Wikileaks controversy: Ahmadinejad claims revelations a US conspiracy
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president, dismissed WikiLeaks revelations yesterday that Arab countries demanded a US attack on his country as an orchestrated attempt by Washington to destabilise the Middle East.
The Iranian leader who has led Tehran's resistance to UN sanctions against its nuclear programme suggested that WikiLeaks was an American tool to plant misinformation around the world.
Reports that the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states had repeated pressed US officials to strike against Iran were ridiculed a press conference by the Iranian leader as effort to pit the country against its "Arab brothers".
"Let me first correct you. The material was not leaked, but rather released in an organised way," said Mr Ahmadinejad. "We don't give any value to these documents," President Ahmadinejad said. "It's without legal value. Iran and regional states are friends. Such acts of mischief have no impact on relations between nations."
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia urged America to cut the head of the snake, while the leaders of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates also urged a military solution. The Sunni Muslim monarchies fear that a nuclear capable Shia Muslim state would wield supremacy in the Middle East.
But stung by the leaking of the revelations, government officials maintained a strict wall of silence yesterday, fearful of a popular backlash for advocating military action in a region still resentful of the US war in Iraq.
However analysts close to Gulf governments said the report comments, some noted as late as February, were a true gauge of government anxiety over a strong Iran.
"I think it confirms that the [Gulf] states are all more united on the anti-Iranian front than previously disclosed," said Theodore Karasik, a Dubai-based analyst.
Khaled al-Dakhil, a Saudi security expert said Iran should take the revelations as a warning that its neighbours were exhausted by its aggressive foreign policy. "I don't think Iran takes at face value public declarations coming from the Gulf, whether for a war or not – just as Gulf leaders do not believe declarations about how peaceful the Iranian nuclear programme is," he said.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, was one of the few government leaders to discuss the detail of the leaks, warning that US diplomatic exchanges with allies including Israel could be scaled back as a result of the leak.
He anticipated potential embarrassment for Arabs leadership. "In such matters (diplomacy) there is usually a gap between what is said in public and what is said in private. In Israel the gaps aren't so large, but in some of the other countries in the region the gaps are very large," Mr Netanyahu said. "Leaders should be ready to tell their people the truth."
But Israel also expressed satisfaction that its claims that the Gulf states were supporting its position on Iran had been vindicated. "We come out looking very good," a senior government official. "They confirm that the whole Middle East is terrified by the prospect of a nuclear Iran."
WikiLeaks failed to derail efforts to resume talks between Iran and world powers. Mr Ahmadinejad said Iran and Baroness Ashton had agreed on a date for the first talks on the nuclear programme in months – thought to be Dec 5.