/ 3 December 2010

What the cables say

What The Cables Say

These are the key revelations from the United States embassy cables, as reported by the Guardian and its international media partners in the story, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, El Pais and the New York Times.

The US faces a worldwide diplomatic crisis. More than 250 000 classified cables from American embassies have been leaked.

  • 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 targeting 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 United Kingdom.
  • Bracing views of Berlin’s leadership and the description of German Chancellor Angela Merkel as “risk averse and rarely creative”.
  • 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.
  • Washington’s view of France, including a description of President Nicolas Sarkozy as “susceptible and authoritarian”. A French diplomatic adviser described Iran as a fascist state and Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez as a “madman transforming his country into another Zimbabwe”.
  • 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.
  • US Secretary of State 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.
  • Details of the US administration’s search for countries willing to take its Guantanamo prisoners, if it closed the base down, and the German government’s reluctance to help them.
  • 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 Davutoghi’s “neo-Ottoman visions” as exceptionally dangerous.
  • US diplomats describe the former Haitian president, René Preval, as “indispensable but difficult — a chameleon character” unwilling to accept advice.
  • US diplomats reported France in 2005 as a difficult ally in the fight against international terrorism, because its specialist investigating magistrates were insular, centred on Paris and operating in “another world”.
  • The US made repeated attempts to curb court cases in Spain against American soldiers and politicians accused of involvement in Iraqi war crimes or torture at Guantanamo. — Guardian News & Media 2010