Posted by: Dawud Israel | December 17, 2010

Muslims and Wikileaks: A Guide for the Perplexed

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
-George Orwell, 1984

Getting Acquainted with the Wikileaks literature:

With all the furor about Wikileaks I thought it would be a good idea to start studying them. I’ve started compiling and saving some of the cable documents here at Ummah Leaks relating to Muslims and the Muslim world. My hope is that I’ll piece together a bigger picture, come up with some conclusions of my own, and who knows maybe even a plan of action…like some really amateur, hypothetical, imaginary-Caliphate intelligence agency! Haha!

For those of you who are a little behind, you can read the cable gate documents through any one of the mirror websites (the original website was taken down…along with a number of mirrors). And then you can run a search engine search using a google site search (site: website address/ “key term”) or browse through them using the name of the city that the cables would’ve originated from or by release date. Also worthwhile is the leaked Congressional Research Service (Congress’s think-tank) documents that were leaked back in 2009 easily found here. You can also follow The Guardian’s up-to-date coverage of the cables (but be a little skeptical of their one-line summaries). And to get a better idea about who Assange is you can read his personal blog or watch this documentary about Wikileaks. Just so you know, Assange was hacking and had a backdoor into US military security when he was 21, so it may be he knows a few secrets himself that he hasn’t released (I’ll hold off on making fun of his somewhat geeky persona).

It seems that with the revelation of Wikileaks, that the government is testing the waters; there is an opportunity for governments to see how people will react…and thus far, the reaction is telling. There is definitely talk but there is very little action in terms of real change- the purported goal of Wikileaks. That should lead us to ask: what to do with all this information? This is definitely not the same as finding out there was a Groupon coupon hidden away from you, but of finding out about how ugly our world has become and what ugliness is necessary to prevent it from becoming uglier. This intel can be used to try and hold governments to account, but how? The Wikileaks founders have taken the route of relying on journalists to get the word out and hopefully shake the US government up. Its easy to see how Wikileaks Cablegate wouldn’t ‘shtick’ and only make us more and more desensitized, and thus giving governments further license for dubious behavior. My contention is that these cables should be leaked, if anywhere, into a courtroom, where there is gravity to their content, besides mere gossip.

Naturally it has raised a flurry of questions about the utility of journalism, questions of government secrecy and trust, accountability and the ethics of transparency (to learn more about that visit Personal Democracy Forum). One can easily blame Obama’s allergic reaction to Cablegate as a sign of government shadiness, yet, it is quite a natural response since this is the first time something like this, or at least at this scale has ever happened. In the past there has been ‘targeted leaking’ in the case of the Iraq videos, where it is clear how the government should react- morally that is- but here its thousands of leaks, some secret, some sensitive, some banal…what does one make of them? From a Muslim view, we can pause and ignore the hypocrisy of certain puritan Muslim royalty, we can indulge for a moment and imagine how would the righteous Khalifs respond, and how they would deal with it? And it isn’t hard to imagine the scrupulous documentation of the Prophet’s life would carry over to scrupulous record of the righteous Caliphs lives and keep everything as open and as transparent as possible due to the fact that Allah is All-Seeing.

Israel behind Wikileaks?

Some Muslims, not knowing what to make of the Wikileaks and/or from probably not having read through them carefully, have started to claim that Wikileaks is in league with Israel, especially since the documents have come to support the American/Israeli agenda against Iran. I would attribute that not to the Wikileaks documents, but the media in how it distorts and conflates facts with suspicion and sensationalism. It would be good to read about how this has happened and what the Arab leaders REALLY think about Iran. Back to the point about Israel: Firstly, it would be too quick and too easy to conclude Israel is behind this or has a part to play in it, since there have been some damaging cables regarding Israel (see below). Secondly, Israel has always covered its tracks and been smarter than most governments in ensuring their security, it is clear that with the assets abroad that Israel has they can afford to look bad. Thirdly, Assange’s mention of Netanyahu is because they both support government transparency, although it’s clear Netanyahu supports it because he feels he can do as he pleases! And lastly, its not necessary Israel be behind Wikileaks from the start, but as long as an influence is exerted on the media, the final message the public receives can be twisted and distorted to their choosing. I contend that having Muslims dismiss the Wikileaks cables as a Zionist conspiracy is MORE beneficial to Israel’s interests–making Muslims look paranoid, clueless and out-of-the-loop and all the easier to manipulate and alienate from involvement and engagement.

Nonetheless, is there a possibility that Wikileaks is some sort of big psy-op (and some have already started alleging and implying it could be) especially due to a certain comment by Assange about 9/11? Of course, its possible, but maybe some part of us wants to believe that? In any case, we should keep it in the back of our minds as a running question. But let’s explore the possibility Wikileaks is a big psy-op. Let’s say Wikileaks is a psy-op, then it would be a good idea to keep Assange alive, and control the dissent- in other words, control the symbol of dissent. If, however, Assange was martyred– then big government would be instantly held as guilty of destroying democracy, and the masses would rush to hold the governments accountable– and widespread outrage would ensue. I wonder if this has occurred to others, but that is my own personal prediction. The other trajectory is that some Wikileaks people have defected and created their own project, called OpenLeaks and this suggest that Assange’s influence will decrease.

EDIT: Wikileaks has just recently stated they will release 3,700 Israel-related documents: “There 2,500 files related to Mossad and I have read only 1,000. So I don’t know about everything, I need more journalists including Arabs to read and analyze and put everything in the context for the benefit of the readers.” That should really scare Israel and I’m pretty sure Mossad will go after Assange!

A few surface observations on reading the Cablegate documents:

There are some things about Wikileaks documents that are inherently true, in that they do undeniably reveal some ugly things about how US imperialism operates and the “logic” behind it. 

-Intel sees people not as Muslim or Jewish, but as people- it sees right through people, spots their vulnerabilities, habits, reduce their personality to something that can be predicted, seek out how they can be manipulated, tricked, like shaytan would. Its clear any sign of backbone is seen as a threat and reason for further investigation and intelligence gathering- this is why Turkey’s Erdrogan is discussed thoroughly in the Cablegate documents.

-It’s easy to read the Cablegate naively and gullibly but its best to read in between the lines and with caution. If anything, what they do tell us is the standard of forethought, analysis and shrewdness that is needed in running a government, global super-power.

-Muslims as minorities: The USA is very concerned about Arabs/Muslims in France, where commitment to secularism has made few French to classify the North African immigrants as Muslims, but rather as simply immigrants. Related to that is a discussion about relations between the US and Muslims in Brazil, where the large population of Muslims is seen as a study group or experiment into how Islam will play out in other Western countries– the key term to watch out for here is MMC or Muslim Minority Country. This is telling because the US has been concerned for a while about the Muslim sympathizers in Latin America– Nicaraguan Sandinista have some relationship with the PLO, and recently Brazil and Argentina recognized Palestine as a country.

-It’s somewhat sickening to see that the politics of the Middle East can come down to something as trivial as the jealousy over the attention the USA awards to these Arab leaders. It’s also pitiful to read that Egypt’s Mubarak understands American Utilitarianism in dealing with the Palestnian “problem” is the only reason why he is in power.

The Vatican and the USA: The United States is ready to see the Vatican as a nation-state, but not a Khalifate? It’s also important to note that the Church behaves much like the USA, on a tit-for-tat basis, for example, not protesting against the Croat Nationalist Clergy in Bosnia because of their loyalty during the Cold War (remember the Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam reprimanded Khalid bin al-Walid radiallahu anhu). If a Khilafa were alive today- in these geopolitical conditions- would it behave like the Vatican- whether forced by circumstances or not? It’s also interesting to note how the Pope’s policy’s are influenced by what culture he hails from (Italian, Latin American, Asian or African). Just some thoughts to reflect on while imagining a righteous Muslim government in today’s world…

-Vulnerable sites in the US war-fighting operation? Here, just so you get an idea as to how far the tentacles of US imperialism have to spread and what the all the cogs in the machine that are required to keep it functioning look like.

-Israel has blamed the EU for the weakening of Israeli-Turkish ties saying, if they had accepted Turkey into the European Union Turkey would not be looking towards the Muslim world. Its sad in a way that Turkey turned to the Muslim world only after being dejected, but no sooner did it discover its strategic worth and as a the bridge between 3 continents and knack for leadership in arbitrating between 2 major world civilizations.

-How many of you knew about the struggle of the Sahrawi people in Morroco and the Polisario?  See here and here to learn about this little known conflict.

-Wikileaks has also published some of the meeting notes of the infamous Bilderberg of conspiracy theorist lore viewable here and here. More Bilderberg Conference papers can be found here.

Indian and Pakistani politics over Kashmir. No surprise here.

-British Muslims? Worth reading this and this. This is bound to raise some discussion about the state of British Muslims.

-Canadian Muslims? Some revealing stuff from Canada’s CSIS about the harmlessness of Canadian Muslims and building relations with Iranian intelligence (surprised?)

-One of the suggestions made in some of the documents mentioned above is having American Muslim imams and artists fly to France and Brazil to help those countries integrate and manage their growing Muslim population is mentioned. Obviously, managing Muslim attitudes in ANY country is in the imperial interest of the US government, but I think it says something about agendas, that America’s control is not just over the Muslim world, but hegemony over Islam itself, and also that how things play out in the American Muslim community will have ramifications for all of the ummah.

There is plenty more that could be discussed and I’ll be continuing to read them, though it takes time, but I suggest doing your own careful reading. Its sad to see the place of Islam today.

More links:

How Arab governments tried to silence WikiLeaks

Closing question:

How would Malcolm X or MLK or Gandhi utilize the cablegate documents? Or would they utilize it at all?

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