezbollah and other pro-Iranian and pro-Syrian groups in Lebanon laid siege to Beirut, threatening the pro-western government of Fouad Siniora, after 17 months of street demonstrations.

      Siniora survived, though only after making enormous concessions to Hezbollah. He was replaced by another pro-western leader, Saad Hariri, but Hezbollah remains a force in Lebanon, lionised by many Arabs after defeating Israel in the 2006 war along the Lebanese border.

      According to the cable Saud argued that a Hezbollah victory against the Siniora government "combined with Iranian actions in Iraq and on the Palestinian front would be a disaster for the US and the entire region". Saud argued that the present situation in Beirut was "entirely military" and the solution must be military as well. The situation called for an "Arab force drawn from Arab 'periphery' states to deploy to Beirut under the 'cover of the UN'."

      Saud said Siniora strongly backed the idea but the only Arab countries aware of it were Egypt and Jordan, along with the secretary general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa.

      No contacts had been made with Syria on any Beirut developments, Saud said, adding: "What would be the use?"

      Saud said that of all the regional fronts on which Iran was advancing, Lebanon would be an "easier battle to win" for the anti-Iranian allies.

      Satterfield responded that the "political and military" feasibility of the undertaking Saud had outlined would appear very much open to question, particularly securing UN agreement, but the US would study any Arab decision.

      Saud concluded by underscoring that a UN-Arab peacekeeping force coupled with US air and naval support would "keep out Hezbollah forever" in Lebanon.

      WikiLeaks cables: Saudi princes throw parties boasting drink, drugs and sex
      Royals flout puritanical laws to throw parties for young elite while religious police are forced to turn a blind eye
      Heather Brooke
      guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 7 December 2010 21.30 GMT


      In what may prove a particularly incendiary cable, US diplomats describe a world of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll behind the official pieties of Saudi Arabian royalty.

      Jeddah consulate officials described an underground Halloween party, thrown last year by a member of the royal family, which broke all the country's Islamic taboos. Liquor and prostitutes were present in abundance, according to leaked dispatches, behind the heavily-guarded villa gates.

      The party was thrown by a wealthy prince from the large Al-Thunayan family. The diplomats said his identity should be kept secret. A US energy drinks company also put up some of the finance.

      "Alcohol, though strictly prohibited by Saudi law and custom, was plentiful at the party's well-stocked bar. The hired Filipino bartenders served a cocktail punch using sadiqi, a locally-made moonshine," the cable said. "It was also learned through word-of-mouth that a number of the guests were in fact 'working girls', not uncommon for such parties."

      The dispatch from the US partygoers, signed off by the consul in Jeddah, Martin Quinn, added: "Though not witnessed directly at this event, cocaine and hashish use is common in these social circles."

      The underground party scene is "thriving and throbbing" in Saudi Arabia thanks to the protection of Saudi royalty, the dispatch said. But it is only available behind closed doors and for the very rich.

      More than 150 Saudi men and women, most in their 20s and 30s, were at the party. The patronage of royalty meant the feared religious police kept a distance. Admission was controlled through a strict guest list. "The scene resembled a nightclub anywhere outside the kingdom: plentiful alcohol, young couples dancing, a DJ at the turntables and everyone in costume."

      The dispatch said the bar featured a top shelf of well-known brands of liquor, the original contents reportedly replaced with sadiqi. On the black market, they reported, a bottle of Smirnoff vodka can cost 1,500 riyals (£250) compared with 100 riyals (£16) for the locally-made vodka.

      In a venture into Saudi sociology, the diplomats explained why they thought their host was so attached to Nigerian bodyguards, some of whom were working on the door. "Most of the prince's security forces were young Nigerian men. It is common practice for Saudi princes to grow up with hired bodyguards from Nigeria or other African nations who are of similar age and who remain with the prince well into adulthood. The lifetime spent together creates an intense bond of loyalty"

      The cable claimed it was easy for would-be partygoers to find a patron out of more than 10,000 princes in the kingdom. Some are "royal highnesses" with direct descent from King Abdul Aziz, while others are "highnesses" from less direct branches.

      One young Saudi told the diplomat that big parties were a recent trend. Even a few years ago, he said, the only weekend activity was "dating" among small groups who met inside the homes of the rich. Some of the more opulent houses in Jeddah feature basement bars, discos and clubs. One high-society Saudi said: "The increased conservatism of our society over these past years has only moved social interaction to the inside of people's homes."

      WikiLeaks cables: Tunisia blocks site reporting 'hatred' of first lady
      US embassy warns Tunisian anger over corruption and unemployment, as well as 'intense dislike' for president's wife, threaten country's stability
      Ian Black, Middle East editor
      guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 7 December 2010 21.30 GMT


      Tunisia has blocked the website of a Lebanese newspaper that published US cables released by WikiLeaks describing high-level corruption, a sclerotic regime, and deep hatred of President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali's wife and her family.

      Deeply unflattering reports from the US embassy in Tunis, released by WikiLeaks, make no bones about the state of the small Maghreb country, widely considered one of the most repressive in a repressive region.

      "The problem is clear," wrote ambassador Robert Godec in July 2009, in a secret dispatch released by Beirut's al-Akhbar newspaper. "Tunisia has been ruled by the same president for 22 years. He has no successor. And, while President Ben Ali deserves credit for continuing many of the progressive policies of President Bourguiba, he and his regime have lost touch with the Tunisian people. They tolerate no advice or criticism, whether domestic or international. Increasingly, they rely on the police for control and focus on preserving power.

      "Corruption in the inner circle is growing. Even average Tunisians are now keenly aware of it, and the chorus of complaints is rising. Tunisians intensely dislike, even hate, first lady Leila Trabelsi and her family. In private, regime opponents mock her; even those close to the government express dismay at her reported behaviour. Meanwhile, anger is growing at Tunisia's high unemployment and regional inequities. As a consequence, the risks to the regime's long-term stability are increasing."

      Effective delivery of services, 5% economic growth, model rights for women and religious tolerance are all impressive and unusual for the region. But Tunisia suffers from high unemployment and regional inequities. It is also "a police state, with little freedom of expression or association, and serious human rights problems". France, the former colonial power, and Italy are singled out as having "shied away" from applying pressure for political reform.

      Frustrating though this all is, the US cannot afford to write off Tunisia. "We have too much at stake," Godec's report continued. "We have an interest in preventing al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and other extremist groups from establishing a foothold. We have an interest in keeping the Tunisian military professional and neutral. We also have an interest in fostering greater political openness and respect for human rights."

      Days later, an evening in the opulent home of Ben Ali's son-in-law Mohamed Sakher El Materi provided a striking illustration of the "great wealth and excess" fuelling resentment of the presidential family. (El Materi had recently helped the British ambassador to secure several appointments for the Duke of York, who was visiting to promote UK trade.) Aged 28, he owns a shipping cruise line, concessions for Audi, Volkswagen, Porsche and Renault, a pharmaceutical manufacturing firm, and real estate companies.

      El Materi, keen "to assist McDonald's to enter Tunisia", served a lavish dinner with ice cream and frozen yoghurt brought in by private plane from St Tropez, where he and his wife, Nesrine, one of the president's daughters, had just spent a two-week holiday (although their favourite destination is the Maldives). The El Materi household includes a large tiger, named Pasha, living in a cage, which consumes four chickens a day. The situation "reminded the US envoy of Uday Hussein's lion cage in Baghdad". The couple were planning to move to a new home "closer to a palace".

      Godec concluded: "The opulence with which El Materi and Nesrine live and their behaviour make clear why they and other members of Ben Ali's family are disliked and even hated by some Tunisians. The excesses of the Ben Ali family are growing."

      Johann Hari: This case must not obscure what WikiLeaks has told us
      Wednesday, 8 December 2010


      Every one of us owes a debt to Julian Assange. Thanks to him, we now know that our governments are pursuing policies that place you and your family in considerably greater danger. Wikileaks has informed us they have secretly launched war on yet another Muslim country, sanctioned torture, kidnapped innocent people from the streets of free countries and intimidated the police into hushing it up, and covered up the killing of 15,000 civilians – five times the number killed on 9/11. Each one of these acts has increased the number of jihadis. We can only change these policies if we know about them – and Assange has given us the black-and-white proof.

      Each of the wikileaks revelations has been carefully weighed to ensure there is a public interest in disclosing it. Of the more than 250,000 documents they hold, they have released fewer than 1000 – and each of those has had the names of informants, or any information that could place anyone at risk, removed. The information they have released covers areas where our governments are defying the will of their own citizens, and hiding the proof from them.

      Here’s some examples. The Obama administration has been denying that it has expanded the current “war” to yet another country, Yemen. Now we know that is a lie. Ali Abdulah Saleh, the Yemeni dictator, brags in these cables to a US diplomat: “We’ll continue to say the bombs are ours, not yours.” The counter-insurgency expert David Kilcullen, who until recently was a senior advisor to General Petreaus in Iraq, estimates that for every one jihadi killed in these bombings, they kill fifty innocent people. How would we react if this was happening in Britain? How many of us would become deranged by grief and resolve to fight back, even against the other side’s women and children? Bombing to end jihadism is like smoking to end lung cancer – a cure that worsens the disease.

      The US and British governments told us they invaded Iraq, in part, because they were appalled that the Iraqi government tortured its own citizens. Tony Blair often mentioned “Saddam’s torture chambers” in making his case for the war. Yet these leaked documents show that as soon as our governments were in charge, the policy of burning, electrocuting and raping people started again – and they consciously chose a policy of not objecting and not investigating. Modern jihadism was born in the torture chambers of Egypt in the 1950s. A lot more will have been made in the torture chambers of Baghdad since 2003. Some of it has already exploded onto our streets – the attempted Glasgow airport bombing was by Iraqis who said they were “resisting” the use of torture in their country. There will be more.

      The cables reveal how this grief and murderous rage is being spread across the Muslim world, while we lie about it. Here’s just one example. US troops blew up an Afghan village called Azizabad, and killed 95 people, 50 of them children. None were al Qaeda, or even Taliban. They knew what they’d done – yet in public they kept insisting they’d killed “militants”, and even accused the local Afghan villagers of “fabricat[ing] such evidence as grave sites.”

      Wikileaks has exposed a terrifying casualness in our governments about ramping up the risk against us. Indeed, they show that the US government knows Saudi Arabia is “the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups world-wide”, but our leaders continue to (literally) hold hands with them, because their oil pipelines run our way. They show a startling contempt for democracy too: when the Honduran President, Manuel Zelaya, was kidnapped by a far right clique because he had increased the minimum wage and redistributed wealth to the poor, the US embassy confirmed privately that it was “clearly illegal”. Yet the US administration refused to say this publicly, instead urging “reconciliation” with the junta their own diplomats were calling “totally illegitimate.”

      For Britain’s politicians, the documents offer a long-needed slap in the face. Successive governments, of all parties, support these destructive US policies because they believe we have influence with the Americans. But these cables show the Americans literally laugh at them and their sycophancy, describing their servility in mocking tones in cables back home, saying “it would be humorous if it were not so corrosive.”

      Most people in the US and Britain oppose these policies. We are better than our politicians. But we can only stop them – and the risk they pose to innocent people across the world, including us – if we know about them. Assange has made that possible, at great risk to his liberty and his life. So this is a move that enhances our national security. Of course, there are people who claim he has “blood on his hands” – but where is there evidence? It is months now since the first cables were leaked, and they have found not a single person who has been even threatened as a result of the leaks – except Assange, whose death is being incited by many of America’s leading politicians.

      There is a squalid little irony when you see people who are literally bombing innocent civilians every day feverishly accuse a man who has never touched a weapon in his life of being “covered in blood.” Wikileaks have hurt nobody. They redacted sensitive names. They held back any cables that could expose anyone to risk. They asked the Pentagon to help them by privately explaining where they believed there could be a danger – only to be rebuffed.

      Of course, it is possible Julian Assange did this good, noble thing, and is also a rapist. I do not believe in reflexively dismissing rape claims by any woman, in any circumstances. Bill Clinton was the victim of a right-wing smear campaign and many of us dismissed the allegations of sexual assault against him – but now, years later, one of the women who came forward, Kathleen Willey, has earned nothing from her allegations, remains a left-wing Democrat, and seems to have a very plausible case.

      Here’s what we know. There is a long history of the CIA viciously smearing people who dare to cross the US state machinery. There is a strong chance the claims against Assange is another case of it. But there is also a long history of otherwise admirable men turning out to be rapists, and there’s a chance this is another case of it. This should be tested in a court of law – and the trial should be watched very careful to make sure it’s not being rigged by bribes or threats.

      Whatever that judgment turns out to be, we will never unlearn or unknow the great truths Julian Assange has brought us. The hysterical state-power hacks saying he is “a terrorist” should go tell it to all the tortured Iraqis, all the terrorized Honduran democrats, and all the bombed Yemenis whose story he has – at last – brought out from the sealed-away world of Top Secret cables.

      * For updates on Assange and other issues, Follow Johann on Twitter at www.twitter.com/johannhari101

      Saudi plan for anti-Hezbollah force
      Cable leak reveals Saudi plan of setting up an Arab force to fight Hezbollah with the help of the US, UN and Nato.


      WikiLeaks cables portray Saudi Arabia as a cash machine for terrorists
      Hillary Clinton memo highlights Gulf states' failure to block funding for groups like al-Qaida, Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba
      Declan Walsh in Islamabad
      guardian.co.uk, Sunday 5 December 2010 15.30 GMT


      Saudi Arabia is the world's largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba – but the Saudi government is reluctant to stem the flow of money, according to Hillary Clinton.

      "More needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban, LeT and other terrorist groups," says a secret December 2009 paper signed by the US secretary of state. Her memo urged US diplomats to redouble their efforts to stop Gulf money reaching extremists in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

      "Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide," she said.

      Three other Arab countries are listed as sources of militant money: Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

      The cables highlight an often ignored factor in the Pakistani and Afghan conflicts: that the violence is partly bankrolled by rich, conservative donors across the Arabian Sea whose governments do little to stop them.

      The problem is particularly acute in Saudi Arabia, where militants soliciting funds slip into the country disguised as holy pilgrims, set up front companies to launder funds and receive money from government-sanctioned charities.

      One cable details how the Pakistani militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba, which carried out the 2008 Mumbai attacks, used a Saudi-based front company to fund its activities in 2005.

      Meanwhile officials with the LeT's charity wing, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, travelled to Saudi Arabia seeking donations for new schools at vastly inflated costs – then siphoned off the excess money to fund militant operations.

      Militants seeking donations often come during the hajj pilgrimage – "a major security loophole since pilgrims often travel with large amounts of cash and the Saudis cannot refuse them entry into Saudi Arabia". Even a small donation can go far: LeT operates on a budget of just $5.25m (£3.25m) a year, according to American estimates.

      Saudi officials are often painted as reluctant partners. Clinton complained of the "ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist funds emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority".

      Washington is critical of the Saudi refusal to ban three charities classified as terrorist entities in the US. "Intelligence suggests that these groups continue to send money overseas and, at times, fund extremism overseas," she said.

      There has been some progress. This year US officials reported that al-Qaida's fundraising ability had "deteriorated substantially" since a government crackdown. As a result Bin Laden's group was "in its weakest state since 9/11" in Saudi Arabia.

      Any criticisms are generally offered in private. The cables show that when it comes to powerful oil-rich allies US diplomats save their concerns for closed-door talks, in stark contrast to the often pointed criticism meted out to allies in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

      Instead, officials at the Riyadh embassy worry about protecting Saudi oilfields from al-Qaida attacks.

      The other major headache for the US in the Gulf region is the United Arab Emirates. The Afghan Taliban and their militant partners the Haqqani network earn "significant funds" through UAE-based businesses, according to one report. The Taliban extort money from the large Pashtun community in the UAE, which is home to 1 million Pakistanis and 150,000 Afghans. They also fundraise by kidnapping Pashtun businessmen based in Dubai or their relatives.

      "Some Afghan businessmen in the UAE have resorted to purchasing tickets on the day of travel to limit the chance of being kidnapped themselves upon arrival in either Afghanistan or Pakistan," the report says.

      Last January US intelligence sources said two senior Taliban fundraisers had regularly travelled to the UAE, where the Taliban and Haqqani networks laundered money through local front companies.

      One report singled out a Kabul-based "Haqqani facilitator", Haji Khalil Zadran, as a key figure. But, Clinton complained, it was hard to be sure: the UAE's weak financial regulation and porous borders left US investigators with "limited information" on the identity of Taliban and LeT facilitators.

      The lack of border controls was "exploited by Taliban couriers and Afghan drug lords camouflaged among traders, businessmen and migrant workers", she said.

      In an effort to stem the flow of funds American and UAE officials are increasingly co-operating to catch the "cash couriers" – smugglers who fly giant sums of money into Pakistan and Afghanistan.

      In common with its neighbours Kuwait is described as a "source of funds and a key transit point" for al-Qaida and other militant groups. While the government has acted against attacks on its own soil, it is "less inclined to take action against Kuwait-based financiers and facilitators plotting attacks outside of Kuwait".

      Kuwait has refused to ban the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society, a charity the US designated a terrorist entity in June 2008 for providing aid to al-Qaida and affiliated groups, including LeT.

      There is little information about militant fundraising in the fourth Gulf country singled out, Qatar, other than to say its "overall level of CT co-operation with the US is considered the worst in the region".

      The funding quagmire extends to Pakistan itself, where the US cables detail sharp criticism of the government's ambivalence towards funding of militant groups that enjoy covert military support.

      The cables show how before the Mumbai attacks in 2008, Pakistani and Chinese diplomats manoeuvred hard to block UN sanctions against Jamaat-ud-Dawa.

      But in August 2009, nine months after sanctions were finally imposed, US diplomats wrote: "We continue to see reporting indicating that JUD is still operating in multiple locations in Pakistan and that the group continues to openly raise funds". JUD denies it is the charity wing of LeT.

      Yemen 'opened door' to US forces
      Country's president told Washington it could fight al-Qaeda on its soil, according to WikiLeaks documents.
      Last Modified: 04 Dec 2010 05:09 GMT


      Yemen's president secretly offered US forces access to his country to take on al-Qaeda, according to the latest diplomatic cables released by whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

      Ali Abdullah Saleh told John Brennan, the US president's deputy national security adviser, that the US had an "open door on terrorism" in Yemen, according to reports in The Guardian and The New York Times on Friday.

      "I have given you an open door on terrorism. So I am not responsible," Saleh told Brennan back in September 2009, the papers reported.

      But both newspapers said that Yemen has in fact put limits on access by US forces in order to avoid domestic criticism.

      Washington fears the country, the poorest in the Arab world, has become a haven for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

      'State secret'

      Saleh also admitted misleading his people by claiming that US cruise missile attacks on al-Qaeda in Yemen last December were the work of Yemeni forces, with the support of American intelligence authorities, the papers said.

      "We'll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours," Saleh told General David Petraeus, then head of US Central Command, on January 2, The Guardian said, citing the leaked cables.

      Other diplomatic documents released by WikiLeaks concerning Yemen showed that US officials suspected the country had a secret cache of shoulder-fired missiles that could have threatened US forces if they fell in the wrong hands.

      An embassy cable marked "secret" and dated August 4, 2009 said that an informant, whose name has been redacted, told US political officers that Yemen's defence ministry "does indeed have 'Manpads', but would never speak of them because they are considered a state secret".

      Man Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS) are shoulder-fired missiles designed to down aircraft, and were most famously used by Afghan fighters in the 1980s to shoot down helicopters and eventually drive out Soviet forces.

      Miffed Gaddafi

      In other documents it appeared that Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, had caused a month-long nuclear scare in 2009 when he delayed the return to Russia of radioactive material.

      The Guardian said the leaked secret diplomatic cables showed that seven metal casks sealed only for transport, not for storage, were left at a Libyan nuclear facility with a single armed guard in November 2009.

      Scientists warned that the 5.2 kilogrammes of uranium in the casks was highly radioactive and rapidly heating up, making it liable to crack the containers and leak into the atmosphere.

      The seven casks of spent nuclear fuel were due to be flown to Russia for disposal on a specialised transport aeroplane as part of Gaddafi's promise to abandon Libya's programme of weapons of mass destruction.

      But instead Libya refused permission and the Russian aircraft took off without them.

      The reason for the sudden change of plan appeared to be that Gaddafi had taken offence at his treatment during his visit to New York to address the United Nations two months earlier.

      Gaddafi had felt "humiliated" after being barred from pitching his large Bedouin tent in New York and from visiting the Ground Zero site of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the diplomatic cable showed Saif al-Islam, Gadaffi's son, as telling Gene Cretz, the US ambassador to Tripoli.

      Lebanon 'gave Israel army tips'
      Defence minister offered advice to Israel in 2008 on how to defeat Hezbollah, WikiLeaks documents show.
      Last Modified: 08 Dec 2010 04:09 GMT


      Lebanon's defence minister offered advice to Israel in 2008 on how they might defeat Hezbollah, the Shia group based in southern Lebanon, according to US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.

      The memo, published in Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, showed Elias Murr telling US officials that areas under Hezbollah control would not receive Lebanese forces' protection from attacks.

      "If Israel has to bomb all of these places in the Shia areas as a matter of operational concern, that is Hezbollah's problem,'' Murr reportedly said.

      'Not accurate'

      The minister also said that any Israeli attack on Lebanon should avoid bombing Christian areas, to stop public opinion turning against them.

      "Murr told us that Israel would do well to avoid two things when it comes for Hezbollah," the US officials are quoted as saying.

      "One, it must not touch the Blue Line or the UNSCR 1701 areas as this will keep Hezbollah out of these areas," said the memo, referring to the border region in southern Lebanon patrolled by UN peacekeepers.

      "Two, Israel cannot bomb bridges and infrastructure in the Christian areas," Murr is cited as stating.

      However, Murr said that he was not responsible for passing on messages to Israel.

      In the March 10 meeting, Murr added that the Lebanese army would avoid taking part in any future war, but the military would be ready to "take over, once Hezbollah's militia has been destroyed".

      George Soulage, Murr's principal aide, said Murr had met with Michele Sison, then US ambassador, but refuted the accusation of the leak, stating: "The information posted by WikiLeaks is not complete and is not accurate.

      "The aim behind this is to sow discord in Lebanon.

      "The cable does not reflect the truth about what happened during the meeting and it has no value."

      War fear

      The memo states that in the meeting Murr expressed fears that another war between Hezbollah and Israel was imminent, following their battle in 2006.

      Elias Hanna, a retired Lebanese general, told Al Jazeera that the cable had to be taken in context: "The meeting was like two hours and a half. And it depends who wrote this paper, what is his style and what does he want to do.

      "In our field, there is a lot of difference between analyses and real intelligence. This cable is about real intelligence you don’t have to go and analyse it. It will cause political uproar in Lebanon … it will create political problems.

      "The damage is done for his political career. "

      Another memo reveals that the US secretly flew reconnaissance flights over Hezbollah locations in 2008, using British airbases.

      UK officials reportedly complained about the use of their national airbases to launch the missions.

      The revelations will cause tensions to rise between Hezbollah and Lebanon's Western-backed government.

      It comes when the potentially explosive outcome of a UN tribunal to uncover the perpetrators of the 2005 assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, the ex-prime minister of Lebanon, could be announced this month.

      Members of Hezbollah - that claims the trial is biased - could be indicted by the court. Many people fear that such an outcome could ignite violence.

      The WikiLeaks website began releasing more than 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables on Sunday, infuriating Washington, which called the leaks an "attack on the international community"
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.