This comment was published in The Guardian on 29/11/2010
The relentless global mobilisation of US power against Iran – and of Washington-backed Arab autocracies and dictatorships for an American attack on Tehran – is an ominous thread that runs through thousands of the leaked state department WikiLeaks cables published in the Guardian.
Not only do they underline the danger represented by the threat of aggression against Iran over its nuclear programme, which of course Tehran insists is for peaceful purposes only; but the repeated private demands by the Saudi king Abdullah to "cut off the head of the snake" – backed up by Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain (and, of course, Israel) – also serve to drive home the utterly unrepresentative nature of the client Arab regimes that underpin western power in the Middle East.
While the Arab rulers fear Iran and want the US to attack it, the majority of their people support Iran's nuclear programme and believe it would be "positive" for the region if Iran did develop nuclear weapons – according to the most recent poll carried out by the US Zogby polling organisation and Maryland University in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and other pro-western Arab states. Asked which countries threatened their security, 88% replied Israel, 77% the US and just 10% Iran.
No doubt Saudi and Egyptian leaders will be more careful about what they say to American ambassadors in future.
But then they're not the only ones. Now it's emerged from the WikiLeaks cables that Hillary Clinton has instructed US embassy staff around the world to spy on UN staff and leaders, as well as a wide range of political, business and religious figures, down to their biometric and credit card details. Plenty of others who meet US diplomats are likely to keep a closer eye on their pockets.