Cablegate Link Dump #16
Norway pressed into missile defense
January 5, 2011
The US put heavy pressure on the Norwegian government to go along with a missile defense program and apparently won support before the government made its compliance public. New disclosures from WikiLeaks documents, reported by Oslo newspaper Aftenposten, also reveal Israel’s goal to keep Gaza on the verge of economic collapse.
Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg (right) and Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre ultimately went along with a missile shield plan at the NATO summit in Lisbon last fall. PHOTO: Utenriksdepartementet/Frode Overland Andersen
As Aftenposten continues to report on the contents of documents, mostly American diplomatic cables, initially leaked to WikiLeaks, a disturbing picture has emerged indicating how government officials can say one thing publicly but something else behind the scenes. Not just in Washington, but in capitals all over the world including Oslo and Tel Aviv.
In the missile defense issue, for example, Norway’s left-center coalition government opposed it in writing in its policy platform (called Soria Moria I) published just after it first won election in 2005. The new Labour Party-led government at the time was committed to work towards scrapping plans at the time for the controversial missile defense system that the US wanted to set up in Europe. The Socialist Left party (SV) was most vigorously opposed to the missile defense, fearing it would threaten disarmament. None of the government coalition parties sensed any great interest no the part of the public in the missile defense issue, either.
According to one cable sent by the US Embassy in Oslo and reported by Aftenposten, the US then pressured Norwegian officials (external link), both inside and outside the government, to at least “counter Russian misstatements and distinguish Norway’s position from Russia’s to avoid damaging alliance solidarity.” US officials actively met with top politicians, journalists and allied embassies in Oslo to counter what they considered provocative criticism of the missile defense plan by the Russians.
“A shift of the broader public opinion is deemed not immediately likely but influencing political elites is within reach,” wrote former US Ambassador Benson K Whitney. “We believe focus on Russia’s threats to the alliance will resonate with the Norwegians’ general wariness towards their large neighbor.”
Norwegian government officials maintained what the US Embassy called their own “stated” public criticism of the missile defense plan, but Aftenposten reported that as early as 2007, some top government ministers were already privately letting the Americans know that missile defense ultimately wouldn’t be a problem, and by 2008 the Norwegians suggested that a NATO agreement securing missile protection for all member countries could sway the Norwegian government’s position. That’s what eventually was approved at last November’s NATO summit in Lisbon.
Meanwhile, WikiLeaks documents reported by Aftenposten also reveal harsh realities about Israeli policies towards Gaza. Government officials in Tel Aviv claimed their economic blockade of Gaza was based on self-defense, while it actually was aimed at keeping the Palestinian area on the verge of collapse.
As fears rise over a new armed conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, which won the Palestinian elections, Aftenposten reported Wednesday on a US Embassy cable (external link) from October 2008 that claimed that “Israeli officials have confirmed to Embassy officials on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis.” The Israeli government, according to the Americans, wanted “to keep potential sources of security threat off-balance” and minimize any economic or political gains for Hamas.
The US embassy officials “encouraged the GOI (Government of Israel) to review its policy on Gaza liquidity,” and urged the US “to assist the PA (Palestinian Authority) to improve its regulatory regimes and due diligence.” American diplomats admitted, however, that they didn’t expect any Israeli review to “result in any changes.” Two months later, the war in Gaza broke out, and the area is still struggling to recover from Israeli bombing.
WikiLeaks has turned into a torrent
January 4, 2011
Oslo newspaper Aftenposten continues to churn out stories related to the content of more than 250,000 diplomatic cables that the US had intended to keep secret. Among the topics: Sri Lankan dealings with Iran, alleged French espionage and German-US spy satellites, and Israel’s plans for war.
Here follows a summary of revelations emerging recently from the WikiLeaks documents to which Aftenposten has gained access:
French officials have been accused in American diplomatic cables of being behind more industrial espionage in Europe than both the Russians and the Chinese. In Norway, special police intelligence unit PST has warned that foreign firms are constantly on the lookout for valuable information about Norwegian products.
Among the notes written by the US ambassador in Berlin, the French were referred to as “the evil empire” when it comes to trying to steal technology, “and Germany knows it,” according to the director of a large German firm.
German intelligence agents are developing new secret spy satellites in cooperation with the US, according to reports from the US Embassy in Berlin. The satellites were being disguised as part of an environmental measure to help reverse climate change, but WikiLeaks documents reveal that they are capable of surveillance all over the globe, also underground.
German officials later denied the so-called HiROS (High Resolution Optical System) satellites were part of any military program and called reports they would be used for spying “humbug.”
Sri Lanka, during the final stages of its war against the Tamil Tigers (LTTE), was reportedly in negotiations to buy rocket launchers and other military equipment from both Iran and North Korea. US officials threatened Sri Lanka with costly sanctions if the weapons deals were carried out. Any purchases would have been in violation of UN resolutions against trade with either country.
Sri Lankan officials denied they were in the process of illegal weapon purchases, but the US ambassador in Colombo wasn’t convinced. There was no comment on any deals with North Korea.
Top Israeli military officials told a US Congressional delegation in November 2009 that Iran has 300 Shihab missiles that can reach Israel, and that the missile threat was more serious than ever before. Israel would have approximately 12 minutes to respond to an attack, and war would be underway.
The threat, revealed in WikiLeaks documents, explains why Israel puts such importance on missile defense. The documents also reveal that Israel is in the midst of full preparations for another war in the Middle East.
“We have not signed the confidentiality clause that hinders (the media outlets) from publishing stories without an explicit agreement with WikiLeaks,” Haugsgjerd wrote.
That sparked a reaction from journalists at The Guardian in the UK, which has been among the media outlets that secured access to the cables from WikiLeaks. Nick Davies of The Guardian’s editorial staff told the web site for Norway’s journalists’ union, Journalisten, that Assange has had “zero influence” on The Guardian’s editorial decisions regarding its use of the WikiLeaks cables.
Davies claimed that the agreement signed between The Guardian and WikiLeaks determined, in fact, that Assange would not have any influence, and he has not.
David Leigh, another editor at The Guardian, told Journalisten on Tuesday that his paper has all the cables as do the other newspapers in the original agreement with WikiLeaks. Leigh told Journalisten that the papers themselves have decided what they will publish, and when. After writing their stories, he said, edited copies of the relevant cables are sent to WikiLeaks (with some identities deleted, for example, for security reasons) so that WikiLeaks can publish the documents at the same time.
Wikileaks cables on Sri Lanka. Most of these were published in the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten (and not yet elsewhere).
GON: Government of Norway, GOJ: Government of Japan, GSL: Government of Sri Lanka, USG: US Government, MFA: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, FM: Foreign Minister, CFA: Cease Fire Agreement, LTTE: Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, SLMM: Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, TRO: Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation, IDP: Internally Displaced Person
2002-08-01 02COLOMBO1422 GSL minister cautiously optimistic on direction of peace process based on meeting with Tiger spokesman
The Tigers had requested the meeting and they seemed to want to make it work.
2002-11-26 02COLOMBO2195 OSLO MEETING REAPS LAVISH, UPBEAT PRESS COVERAGE; DEPUTY SECRETARYÂ´S REMARKS EARN PRAISE
Our preliminary assessment is that the Oslo meeting provided the peace process a solid boost.
2002-12-20 02COLOMBO2337 Import of radio equipment for Tamil Tigers sparks controversy for GSL and Norwegian facilitators
critics asserting that the government and the Norwegian facilitators have gone too far in pleasing the Tigers
2003-04-22 03COLOMBO688 Tigers announce they are suspending peace talks; GSL, most observers see move as tactical
Your government, as well as our facilitator Norway, are fully aware of the fact that the United States has legal constraints to invite representatives of a proscribed organization to their country.
2003-04-24 03COLOMBO705 In another negative signal, Tigers postpone meeting of key assistance committee
While the LTTE is broadcasting its views, it seems to have turned off the receive mode, however. Despite all the bad news, there is still not a sense of panic regarding the state of the peace process.
2003-05-06 03COLOMBO755 Norwegians, Japanese press Tigers to return to talks and to attend donors conference
So far, the Tigers are not playing ball.
2003-05-08 03COLOMBO773 Tigers meet Japanese envoy and are noncommittal about returning to talks
itÂ´s still not clear what the Tigers plan to do and whether they will be back in the ballgame soon
2003-05-16 03COLOMBO824 Norwegian FM presses Tigers, but no sign of give yet; Latest re cohabitation stresses
the president and the PM continue to bicker
2003-05-21 03COLOMBO851 Tigers issue hard-edged letter demanding interim structure in north/east
the sudden recrudescense of the interim structure idea raises real questions regarding the TigersÂ´ commitment to the [peace] process
2003-06-16 03COLOMBO1053 Tensions notch up over sinking of Tamil Tiger ship and latest slaying of a Tiger opponent
Kandiah Subathiran was shot and killed while exercising on the roof of his house
2003-07-15 03COLOMBO1262 Tigers still refusing request from monitors to vacate forward base; Another military informant killed
Haukland said the agreement makes clear that the military forces of the LTTE and the government cannot expand their zones of control during the ceasefire.
2003-08-11 03COLOMBO1399 Norwegian facilitator set to arrive to work on LTTE base issue; Tigers get ready for Paris meeting
Solheim will have to use all of his many wiles to convince [the LTTE] that their stance is self-defeating.
2003-10-23 03COLOMBO1845 President demands removal of chief monitor, but it is not clear how far she wants to push matter
If the president presses this matter, it will become a real cohabitation donnybrook
2003-11-04 03COLOMBO1902 Provoking political crisis, President fires three key ministers and suspends Parliament
The PresidentÂ´s action highlights her increasing volatility.
2003-11-05 03COLOMBO1918 President Affirms Commitment to Negotiated Settlement and Cease-fire
PM Wickremasinghe had “whined so much” about how he needed to put his own defense minister in to move forward on the peace process that “I gave it to him and have regretted it ever since.”
2003-11-12 03COLOMBO1956 Sri Lanka update: No resolution in “cordial” President-PM meeting; Norwegians here to meet all sides
Buddhist monks told the President she should have consulted with the PM prior to taking action.
2003-11-17 03COLOMBO1982 Possible ways forward in political standoff between Sri Lankan President and Prime Minister
Several options remain available to resolve the imbroglio
2004-03-06 04COLOMBO406 Sri Lanka: Ignoring orders of LTTE leadership, rebel commander remains ensconced in east
KarunaÂ´s split from the main LTTE organization appears to be the most serious internal crisis ever faced by the group.
2004-03-15 04COLOMBO456 Norwegian Special Envoy Solheim reviews latest on LTTE split and discusses upcoming election
there is great uncertainty over how the Karuna matter will play out
2004-04-15 04COLOMBO644 In meeting, Norwegian Ambassador reviews recent discussion with President on peace process
Norway expects a formal request from the GSL to continue its role as peace facilitator.
2004-06-09 04COLOMBO953 Recent meetings show the way forward for Sri Lanka peace process is troubled
the two sides are moving further apart
2004-06-17 04COLOMBO1013 Talks about Talks in Stasis while Norwegians Ponder Next Moves
Both sides have rejected a Norwegian compromise formulation
2004-06-23 04COLOMBO1062 NORWEGIAN PEREGRINATIONS FOR PEACE
LTTE distrust is so deep that they will not move forward without “something solid.”
2004-09-20 04COLOMBO1558 NORWEGIAN ENVOY SOLHEIM FINDS GSL AND LTTE COMMITTED TO PEACE PROCESS
Solheim said that Thamilchelvan complained about “bias” from the international community. … (COMMENT: Good, the Tigers are getting the message.)
2004-11-29 04COLOMBO1919 NORWEGIANS CONCERNED BY JVP-ORCHESTRATED CAMPAIGN AGAINST THEM
`The Norwegian Government has thus openly contravened the United Nations Resolution 1373 of 2001 relating to the suppression of terrorism.’
2004-12-06 04COLOMBO1948 “LOW KEY” NORWEGIAN VISIT TO WANNI; THREE CO-CHAIRS TO DISCUSS JVP ANTI-NORWAY CAMPAIGN WITH PRESIDENT
Co-chair representatives agreed that Japan, the EU and the U.S. would call on President Kumaratunga to express concern over the JVP-orchestrated anti-Norway campaign.
2005-08-18 05COLOMBO1453 SRI LANKA: NORWEGIAN FACILITATORS SEND LETTER TO LTTE LEADER PRABHAKARAN VIA LONDON, GSL ASKS EU TO LIST LTTE AS TERRORIST ORGANIZATION
The EU missions in Colombo plan to endorse the idea strongly to Brussels.
2006-01-23 06COLOMBO137 U/S BURNS REVIEWS SRI LANKAN PEACE PROCESS WITH NORWEGIAN FACILITATOR ERIK SOLHEIM
Burns expressed U.S. support for the Norwegian facilitation effort
2006-05-25 06COLOMBO872 TOKYO CO-CHAIRS PRE-MEETINGS
Unexpectedly, Netherlands Ambassador Van Dijk said that a Co-Chairs statement should not mention “terrorism,” … Van Dijk’s position seemed to surprise everyone, and Ambassador strongly refuted it.
2006-06-23 06COLOMBO1047 NORWEGIANS RUNNING OUT OF STEAM, EU MONITORS TO LEAVE IN 30 DAYS
Norwegians more depressed than we have ever seen them.
2007-05-18 07COLOMBO728 SRI LANKA: GSL COMPLICITY IN PARAMILITARY FACTIONS’ HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES
President Rajapaksa’s government, strapped for cash, has cut direct payments to paramilitaries initiated by former President Kumaratunga and instead turns a blind eye to extortion and kidnapping for ransom by EPDP and Karuna.
2007-06-12 07COLOMBO830 SRI LANKA: TAMIL TIGERS SIPHON OFF PART OF INTERNATIONAL RELIEF FUNDS
The TRO representative withdraws the money from the local NGO’s account, provides a cut to the LTTE, and distributes the rest to accomplish the particular project
2009-05-12 09COLOMBO516 SRI LANKA: PROCUREMENT OF LETHAL MILITARY EQUIPMENT FROM NORTH KOREA AND IRAN
points concerning possible GSL purchase
2009-07-13 09COLOMBO695 DOCTORS RECANT EYEWITNESS ACCOUNTS OF CIVILIAN CASUALTIES
The doctors said they were “pressured” by the LTTE to release the casualty figures during the fighting, and that in reality the number of killed and wounded civilians was much lower. Many international observers doubt the veracity of this “confession”
2009-08-24 09COLOMBO830 DOCTORS FROM NO-FIRE ZONE RELEASED ON BAIL
Four government doctors, held by the police Criminal Investigation Division since the end of the war in May for allegedly filing false reports on civilian casualties in the No-Fire Zone during the last several months of the war, were released on bail today.
2009-10-21 09COLOMBO968 SRI LANKA DENIES NEGOTIATIONS TO PROCURE LETHAL MILITARY EQUIPMENT FROM IRAN
Notwithstanding the DG,s vehement denial of GSL procurements and negotiations from Iran, the GSL,s recent interactions with Iranian military officials raise questions.
2010-01-15 10COLOMBO32 SRI LANKA WAR-CRIMES ACCOUNTABILITY: THE TAMIL PERSPECTIVE
accountability has not been a high-profile issue
2010-01-22 10COLOMBO50 SRI LANKA: ASSESSING PROGRESS ON KEY ISSUES
U.S. assistance to Sri Lanka, particularly military assistance, is tied to progress by the Government of Sri Lanka (GSL) on several key issues, including treatment of IDPs, human rights, political reconciliation, and accountability for alleged crimes perpetrated by GSL troops and officials during the war with the LTTE.
2009-05-07 09LONDON1082 SRI LANKA: UPDATE ON UK ACTION AND THINKING
Waite said that with UK elections on the horizon and many Tamils living in Labour constituencies with slim majorities, the UK Government is paying particular attention to Sri Lanka
2006-04-11 06OSLO467 “GRIM” PROSPECTS FOR SRI LANKA PEACE TALKS
Geneva Two will likely be postponed, if not canceled.
2006-06-12 06OSLO759 SRI LANKA TALKS DISINTEGRATE IN OSLO
the talks did not occur for a variety of reasons, including the LTTE’s … dissatisfaction with the EU’s recent designation of the LTTE as a terrorist organization
2009-05-08 09STATE46946 SRI LANKA NEGOTIATING TO PROCURE LETHAL MILITARY EQUIPMENT FROM NORTH KOREA AND IRAN
Some of these proposed arms imports appear to violate UNSCR 1718.
2006-05-31 06TOKYO2987 CO-CHAIRS APPEAL TO SRI LANKA TO PULL BACK FROM CRISIS
the history of Sri Lanka shows that war is not winnable for either side
Sweden joins Norway in alleging US embassies spied on citizens
People linked with the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm have performed surveillance activities in Sweden without the knowledge of the host nation’s authorities, a government officials said Saturday.
The surveillance has been going on since 2000, but Swedish authorities are still not aware of how widespread the practice was, said Justice Minister Beatrice Ask. “It seems as though we haven’t been fully informed and that’s not good,” Ask said.
Ask said it is not clear whether Swedish law has been violated, but that she expects U.S. authorities to cooperate with the Swedish investigation on the matter.
TV 2 revealed Wednesday night that the United States in the deepest secrecy has built up an intelligence group to systematically monitor the Norwegians. TV 2 has identified seven of the total of 15-20 people who have worked for the Americans. But Thursday was TV 2 handed over a list of four additional names from a secret source.