March 5, 2012
By John Rubino
Last year the US ran a $272 billion trade deficit with China, which means we sent the Chinese that many extra dollars in return for the clothes, toys and iPhones they sent us. This lopsided relationship has been in place for a long time, allowing (or requiring) China to accumulate about $1.7 trillion dollars of various kinds of US paper.
From China’s perspective, this is a good deal in the short run but potentially a bad one longer-term. And lately the world has been wondering what they would do with all this low-yielding, rapidly-depreciating currency. The worst case scenario had them reacting to US deficits and debt monetization by converting their dollars into real assets at pretty much any price, sending the value of the dollar through the floor and igniting a currency crisis or hyperinflation.
Optimists dismissed the above as unlikely, since traders would see the change in strategy coming and front-run China by dumping dollars immediately, decimating the value of China’s remaining reserves. So the only option for China — and Japan, Saudi Arabia and other big trade surplus countries — is to keep playing the game by accumulating dollars in order to protect the value of their current reserves.
But there’s a lot of policy room between unrestrained accumulation and complete abandonment of the dollar. A surplus country can, for instance, keep accepting dollars but convert a growing share of them into other currencies or hard assets, over time lessening the dollar’s relative importance. This, it turns out, is exactly what China has been doing:
February 22, 2012
By Matthew Lee and Bradley Klapper
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is trying to ramp up diplomatic efforts against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime on a trip to North Africa this week, as some countries begin to explore the possibility of arming Syria’s rebels.
Clinton is traveling to London on Wednesday for a conference on Somalia, but U.S. officials will be using the international gathering to lay the groundwork for a major conference on Syria’s future taking place later this week in Tunisia. The trip comes as the Obama administration is opening the door slightly to international military assistance for Syria’s armed opposition.
In coordinated messages, the White House and State Department said Tuesday they still hoped for a political solution. But faced with the daily onslaught by the Assad regime against Syrian civilians, officials dropped the administration’s previous strident opposition to arming anti-regime forces. It remained unclear, though, what, if any, role the U.S. might play in providing such aid.
“We don’t want to take actions that would contribute to the further militarization of Syria because that could take the country down a dangerous path,” White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters. “But we don’t rule out additional measures if the international community should wait too long and not take the kind of action that needs to be taken.”
The administration had previously said flatly that more weapons were not the answer to the Syrian situation. There had been no mention of “additional measures,” despite daily reports from Syrian activists of dozens of deaths from government attacks.
At the State Department, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland used nearly identical language to describe the administration’s evolving position.
“From our perspective, we don’t believe that it makes sense to contribute now to the further militarization of Syria,” she told reporters. “What we don’t want to see is the spiral of violence increase. That said, if we can’t get Assad to yield to the pressure that we are all bringing to bear, we may have to consider additional measures.”
Neither Carney nor Nuland would elaborate on what “additional measures” might be taken but there have been growing calls, including from some in Congress, for the international community to arm the rebels. Most suggestions to that effect have foreseen Arab nations such as Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia — and not the West — possibly providing military assistance.
February 7, 2012
By Kurt Nimmo
Excerpts from the Arab League observers’ report on Syria make it clear that the establishment media is only telling part of the story and exaggerating violence by the al-Assad government and its police and military.
The report mentions an “armed entity’ that is killing civilians and police and conducting terrorist attacks targeting innocent civilians. Casualties from these attacks are attributed to the al-Assad government and used to build a case against Syria in the United Nations.
According to the Arab League report, the “Free Syria Army” and “armed opposition groups” are responsible for many of the killings.
In January, it was reported that MI6, the CIA, and British SAS are in Syria working with the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian National Council to overthrow the al-Assad regime. The Free Syrian Army is widely recognized as a creation of NATO. It is comprised largely of militants from the Muslim Brotherhood – itself an asset of British intelligence – and is funded, supported, and armed by the United States, Israel, and Turkey.
The report lends credence to reports filed in November of last year by journalist Webster Tarpley, who visited the Middle Eastern nation.
“What average Syrians of all ethnic groups say about this is that they are being shot at by snipers. People complained that there are terrorist snipers who are shooting at civilians, blind terrorism simply for the purpose of destabilizing the country. I would not call this civil war – it is a very misleading term. What you are dealing with here are death squads, you are dealing with terror commandos; this is a typical CIA method. In this case it’s a joint production of CIA, MI6, Mossad, it’s got money coming from Saudi Arabia, The United Arab Emirates and Qatar,” Tarpley told RT.
Tarpley said the United States is pushing a “bankrupt model of the color revolution, backed up by terrorist troops – people from Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood” and the objective is “to smash the Middle East according to ethnic lines.”
January 13, 2012
The New Republic
By David Keyes
“Why in the world would we be selling jets to Saudi Arabia. Weren’t all of the 9/11 hijackers from that country?” –KTRN
On December 29, the White House announced that it was sending nearly $30 billion worth of F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, part of a $60 billion package—the largest arms deal in history. President Obama has come a long way since his 2008 declaration that “nothing is more important than us no longer borrowing $700 billion or more from China and sending it to Saudi Arabia.” Apparently it was the borrowing part that really irked him—not the arming of a gender-apartheid, theocratic dictatorship.
The justification for the arms sale is simple. The deal will provide at least 50,000 jobs to Americans—good PR at a time of great economic distress. More importantly, it is intended to counter the very real threat of Iran, a regional menace that has brutally repressed its own people and sponsored terrorism worldwide. But arming one theocratic dictator to stop another is not only bad policy, it is profoundly immoral.
To see why, just consider the reaction of one Saudi dissident to the news. “America has never supported human rights in Saudi Arabia,” a leading female democracy activist told me on condition of anonymity. “America wants stability no matter what the price. But Saudi Arabia has become a police-state. My friends and I are being arrested, especially writers, activists, and reformers. It’s becoming North Korea with less military power. Someone may be reading what I’m writing to you now.”
Indeed, after signing a recent reformist petition, prominent liberal Mohammed Saeed Taib was banned from traveling, even to his daughter’s upcoming wedding. Shortly thereafter, Saudi poet Ali Al Domaini was called in for questioning. One by one, reformers are being intimidated, arrested, and silenced—and these are the lucky ones. Amina bint Abdulhalim Nassar and Abdul Hamid Al Fakki were beheaded in recent months for “witchcraft.”
Yet the United States is sending the $60 million dollars without demanding any human rights reforms in return. The late Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson once said, “We Americans are fortunate to have at our service the greatest economy the world has ever known. It can do more than enrich our lives. It can be pressed into service as an instrument of our commitment to individual liberty.” Both Democratic and Republican administrations have missed crucial opportunities to condition U.S. aid and arms on the rights of Saudi women to drive, Christians to pray, and gays to live. The White House could have demanded an end to the industry of Saudi textbooks calling Jews and Christians “apes and pigs.” Instead, it compromised its most cherished ideals and sacrificed liberty in the name of stability. As a result, it will get neither.
December 29, 2011
By David Jackson
“Why are we selling weapons to any other country? Didn’t we sell weapons to Iraq too – how did that turn out?” –KTRN
The United States has completed a $29.4 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, the Obama administration announced today, saying the deal “will support more than 50,000 American jobs.”
The sale may also be seen as a message to Iran.
Under the agreement signed by the governments of each country, the United States will provide advanced F-15SA combat aircraft to the Royal Saudi Air Force.
The sale comes amid U.S. and Saudi concerns about the military intentions of Iran.
The Saudis are concerned about Iranian efforts to influence events in Iraq, which is on the Saudi border; the U.S., meanwhile, has cautioned Iran against any effort to close the Strait of Hormuz to oil transport traffic, saying “any disruption will not be tolerated.”
Iran’s government warned this week it might restrict the Strait of Hormuz if Washington levies new sanctions targeting Iran’s crude exports over concerns about its nuclear program.
October 31, 2011
By Thom Shanker and Steven Lee Myers
MacDill Air Force Base, FL – The Obama administration plans to bolster the American military presence in the Persian Gulf after it withdraws the remaining troops from Iraq this year, according to officials and diplomats. That repositioning could include new combat forces in Kuwait able to respond to a collapse of security in Iraq or a military confrontation with Iran.
The plans, under discussion for months, gained new urgency after President Obama’s announcement this month that the last American soldiers would be brought home from Iraq by the end of December. Ending the eight-year war was a central pledge of his presidential campaign, but American military officers and diplomats, as well as officials of several countries in the region, worry that the withdrawal could leave instability or worse in its wake.
After unsuccessfully pressing both the Obama administration and the Iraqi government to permit as many as 20,000 American troops to remain in Iraq beyond 2011, the Pentagon is now drawing up an alternative.
In addition to negotiations over maintaining a ground combat presence in Kuwait, the United States is considering sending more naval warships through international waters in the region.
With an eye on the threat of a belligerent Iran, the administration is also seeking to expand military ties with the six nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman. While the United States has close bilateral military relationships with each, the administration and the military are trying to foster a new “security architecture” for the Persian Gulf that would integrate air and naval patrols and missile defense.
The size of the standby American combat force to be based in Kuwait remains the subject of negotiations, with an answer expected in coming days. Officers at the Central Command headquarters here declined to discuss specifics of the proposals, but it was clear that successful deployment plans from past decades could be incorporated into plans for a post-Iraq footprint in the region.
For example, in the time between the Persian Gulf war in 1991 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States Army kept at least a combat battalion — and sometimes a full combat brigade — in Kuwait year-round, along with an enormous arsenal ready to be unpacked should even more troops have been called to the region.
“Back to the future” is how Maj. Gen. Karl R. Horst, Central Command’s chief of staff, described planning for a new posture in the Gulf. He said the command was focusing on smaller but highly capable deployments and training partnerships with regional militaries. “We are kind of thinking of going back to the way it was before we had a big ‘boots on the ground’ presence,” General Horst said. “I think it is healthy. I think it is efficient. I think it is practical.”
Mr. Obama and his senior national security advisers have sought to reassure allies and answer critics, including many Republicans, that the United States will not abandon its commitments in the Persian Gulf even as it winds down the war in Iraq and looks ahead to doing the same in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
“We will have a robust continuing presence throughout the region, which is proof of our ongoing commitment to Iraq and to the future of that region, which holds such promise and should be freed from outside interference to continue on a pathway to democracy,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in Tajikistan after the president’s announcement.
During town-hall-style meetings with military personnel in Asia last week, the secretary of defense, Leon E. Panetta, noted that the United States had 40,000 troops in the region, including 23,000 in Kuwait, though the bulk of those serve as logistical support for the forces in Iraq.
As they undertake this effort, the Pentagon and its Central Command, which oversees operations in the region, have begun a significant rearrangement of American forces, acutely aware of the political and budgetary constraints facing the United States, including at least $450 billion of cuts in military spending over the next decade as part of the agreement to reduce the budget deficit.
Officers at Central Command said that the post-Iraq era required them to seek more efficient ways to deploy forces and maximize cooperation with regional partners. One significant outcome of the coming cuts, officials said, could be a steep decrease in the number of intelligence analysts assigned to the region. At the same time, officers hope to expand security relationships in the region. General Horst said that training exercises were “a sign of commitment to presence, a sign of commitment of resources, and a sign of commitment in building partner capability and partner capacity.”
Col. John G. Worman, Central Command’s chief for exercises, noted a Persian Gulf milestone: For the first time, he said, the military of Iraq had been invited to participate in a regional exercise in Jordan next year, called Eager Lion 12, built around the threat of guerrilla warfare and terrorism.
Another part of the administration’s post-Iraq planning involves the Gulf Cooperation Council, dominated by Saudi Arabia. It has increasingly sought to exert its diplomatic and military influence in the region and beyond. Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, for example, sent combat aircraft to the Mediterranean as part of the NATO-led intervention in Libya, while Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates each have forces in Afghanistan.
At the same time, however, the council sent a mostly Saudi ground force into Bahrain to support that government’s suppression of demonstrations this year, despite international criticism.
Despite such concerns, the administration has proposed establishing a stronger, multilateral security alliance with the six nations and the United States. Mr. Panetta and Mrs. Clinton outlined the proposal in an unusual joint meeting with the council on the sidelines of the United Nations in New York last month.
The proposal still requires the approval of the council, whose leaders will meet again in December in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, and the kind of multilateral collaboration that the administration envisions must overcome rivalries among the six nations.
“It’s not going to be a NATO tomorrow,” said a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss diplomatic negotiations still under way, “but the idea is to move to a more integrated effort.”
Iran, as it has been for more than three decades, remains the most worrisome threat to many of those nations, as well as to Iraq itself, where it has re-established political, cultural and economic ties, even as it provided covert support for Shiite insurgents who have battled American forces.
October 24, 2011
By CNN Wire Staff
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday slammed NATO’s role in Libya and said the United States — and all other countries — should stay out of the conflict in Syria.
“We think it is the will of the people that should work and prevail everywhere. Justice, freedom and respect to people — this is the right of all nations,” he said in an interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.
Ahmadinejad said his views on Libya were “not different” following the death Thursday of ousted Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi. He said NATO’s military campaign exacerbated the conflict and undermined the sovereignty of the nation.
Ahmadinejad also took aim at the United States, saying the country is “hated” in the Middle East and should keep out of regional affairs, such as in Syria, where a brutal government crackdown on protesters has drawn international ire.
“We should respect independence and sovereignty of all nations everywhere in the world,” he said. “We condemn killings and massacre. … Justice dictates that nobody should kill the other. Nobody has the right to kill others — neither the government nor the opponents. … We are going to make greater efforts to encourage both the government of Syria and the other side and all parties to reach an understanding. There should be no interference from outside.”
Syria is widely considered Iran’s closest ally in the Middle East. Leaders in both countries have been criticized for brutally repressing democratic reform movements at home while supporting violent Islamic extremism abroad.
Ahmadinejad said the United States should realize the “era of colonialism is over” and review its policies, especially when it comes to pressuring the Middle East.
“We have no problems with the people of the United States. We love them,” he said, adding that his problem is with the government.
“The United States has become weaker and weaker. And now, they are hated in the region,” Ahmadinejad said. The Middle East “should not be influenced by the pressures of the United States.”
The outspoken Ahmadinejad has long been a lightning rod for Iran’s critics.
U.S. authorities have accused Iran of being involved in a plot to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States, Adel Al-Jubeir, in spring 2012.
The alleged scheme involved a connection to the Quds Force, a branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard. A 56-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen and an Iran-based member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are accused of conspiring to hire hit men from a Mexican drug cartel to bomb a restaurant, where the ambassador would have been.
“Do we need really to kill the ambassador of a brotherly country? What is the reason and the interest behind that?” he said. “We never have any intention to hurt Saudi Arabia. Do we really want to do it in the United States? And is that the way, really?”
Ahmadinejad also criticized the United States’ military strategies.
In light of U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement Friday that all American troops would be out of Iraq by the end of the year, Ahmadinejad said they should have left sooner.
“The Iraqi government is independent and sovereign. They should decide how to provide training for their military personnel,” Ahmadinejad said.
Asked whether Iran’s involvement with Iraq will increase because of the American withdrawal, Ahmadinejad said there would be no changes.
Ahmadinejad also addressed accusations that Iran has misled the International Atomic Energy Agency. The agency has said Iran was not providing enough details for it to conclude it is engaged in only peaceful nuclear activities.
Ahmadinejad called such claims “lies.”
“The era of nuclear bombs is over,” he said as he questioned the credibility of the agency.
Ahmadinejad’s stances on conflicts mirror his speech last month at the U.N. General Assembly.
Delegations from the United States and several European nations, including France and the United Kingdom, walked out during his speech, in which he repeatedly condemned the United States and said some countries use the Holocaust as an “excuse to pay ransom … to Zionists.”
In his remarks, Ahmadinejad called the September 11, 2001, attacks “mysterious” and said they were a pretext for a U.S.-led war against Afghanistan and Iraq.
He said the United States killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden instead of assigning a fact-finding team to investigate “hidden elements involved in September 11.”
He also blamed the United States for numerous global problems, including the financial crisis, and criticized it for overspending on the military and “printing trillions of dollars” that triggered inflation, according to a translation of his speech provided by the U.N.
September 13, 2011
The Co-Chair of the Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 and former Head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Bob Graham, previously stated that an FBI informant had hosted and rented a room to two hijackers in 2000 and that, when the Inquiry sought to interview the informant, the FBI refused outright, and then hid him in an unknown location, and that a high-level FBI official stated these blocking maneuvers were undertaken under orders from the White House (confirmed here).
Today, Graham called for a new 9/11 investigation. As Raw Story notes:
Graham on Monday called on the U.S. government to reopen its investigation into 9/11 after a report found that links between Saudi Arabia and the hijackers were never disclosed by the FBI to the 2002 joint Congressional intelligence committee investigating the attacks.
“In the final report of the congressional inquiry, there was a chapter related primarily to the Saudi role in 9/11 that was totally censored, every word of the chapter has been withheld from the public,” Graham said on MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show.
“Some of the other questions we ought to be asking are if we know that the Saudis who lived in San Diego and now apparently in Sarasota received substantial assistance, what about the Saudis who lived in Phoenix, Arizona? Or Arlington, Virginia? … What was happening in those places?”
“I believe these are questions for which there are definitive answers, but the American people and largely their elected representatives have been denied that information.”
Many other 9/11 Commissioners and congressmen have called for a new investigation, including:
* 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey said that “There are ample reasons to suspect that there may be some alternative to what we outlined in our version . . . We didn’t have access . . . .” He also says that it might take “a permanent 9/11 commission” to end the remaining mysteries of September 11
* 9/11 Commission co-chair Lee Hamilton says “I don’t believe for a minute we got everything right”, that the Commission was set up to fail, that people should keep asking questions about 9/11, and that the 9/11 debate should continue
* 9/11 Commissioner Max Cleland resigned from the Commission, stating: “It is a national scandal”; “This investigation is now compromised”; and “One of these days we will have to get the full story because the 9-11 issue is so important to America. But this White House wants to cover it up”
* Senator Mike Gravel – who was the main congressman responsible for making the Pentagon Papers public – calls for a new 9/11 investigation
* Congressman Ron Paul calls for a new 9/11 investigation and states that “we see the [9/11] investigations that have been done so far as more or less cover-up and no real explanation of what went on”
* Congressman Dennis Kucinich wants a new investigation
* Congressman Jason Chafetz says that we need to be vigilant and continue to investigate 9/11
* Senator Lincoln Chaffee endorses a new investigation
* Congressman Dan Hamburg wants a new investigation
In addition,many high-level military and intelligence officials have called for a new investigation, including:
* Daniel Ellsberg has called for a new investigation
* U.S. General, Commanding General of U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, decorated with the Bronze Star, Silver Star, and Purple Heart (General Wesley Clark) said “We’ve never finished the investigation of 9/11 and whether the administration actually misused the intelligence information it had. The evidence seems pretty clear to me. I’ve seen that for a long time”
* Former Deputy Secretary for Intelligence and Warning under Nixon, Ford, and Carter (Morton Goulder), former Deputy Director to the White House Task Force on Terrorism (Edward L. Peck), and former US Department of State Foreign Service Officer (J. Michael Springmann), as well as a who’s who of liberals and independents) jointly call for a new investigation into 9/11
And numerous high-level judges, legal professors and trial lawyers call for a new investigation. See this and this.
December 8th, 2010
By: Robert Booth and Haroon Siddique
Shortly before 6.30pm on Sunday night, the first cracks appeared in the dam. The largest ever leak of US government classified documents streamed out online, revealing never publicly seen details about Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan and Russia.
Throughout the week the stream became a torrent of information about how US diplomats and foreign governments see the world. According to these classified cables, Saudi Arabia wanted Washington to bomb Iran, the UK harbours “deep concerns about the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons”, and Russia is considered a “virtual mafia state” with its president, Vladimir Putin, accused of amassing “illicit proceeds” from his time in office.
But perhaps most embarrassing for Hillary Clinton who, as US secretary of state, is ultimately responsible for the content of most of the cables released so far, was a cable that revealed Washington is running a spying campaign targeted at the secretary general, Ban Ki-moon and the rest of the UN leadership, as well as the permanent security council representatives from China, Russia, France and the UK.
Clinton has spent much of the week trying to justify the operation – which was looking for top UN officials’ passwords and credit card numbers , even DNA samples – to the press and in person to the UN secretary general.
As startling as the exposés were – the Saudi king urging America “to cut off the head of the snake”, to launch a military attack on Iran’s nuclear programme – it was as much the sense of a curtain lifting to reveal the world leaders not as wizards but as all too human, and that the private positions of those in power were often diametrically opposed to what they said in public, that made the cables so gripping – and perhaps so dangerous.
Clinton’s immediate reaction was to strongly condemn the leak and say that “every country, including the US, must be able to have honest, private dialogue with other countries … When someone breaches that trust, we are the worse off for it.”
Former presidential candidate, the Republican Mike Huckabee called for the execution of Bradley Manning, the 23-year-old US army intelligence analyst who is in custody at a military base in Virginia, facing trial for downloading the files while on duty in Iraq.
Fellow Republican Sarah Palin called Julian Assange, the fugitive founder of the WikiLeaks website, “an anti-American operative with blood on his hands” because she said previous leaks had included the identities of “more than 100 Afghan sources to the Taliban”.
Yesterday Assange described Manning as “an unparalleled hero”.
Several leaders who fared badly from the revelations were unconvinced the leaks were genuine. It was revealed that Russia was using mafia members to carry out operations like arms trafficking and that bribery functions as a parallel tax system for the personal enrichment of the police, officials and the KGB’s successor, the FSB. Even before the revelations, Vladimir Putin said: “Some experts believe that somebody is deceiving WikiLeaks, that its reputation is being undermined in order for it to be used for political purposes. Such an opinion is being expressed here.”
A day later, it emerged that US diplomats had reported suspicions that the Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, could be “profiting personally and handsomely” from secret deals with Putin.
President Ahmadinejad of Iran also denied that the Gulf Arab states are antagonistic towards his regime and said: “We don’t think this information was leaked. We think it was organised to be released on a regular basis and they are pursuing political goals.”
Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan was so rattled that he even threatened to sue over allegations of corruption.
Rampant corruption in Afghanistan was revealed, including an incident last year when the then vice-president, Ahmad Zia Massoud, was stopped and questioned in Dubai when he flew into the emirate with $52m in cash.
In the UK, there were calls for Mervyn King, the governor of the Bank of England, to resign after it emerged he had been briefing the US ambassador to London, Louis Susman, about the “lack of experience” of David Cameron and George Osborne, and that they “had a tendency to think about issues only in terms of politics and how they might affect Tory electorability [sic]“.
At least one major revelation gave some hopes for a more peaceful future, not least the suggestion that China is ready to accept Korean unification and is distancing itself from North Korea, which it describes as behaving like a “spoiled child”.
Dispatches on North Korea showed that South Korea’s vice-foreign minister was told by two senior Chinese officials that they believed Korea should be reunified under Seoul’s control and that this view was gaining ground in Beijing.
Throughout the week, the US authorities increased the pressure on WikiLeaks. On Tuesday they announced an investigation into whether it had breached espionage laws, and on Wednesday they successfully pressured Amazon to stop hosting the site.
Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate’s committee on homeland security, called on “any other company or organisation that is hosting WikiLeaks to immediately terminate its relationship with them”.
Yesterday, the WikiLeaks website went offline for the third time this week.
December 2nd, 2010
Day 1, Monday 29 November
• The US faces a worldwide diplomatic crisis. More than 250,000 classified cables from American embassies are leaked, many sent as recently as February.
• Saudi Arabia put pressure on the US to attack Iran. Other Arab allies also secretly agitated for military action against Tehran.
• Washington is running a secret intelligence campaign targeted at the leadership of the United Nations, including the secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, and the permanent security council representatives from China, Russia, France and the UK.
• Details of the round-the-clock offensive by US government officials, politicians, diplomats and military officers to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and roll back its advance across the Middle East.
• How Israel regarded 2010 as a “critical year” for tackling Iran’s alleged quest for nuclear weapons and warned the United States that time is running out to stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb.
• The secret EU plot to boycott the inauguration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president after the disputed Iranian election in 2009.
• Officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were denied blueprints for a secret nuclear reactor near Qom and told by Iran that evidence of bomb-grade uranium enrichment was forged.
• Saudi Arabia complained directly to the Iranian foreign minister of Iranian “meddling” in the Middle East.
• The US accused Iran of abusing the strict neutrality of the Iranian Red Crescent (IRC) society to smuggle intelligence agents and weapons into other countries, including Lebanon.
• Britain’s ambassador to Iran gave the US a private masterclass on how to negotiate with Iran.
• How a 75-year-old American of Iranian descent rode a horse over a freezing mountain range into Turkey after officials confiscated his passport.
• The story of how the 250,000 US embassy cables were leaked.
• Background on Siprnet: where America stores its secret cables.
• Editor’s note: publishing the cables.
• Explore the Guardian’s searchable database of the leaked embassy cables
A long piece in English primarily about the US view of Germany, including some bracing views of Berlin’s leadership and the description of Chancellor Angela Merkel as “risk averse and rarely creative”.
New York Times
The New York Times highlights US intelligence assessments that Iran has acquired missiles from North Korea which could for the first time enable Tehran to strike at western European capitals.
A trawl through the 3,620 documents in the haul originating from the US embassy in Madrid, dating from 2004 to this year (in Spanish).
The French paper also leads on the allegations of US spying on UN leaders but also covers Washington’s view of France, as gleaned from the cables (in French). President Nicolas Sarkozy is described as “susceptible and authoritarian”, and a French diplomatic adviser has described Iran as a fascist state and Venezuela’s president Hugo Chávez as a madman transforming his country into another Zimbabwe.
Day 2, Tuesday 30 November
• China is ready to accept Korean unification and is distancing itself from North Korea which it describes as behaving like a “spoiled child”. Cables say Kim Jong-il is a “flabby old chap” losing his grip and drinking.
• Prince Andrew attacked a Serious Fraud Office anti-corruption investigation during a meeting with British businessmen in Kyrgyzstan and criticised a Guardian investigation – and the French – in what the US ambassador there described as “an astonishingly candid” performance verging on the rude. He is also reported to like big game hunting and falconry.
• An official from the Commonwealth secretariat claimed Prince Charles is not respected in the same way as the Queen and questioned whether the heir apparent should necessarily succeed his mother as the head of the Commonwealth.
• Hillary Clinton wanted a briefing on the mental health of Argentina’s President Cristina Kirchner and asked whether she was taking medication to calm her down.
• The German magazine focuses on the US administration’s search for countries willing to take its Guantánamo prisoners, if it closed the base down, and the German government’s reluctance to help, with foreign minister Wolfgang Schäuble reportedly very sceptical. The German government would not accept 17 Uighur prisoners, despite the support of the Uighur exiled community in Munich, for fear of upsetting the Chinese government.
There is an extensive network of informants in Berlin, informing the US about Angela Merkel’s coalition negotiations. Merkel is described as an enigma, and sceptical about the US.
• The US administration doubts the Turkish government’s dependability as an ally, describing it as having little understanding of the outside world and its foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s “neo-Ottoman visions” as exceptionally dangerous. It describes a Muslim fraternity within the governing party and an “iron ring of sycophantic but contemptuous advisers”.
• The French newspaper Le Monde reports US diplomats describing the former president of Haiti, René Préval, as “indispensable but difficult … a chameleon character” unwilling to accept advice.
• In 2005, US diplomats reported France as being a difficult ally in the fight against international terrorism, because its specialist investigating magistrates were insular, centred on Paris and operating in “another world”.
• Spain’s El País focuses on repeated attempts by the US to curb court cases in Spain against American soldiers and politicians accused of involvement in Iraq war crimes or torture at Guantánamo. It highlights a series of cables relating to the possibility of Spain accepting former Guantánamo prisoners. Spain’s political situation and public opinion made this “almost impossible”, an official said.