A US diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks (and which has gone under the radar) appears to show that Saudi Arabia paid the Lebanese army to attack the Nahr al-Barid refugee camp in 2007 to finish off a militant group with many Saudis in its ranks. At the time, Saudi Arabia was extremely embarrassed about the revelations that Saudis were among the Fatah al-Islam fighters ensconced in the Palestinian refugee camp (“Saudis fighting in Iraq, Lebanon embarrass homeland,” Reuters, 19 July 2007). Lebanese officials indicated during the fighting that there were dozens of Saudis among Fatah al-Islam fighters, which Saudi media said was exaggerated. One report from a Saudi analyst said there had been up to 300 Saudi jihadists operating in Nahr al-Barid, and PLO chief in Beirut Sultan Abul-Aynein has been quoted as saying 23 Saudis died there (see Sami Moubayed, “Loose Saudi Cannons in Lebanon,” Asia Times, 19 July 2007). Continue reading SaudiLeaks: Saudi funded Nahr al-Barid war on … Saudis
An arresting set of US diplomatic cables from the Sanaa embassy have been released recently by Wikileaks concerning Saudi-Yemeni relations. They paint a picture of Yemen as a country President Ali Abdullah Saleh has reduced to vassal status with the “big brother” Saudi Arabia, which comes off as a spoiler that has done little good for the country. Many might wonder why Saleh as a Zaydi Shi’ite would facilitate Wahhabi (Salafi) influence in Yemen. An opposition academic seems to nail it in this comment – Wahhabi obedience to a “just” (Sharia-friendly) ruler (square brackets are mine): Continue reading SaudiLeaks: Yemen as vassal state, weapons for Saleh
An Aramco consultant says in 2006 Aramco will have trouble going past 12.5 bpd, but the US embassy notes Manifa field will make that possible sometime in the future. And former Aramco head Abdullah Juma pooh-poohs the Matt Simmons book from 2005 on Saudi oil production hitting its maximum production levels sooner than people think, Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy (Simmons died in slightly odd circumstances in 2010). However, Sadad al-Husseini, a former Aramco board member, tells US diplomats in Riyadh in December 2007 that Aramco has exaggerated Saudi reserves: a global output plateau will be reached in the next 5 to 10 years and will last some 15 years, until world oil production begins to decline. “While al-Husseini believes that Saudi officials overstate capabilities in the interest of spurring foreign investment, he is also critical of international expectations,” it says.
Here are the cables: Continue reading SaudiLeaks: ‘peak oil’ and Aramco’s 12.5 mln bpd
So this US cable from the Riyadh embassy in April 2007 – released on 26 June 2011 – outlines Saudi Interior Ministry fears that Iran could ruin Saudi oil production with even a “stupid” missile, in coordination with militant cells among the Shi’a population and Aramco employees. A Joint Working Group apparently involving CIA analysts, Interior Ministry officials, US diplomats and others. This and various other cables talks about Saudi Hizbollah as a reality. Interior Ministry Chief of Staff Major General Dr. Saad al Jabri “expressed his worries with a ‘layered’ attack by both military forces and terrorists, which could then be compounded by a Shi’a reaction in the Eastern Province. He stated, ‘we would like to be prepared for worst case scenarios, we do not want any surprises.'” Continue reading SaudiLeaks: 2007 fear of Iran attacking Saudi oil
This Wikileaks cable from May 2006 – one of the latest released concerning Saudi Arabia – is interesting in light of the uprisings: http://wikileaks.org/cable/2006/05/06RIYADH3312.html (released 2 July 2011). It appears to be the conclusion of considerable research by the embassy – and hats off to them for undertaking it, but not for doing nothing about it – on the situation of Shi’ites in the Eastern Province. It says the loyalty of most to the Saudi state is assured as long as the kingdom’s reform discourse continues. Leaders among Shi’ite communities returned to the country in the early 1990s in an agreement with King Fahd. The end of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and his persecution of Shi’a as of 2003 raised people’s hopes. Then in 2005 Abdullah became king. Things haven’t gone as planned though and with the Saudi response to the protest movement within Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the region, the image of King Reform is, let’s say, rather battered and bruised. I wonder what such a study would say were it conducted now. Continue reading SaudiLeaks: US reports on Shi’ite loyalties
Wikileaks are still publishing US diplomatic cables, often under the radar, as it were, because media have moved on to the Arab uprisings after the initial impact of the Wikileaks material. I’d like to draw some more attention to those concerning Saudi Arabia. This is the latest one, released on 21 July (from 19 Febuary 2008; http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/02/08BEIRUT271.html). It has been published in Arabic in al-Akhbar of Lebanon. What I found interesting about it is 1. the general conviction among Lebanese politicians the US diplomats talk to and probably US official themselves that Syria carried out or facilitated the assassination of Hizbollah operative Emad Mughniyeh in 2008 in order to move closer to the Western governments (which I’d heard before was the view of some Arab diplomats in London) and 2. Saudi paranoia. Al-Khoja, now minister of information, worries that it was a Syrian job to ingratiate themselves with the Americans and that in return the Special Tribunal investigation Rafiq al-Hariri’s murder will be allowed to drift down the US list of priorities. Behind this, it would appear, though it’s not stated directly, is the perma Al Saud fear of Washington making a deal someday with Iran. Khoja also believes Assad in Syria will approve Michel Suleiman as Lebanon’s new president as a ruse to get Arab leaders to turn up at the Damascus Arab summit that year, before then having him assassinated. Then charge d’affaires Michele Sison tries to discredit somewhat Khoja by referring to his “dramatic claims”. Continue reading SaudiLeaks: Khoja’s fear on Mughniyeh death