Initial information from Wikileaks’ Saudi cables

Cables leaked from its Interior Ministry appear to reveal the extent of Saudi Arabia’s funding of various media outlets. This emerges from WikiLeaks’ leak of over 61,000 documents published on Friday, which are the first of around half a million to be released over the coming weeks, and are expected to be embarrassing to the kingdom and its allies

One of the documents (see: https://www.wikileaks.org/saudi-cables/doc124708.html) apparently sent from the Interior Ministry to the Ministry of Culture and Media in 2010 approves payments to media outlets across the region. Newspapers and sites in Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, the UAE, Lebanon and Mauritania reportedly received sums of up to $32,000 each per year, in massive subscriptions which are intended, in the words of Wikileaks, “to control Arab media” (see: https://wikileaks.org/saudi-cables/buying-silence).

However, this is not limited to the Arab world. In Australia, massive subscriptions are made to the Telegraph, the Middle East East Times and other publications (see: https://www.wikileaks.org/saudi-cables/doc116429.html). In Canada this also applies to various publications (see: https://www.wikileaks.org/saudi-cables/doc117189.html). Many other publications across the world are also involved (see: https://www.wikileaks.org/saudi-cables/doc118126.html, and: https://www.wikileaks.org/saudi-cables/doc123389.html).

Furthermore, payments are made to Burundian politicians with control over local radio stations. (see: https://www.wikileaks.org/saudi-cables/doc116887.html), and most extraordinarily payments have been made to out-of-favour reformist Iranian politician Ata’ollah Mohajerani for his son Ali to be able to complete his PhD at Warwick University, Coventry UK, at a cost of £12,115 p.a. for four years plus £4,256 p.a. housing expenses, payments totalling some $65,000 altogether (see: https://wikileaks.org/saudi-cables/doc1322.html, and, more generally: https://wikileaks.org/saudi-cables/search?q=%D9%85%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A&exclude_words=&types[]=1&types[]=2&types[]=3#results).

During the Arab Spring in 2011, the cables show concern that Egyptian newspapers were being driven by public opinion rather than turning around and driving it themselves (see: https://www.wikileaks.org/saudi-cables/doc124314.html). The idea, also displayed in the cables, of paying Egyptian authorities $10 billion in the period just before Mohamed Morsi came to power, in order to release Hosni Mubarak from prison (see: http://different-traditions.com/?p=2633) obviously came to nothing. However, clearly the very thought suggests the importance of the old dictator for the Saudi rulers.

Clearly, much more information is on its way.