NBC Reports On Reaction To New Wiki-Leaks Abroad
MSNBC.COM - Following the release of more than 250,000 classified State Department documents, foreign capitals are beginning to respond to how they were seen through the lens of local U.S. diplomats.
While U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admitted that confidential reports by diplomats about other foreign diplomats is basically what diplomacy is and has been going on for hundreds of years, there will surely be a few bruised egos abroad.
For instance, Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was quick to say that he does not attend the "wild parties" alleged by U.S. diplomats in Rome, but that he hosts "elegant and dignified" dinner parties.
Here are a few of the reactions compiled by NBC News correspondents and producers in Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Germany.
By Charlene Gubash, NBC News Producer
CAIRO – In the Arab World, where much of the press is muzzled by all powerful regimes, the public is normally obliged to guess at the reality behind the rhetoric since spokesmen rarely speak and press briefings are almost non-existent. But the WikiLeaks cables have provided a deliciously rare "behind closed doors" view of many Arab leaders.
"Thanks to Wikileaks, I felt like a child who was allowed to listen to grown-up conversations for the first time," gushed "The Sandmonkey," a prominent Egyptian blogger.
The region's favorite TV news venues – satellite channels Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya – reported extensively on the leaks implicating Arab leaders during Monday's broadcasts.
There were two items that were considered to be the most explosive: Saudi Arabian King Abdullah's repeatedly calling on the U.S. to strike Iran's nuclear sites and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak approaching Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before Israel's 2008 offensive on Gaza and asking if they would be willing to take over the Gaza Strip after the defeat of Hamas.
Some felt vindicated by the revelations. Hisham Kassem, former publisher of Egypt's first independent daily newspaper, Al Masry al Youm, says the leaked documents provide "further exposure of how rotten and double-faced the regimes are: the double standard of public discourse on one hand and what is said behind closed doors on the other."
Sandmonkey also blogged about how the cables proved the duplicity that had been suspected all along. "There is now evidence that Egypt is aiding Israel in isolating Hamas; that Mubarak has nothing but utter hatred for the Muslim Brotherhood and utter distrust towards Qataris and Syrians; that the entirety of the Arab Gulf region, including Qatar, are weary of Iran's lies and would love to see Iran gone or disarmed; and that they all would secretly support a strike on Iran from either the U.S. or Israel. The dichotomy between their rhetoric and actions was finally exposed as hypocritical and duplicitous to their people and the world."
Kassem believed the leaks would provoke only short-term public outrage, but that the real fallout will be between governments whose officials pointedly criticized each other to the U.S. in leaked documents.
Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, Bahrain's foreign minister, tweeted that the revelations "weakened diplomacy in general, U.S. diplomacy in particular."
Arab analysts in Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt concluded that Arab politicians won't change their policies but will be more guarded in their future conversations with U.S. officials. "They are just going to get better at covering up information," said Rania al Malky, editor-in-chief of the Daily News, an Egyptian English language newspaper.
Most observers believe that the public, now privy to the real state of affairs between their leaders and the U.S., will take the information in stride. "I think it is helpful, insightful and believable. It didn't tell us something which is unbelievable," said Mervat Mohsen, head of news at Nile TV. But he added that most Egyptians are too caught up in major issues, like unemployment, to care.
Al Malky said that while the average Egyptian may doubt the veracity of the leaked information, opposition groups "will use the information to make a case against the government to the bitter end."
In any case, Clinton will be able to assess the fallout, public and private, when she meets several of her Arab counterparts this weekend in Manama, Bahrain, where she will give the opening speech before the annual Manama Dialogue.
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