PARIS: The United States’ authoritarian allies in the Arab world have urged Washington to ignore human rights and take a more starkly aggressive stand against Islamist militants and Iran, leaked cables show.
According to stolen US State Department cables published by the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, Egypt advised the United States to forget about democracy in Iraq and instead to install a new dictator there, to stand up to Iran.
Meanwhile, Kuwait’s interior minister told a US ambassador his country did not want to see the return of Kuwaiti terror suspects held in Guantanamo Bay and suggested “the best thing to do is get rid of them.”
And Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah proposed implanting Guantanamo detainees with electronic chips to monitor their movements after their release.
In 2008, Mubarak reminded visiting US congressmen he had advised Washington against the 2003 invasion of Iraq to depose dictator Saddam Hussein, according to one of the leaked cables.
But now that they had troops in mainly Shia Iraq, American troops should not withdraw because that would only serve to strengthen Shia Iran next door. Instead, he said, they should build an Iraqi national security state.
“Strengthen the armed forces, relax your hold, and then you will have a coup. Then we will have a dictator, but a fair one. Forget democracy, the Iraqis by their nature are too tough,” said Mubarak, according to the cable.
The exchange between Kuwaiti Interior Minister Sheikh Jaber Khaled Al-Sabah and the US envoy to Kuwait took place in February last year.
Washington was urging Kuwait to accept the return of Kuwaiti nationals who had been detained at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on suspicion of belonging to Jihadist militant groups fighting in Afghanistan.
“You know better than I that we cannot deal with these people,” the minister protested, arguing that Kuwait is a small and tight-knit society where family ties hold more sway than any legal measure he could take.
“I can’t detain them. If I take their passports, they will sue to get them back. I can talk to you next week about building a rehabilitation center, but it won’t happen,” the sheikh said, according to the leaked cable.
“We are not Saudi Arabia. We cannot isolate these people in desert camps or somewhere on an island. We cannot compel them to stay. If they are rotten, they are rotten and the best thing to do is get rid of them,” he said.
“You picked them up in Afghanistan: You should drop them off in Afghanistan, in the middle of the war zone.”
The ambassador also asked the Kuwaiti minister’s advice as to what should have been done with seven Iranian hashish smugglers that were rescued by the US navy when their boat was found sinking in the waters of the Gulf.
In that case, US forces returned the seven to Iran via authorities in Oman, but the minister suggested they might not have been so lucky had they been picked up by the Kuwaiti Coast Guard.
“God wished to punish them for smuggling drugs by drowning them, and then you saved them. So they’re your problem! You should have let them drown,” the minister suggested, “smiling broadly,” according to the cable.
In March 2009, Saudi King Abdullah came up with a less callous and more innovative way of dealing with released Guantanamo detainees by implanting electronic chips to monitor their movements, according to a leaked memo.
“I’ve just thought of something,” Abdullah blurted during a March 2009 meeting with White House counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan.
The two were discussing the fate of 99 Yemenis still held at the time in the controversial US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The king proposed the prisoners be implanted with electronic microchips so that after their release they can be tracked “with Bluetooth” technology, the leaked US embassy report on the meeting said.
Abdullah explained that “this was done with horses and falcons,” according to the memo. But “horses don’t have good lawyers,” Brennan replied.