Yesterday, Foreign Policy’s Marc Lynch and Meris Lutz at the LA Times’s Babylon & Beyond blog both took a look at how Arab news media have covered the Wikileaks story so far (somewhat selectively, they found). Neither Lynch nor Lutz has updated since, so here’s a quick round-up of how a couple of news outlets are treating the story today (limited, just a little, by my inability to read Arabic).
The lede story online today at the (Saudi) Arab News is, “Cabinet commends king for success of Haj.” The most prominent reference to the Wikileaks story is a politial cartoon depicting Uncle Sam in a sweaty panic as Julian Assange saunters along (trailing, like Pig Pen’s dirt cloud, a ticking time bomb and an hour glass). Scroll down and you’ll find a column praising Assange, declaring that “Washington shies away from explaining itself in favor of shooting the messenger,” and noting in passing that the cables “show a regional nervousness concerning Iran’s increasing nuclear capability and the need to do something about it.” There is also a piece (headlined “Wikileaks cable release rattles US government”) reporting that the “Obama White House is in turmoil,” and quoting the Saudi Foreign Ministry dismissing the cables and declaring that “The Kingdom’s policies and positions have always been clear.”
New Wikileaks-related pieces online today at Al Jazeera English include: “China ‘backs Korean reunification’”, “Fatah ‘tipped off’ about Gaza War,” and “Ecuador offers refuge to Assange.” There is also an op-ed pondering, “What will Arab public think?” (sub-hed: “WikiLeaks ‘Embassy Files’ reveal gulf between Arab leaders and their constituencies.”) Writes Middle Eastern analyst Lamis Andoni:
In their conversations with American officials, Arab leaders refer to Iran as “a snake”, “evil” and “an octopus whose tentacles need to be severed” - presumably they are far more cautious in their labelling of Israel when talking to US diplomats.
Andoni concludes that the leaked cables “will further erode the image of Arab leaders in Arab public opinion and make it more difficult for them to publicly advocate a war against Iran,” and that “even if some of the fears expressed by Arab leaders are shared by segments of the Arab people, any official Arab attempt, beyond the closed doors of meetings with US officials, to make Iran, rather than Israel, the enemy will backfire.”