Wikileaks report Saudi students’ “diplomatic briefing” at Israeli Embassy worries Riyadh

There’s concern in Riyadh over Saudi students who visited the Israeli Embassy in Washington with int’l leadership program, and “heard a diplomatic briefing, asked questions & even had their picture taken.”


Saudi Arabia is extremely concerned over the dozens of Saudi students who reportedly visited the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Wikileaks documents published this weekend claim.

The Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. [file photo] – Photo: AFP

In one leaked source dated August 14, 2008 and marked “urgent, classified,” the Foreign Ministry in Riyadh notified the Saudi embassy in Washington that several dozen students from Gulf states were visiting Israeli embassies as part of an international leadership program.

The document claimed that the students who had visited the Israeli Embassy had “heard a diplomatic briefing, asked questions and even had their picture taken.” The Foreign Ministry asked its embassies to provide updates on the situation.

Beyond the concern over Saudi students coming into contact with Israeli officials, the 60,000 documents exposed on Saturday focus on Saudi concerns over Iran and its influence in the Middle East.

An undated memo apparently sent from the Saudi Embassy in Tehran made note of what it called the “frustration of the Iranian citizen and his strong desire for regime change” and suggested ways to publicly expose Iran’s social grievances through “the Internet, social media, like Facebook and Twitter.” It also suggests “hosting opposition figures overseas, coordinating with them and encouraging them to use galleries to show pictures of torture carried by the Iranian regime against people.”

The Saudis also kept a watchful eye on Iran’s friends, real or perceived. One 2012 memo warned that Iran was getting “flirting American messages,” suggesting that the U.S. had no objections to a peaceful Iranian nuclear program so long as it had guarantees, “possibly Russian ones.”

Another memo, dated to 2012, accuses the United Arab Emirates of helping Russia and Iran circumvent international sanctions. A third memo — marked “top secret” — alleges that Iranian fighter jets bombed South Sudanese forces during a 2012 standoff over the oil-rich area of Heglig.

The Iranian Embassy in London did not immediately answer a request for comment Saturday.

There are many such hard-to-confirm stories in the Saudi documents.

One of the most inflammatory memos carries the claim that Gulf countries were prepared to pay $10 billion to secure the freedom of deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The memo, written on a letterhead bearing only a single palm tree and crossed blades above the words “top secret,” quotes an unnamed Egyptian official as saying that the Muslim Brotherhood would agree to release Mubarak in exchange for the cash, “since the Egyptian people will not benefit from his imprisonment.”

Although the document is undated, the political situation it describes suggests it was drafted in 2012, when the Brotherhood appeared poised to take power. Senior Brotherhood official Mohammed Morsi served as Egypt’s first freely elected president from June 2012 to July 2013 before being ousted by the military.

It is not clear if the idea of paying the Brotherhood to secure Mubarak’s release ever coalesced into a firm offer. A handwritten note at the top left of the document says the ransom “is not a good idea.”

“Even if it is paid the Muslim Brotherhood will not be able to do anything regarding releasing Mubarak,” the note’s unknown author writes. “It seems there are no alternatives for the president but to enter prison.”


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