In Wikileaks' latest expose, Iraq was termed the most discussed country. But it seems to be Iraq's neighbor and its arch nemesis - Iran that seems to hold the pole position, although for the wrong reasons, in the Middle East. While Iraq has been spoken about the most due to obvious reasons, the new spill on the whistleblower website, which has been dubbed as the 'Cablegate, shows that Iran plagued and troubled several countries.
The latest leak includes confidential communications between 274 embassies in countries across the globe as well as the State Department. The cables date from 1966 up until the end of February 2010.
From the pre-Gulf war request from Iran for accelerated delivery of one squadron of F-4Es in 1972 in the wake of growing Iraqi and Soviet co-operation, to the most recent move by Washington to mobilize pressure to persuade Iran's engagement on its nuclear program - WikiLeaks inadvertently documents the ups and downs of the US-Iran relationship. But most importantly the expose has brought to light the worries of numerous countries over Iran and its activities.
Among the secrets that emerged from the Wikileaks' new leak, the international media has also paid particular attention to how US was urged to attack Iran. The trouble seems to have stemmed in 2005, when Iran's rivals began raising voice against the country's growing military power, its nuclear interests and the threat it posed to stability of the region due to its association with terrorist organizations.
Iran has decided to go nuclear and nothing will stop it, Mossad Chief Meir Dagan, who commanded a temporarily-formed undercover commando unit - Saveret Rimon, formed to combat the increasing insurgent violence in the Palestinian territories, is quoted as telling US Senator Jon Corzine in a March 2005 document.
In another March 2005 cable, Israel is found raising concerns over Iran as the primary threat to its security and sees the enrichment cycle as the point of no return for Tehran's nuclear weapons program. Israel, however, did not consider the military option.
Despite frustrations with diplomatic efforts, Israeli officials are understandably reluctant to discuss possible military options. In public, PM Sharon has stressed the importance of the political and economic track.
In May 2005, Abu Dhabi sought to caution US against Iran by voicing certainty that the EU-3 efforts with Iran would break down and that Iran would resume its nuclear activities.
Appearing convinced that it was only a matter of time before Israel or the U.S. would strike Iranian nuclear facility targets, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed warned that U.S. installations in the Gulf could be targeted by Iran in the aftermath of such an action.
In 2006, an increasingly nervous UAE yet again reiterated, Although the UAE regards Iran as one of its most serious threats to national security, UAE officials are reluctant to take actions that could anger their neighbor and compromise their extensive trading relationship. At the same time, we are seeing more of a willingness on the part of the UAE to support USG initiatives without the full approval of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
In 2007, UK Ambassador to Tehran Geoffrey Adams held a series of meetings with U.S. Embassy Baghdad and MNF-I officials. Ambassador Adams, who advised on being steady and firm, tough but not aggressive while dealing with Iranians, also outlined Iran's preconceptions and its obsession with and mistrust of the West, according to the confidential 2007 cable posted on Wikileaks. The British ambassador stressed that the goal is to institutionalize talks with the U.S. and keep open the possibility of broadening the agenda.
In the same year, Under Secretary Burns held meeting with Dubai's Ruler Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who not only expressed willingness to cooperate in financial restrictions against Iran, also repeated this offer with regard to military transfers. He, however, urged that the cooperation be conducted quietly, as he was worried about potential negative impact of economic sanctions on Dubai, and against the good Iranians
As worries over Iran's arm power continued to loom large over the Middle East, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan tried to woo CentCom Commander General John Abizaid into agreeing to give UAE weapons to counter any threat from Iran.
Agreeing that it is only a matter of time before the Iranians develop or acquire advanced weapons technologies, including MTCR-controlled UAV technology, the document said, adding that Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan asserted - That's why we need it first . . . give me Predator B. Predator B is an unmanned surveillance and multi-purpose aircraft.
In his next meeting with Chief of Staff USAF General T. Michael Moseley in Feb 2007, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was told that the issue of Predator B would require further discussion within the interagency and with our MTCR partners. The Ambassador, however, noted that the USG looked forward to discussion of UAE defense requirements and our shared security objectives in the context of the Gulf Security Dialogue.
A 2008 cable from Embassy Muscat stated that Oman reviewed its stance on Itran as it was wary of Iranian expansionism. The document also quoted Minister of the Royal Office and head of the Office of the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Ali bin Majid al-Ma'amari, as saying that Kuwait, Bahrain, and Qatar were the only three Gulf countries that probably would want the U.S. to strike Iran.
Meanwhile, US began acting on Saudi's requests for recommendations on how to increase the pressure on Iran.
In April 2009, US was yet again warned of the power of Iran. Seeking action against Iran, Jordan had called on America to cut off Iranian tentacles. The metaphor most commonly deployed by Jordanian officials when discussing Iran is of an octopus whose tentacles reach out insidiously to manipulate, foment, and undermine the best laid plans of the West and regional moderates.
While Jordanian officials doubt dialogue with the U.S. will convince Iran to withdraw its tentacles, they believe they can be severed if Iran is deprived of hot-button issues that make it a hero to many on the Arab street, such as its championing of the Palestinian cause, a cable from Embassy Amman said.
This was followed by a brief change in tone between US and Iran over reports of the Iranian government's decision to remove anti-American slogans and art from Tehran's buildings.
These changes could represent an important indicator on Tehran's views towards engagement with the US, the Secretary of State said.
However, the move did not leave its effects for long as the UAE and Israel continued to mount pressure on the United States.
In fact, China was also brought into the scene in January 2010, when Saudi foreign ministry sought to pressurize China into putting an end to Iranian proliferation.
When the Chinese Foreign Minister replied that China will not accept Iran's development of nuclear weapons, Saud Al-Faisal told him that China will have to work more closely with the rest of the world and the UN Security Council to prevent this from happening.
Meanwhile, the US secretary of State sent out an action request. Iran's lack of constructive response so far, and its continued reluctance to cooperate with international efforts to build confidence and transparency in its nuclear program, demand a response, said that United States on the behalf of all its partners.
Another cry came from Kuwait in Feb 2010. This time it was not about Iran's nuclear activities. Interior Minister Jaber Al-Khaled Al Sabah raised alarm over Iranian actions, particularly in Yemen with the Houthis, a separatist group of Zaidi Shia.
In the same month, US and Russia held joint threat perception talks. Russia, which gave detailed presentations on its assessment of the Iranian and North Korean missile programs, and the degree to which it believes these programs constitute threats requiring missile defense responses, concluded that neither program constitutes a threat at the moment or in the near future.
All these documents have effectively thrown light on the fear that Iran provokes the Middle East and the rest of the world. While the fear stems from the fact that the country does not bow to any sort of diplomatic pressure on its nuclear program, there are several reasons why Iran is key to the stability of not only the Midlle East but also to the world. Some of the factors that give Iran this pull of sorts are:
- Iran is the second largest oil producer in OPEC and has significant reserves of natural gas. Southern provinces like Bushehr and Khouzestan are extremely oil rich. If Iran is angered, then the world would risk a disturbance to global oil supply. If this occurs, then an already fragile world economy will take a beating.
- With the area of 1,648,195 km, Iran shares its borders with Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Turkey. If the stability of this country is hampered leading to any civil unrest, then the neighbours would be disturbed. This could lead to a mass wave of refugees across any one of these borders, which also could destabilize the entire region.
- The location of Iran is also of prime importance. The country lies not only in the Middle East but also in the Euroasia region, which connects to Russia from the Caspian Sea and from the Persian Gulf to Arabian countries. It, therefore, holds a strong strategic geo-political importance.
- As the world stands shaken with terrorism and extremism, Iran poses as a huge danger due to its associations with a variety of terrorist organizations across the Middle East.