WikiLeaks and the Arab Media
With the appearance of WikiLeaks, the revelation of secret information concerning governmental programs, intelligence operations, and conspiracies has blown the Internet. The publications of the information on Afghanistan and Iraq war crimes were expected to raise concerns and call for the demand of their investigation. Under the governmental control, the leaked documents were played down or even silenced in the main Arab media. They were replaced by the news on praising Arab leaders and governmental policies or accusing Israel, Europe and the US of trying to damage the international relations between the Arabian Peninsula and the world. All possible issues but information from the WikiLeaks reports were discussed. The reason for that might have been that the provided proofs showed that the US had had to use military force. However, the more documents have been revealed, the more arguments and criticism appeared worldwide. This paper will investigate how the political and military ideas got distributed in the Arab and world media due to WikiLeaks development.
WikiLeaks: Appearance and Sources of Information
WikiLeaks is a non-profitable media organization, founded by Julian Assange, which aims at publishing different news along with revealing important and, usually, secret information to public (WikiLeaks). Thus, the organization has faced numerous attacks from all possible world governmental offices to protect the top-secret information from common people. Based on the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, WikiLeaks’ main statement is Article 19 that claims the following: “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including freedom to hold opinions without interference to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers” (WikiLeaks). The organization strongly believes that the authorities cannot hide the truth from their people and have no right to work behind the backs of those who elect and trust them.
The organization also does not have a constant domain, as all possible international government institutions are working on how to close it. It is also worth mentioning that numerous anonymous sources worldwide have not been revealed by WikiLeaks so far. There are even certain instructions about how to provide the information without being traced. For instance, to send materials via Internet cafes or other wireless hot spots. Such precautions are eminently reasonable if the source is of political or intelligence interests. Having several international servers under operation and not keeping logs, makes it hard to trace the Internet traffic. Furthermore, in case the information check is needed, different parts of the organization “conspire with each other to strip submitters of their anonymity” (WikiLeaks). For WikiLeaks, these are sources of information, while governments and intelligence call them spies, who endanger world relations by publishing the documents. The founder of WikiLeaks, being accused of espionage and sex offenses, is hiding from different governmental agencies of the USA, Sweden, France, and others (WikiLeaks). However, Julian Assange was granted political asylum by Ecuador after addressing to country’s Embassy in London.
The security technologies of WikiLeaks are extremely progressive in a way to protect the possible attacks against the media. The working group consists of journalists, software programmers, network engineers, and mathematicians. Moreover, it has got a network of committed and talented lawyers, who are always willing to defend the rights of the organization and represent its right in a legal way.
World’s Reaction to Leaks Connected with the Middle East Situation
Numerous articles appearing in the world media prove that the question of war crimes and the overall situation in the Middle East really matters. For instance, the leak of video that were crucial for American military forces and showed the US air crew shooting Iraqi civilians, their inhumane reaction along with inappropriate commentaries to this tragedy was discussed in The Guardian. The article has at least embarrassed the US defense department as far as the video was blocked, when Reuters tried to get it “thus WikiLeaks had to break through encryptions by the military to view it” (Black). Another article in the newspaper highlighted Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s dismissal of the hostility to Iran. It was claimed that the King of Saudi Arabia used simple psychological tricks. Such behavior was an evidence of silencing the information within his country (Black). Another leak of secret military documents, which was crucial for the US army, was published by Private Manning, who worked in Army intelligence unit in Iraq. He sent to WikiLeaks up to 700,000 secret government files (Savage).
The Arab Media Reaction and Responses to WikiLeaks Information
Most Arab media did not publish or comment the cables or excerpts, mainly for local considerations or for their late availability, Gulf News Bahrain states. The official explanation of such neglect was that many news outlets closed earlier than the leaked information was presented. However, in Bahrain, the newspapers close late. Thus, they “referred to the news about the controversial leaks”, but did not consider the plot of the cables necessary to publish (Toummi). Again, little attention was paid by the Mainstream Arab media. It did not consider that the release of the documents was something to be published. Cairo journalist, Issandr El Amrani, claimed that bringing the details of American-Arab conversation could cause anxiety and anger among the people. The reason is that the revealing cables provide extremely exact and precise insight into the daily life of the leader along with conversation records to prove the statements (Black). The most popular Arab channel, Al Jazeera, practically neglected the cables only mentioning some references to them and official position of the US (Toummi).
The Economist in one of its blogs published the coverage, which provides brief extracts from Arab media to show the moods and reactions on the leaks. Namely, a Baghdad’s daily, Al-Sabah, claimed that the documents’ seriousness should be respected. Thus, WikiLeaks papers cannot be disregarded. Moreover, data cannot be ignored for the sake of justice and freedom of access to the information. Osama al-Sherif in the article for a Jordanian newspaper Ad-Dustour called the revelations by the WikiLeaks “a victory for true investigative journalism […] despite government’s attempts to conceal the truth” (Savage). Yousuf al-Kuwayleet, from a Saudi newspaper Al-Riyadh, said that the purpose of the documents should lie in using them as “highly powerful weapon,” an evidence of war crimes committed by the military, and could be a reason for charges against those whose guilt had been obvious (Savage). Their power could be used to persuade the whole nations. Hence, the documents concerning both Iraq and Afghanistan war are unveiling facts, which can damage the US top policy-makers. Yousuf al-Kuwayleet also called these wars “deliberately planned genocidal wars” and demanded prosecution in order to teach all the others a lesson (Savage).
A pan-Arab daily, Dar al-Hayat mentioned another side of these revelations. Its journalist supposes that the level of distrust and suspicion to America’s prospering and bright image will be growing. Moreover, the leaked cables will also put under the question “Iran’s role in Iraq’s bloodbath” and the concerns toward its political course will also be growing along with Syria’s role in the situation (Savage). However, not all the media discussed the American side in this case. Mr. Sawi, a columnist for Egyptian independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm would not advise Julian Assange visiting Arab capitals due to revealing information that is potentially damaging for the existing regime. It is meant that the site contains information, which may undermine the government’s positions and “foster openings in their closed society and help fight corruption” (Savage). He said that no one being conscientious and having direct access to secret files would dare to publish them without facing serious consequences of the choice they have been making. The Arab media outlets also made accusations against Julian Assange of being in cooperation with Israel, as the organization somehow escaped the embarrassing publications on the Jewish state (McGeal). Hence, they claim no serious documents of anti-Israeli direction were leaked. The position of the Arab media does not seem to be supportive for the war crimes revelation.
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The appearance of WikiLeaks caused numerous discussions especially after it started revealing secret information connected to different spheres of world’s life. It remains intangible for the international organizations, which are chasing it. However, the cases of the US military activity in the Middle East had been questioning their legacy so far. Numerous arguments on the purpose of these publications have also appeared.
Different media, European, American, and Arab, provided various views on the situation. However, despite crucial criticism of war policy in the Middle East, some media stand for rather than against of the publications by WikiLeaks. The reason is that, nowadays, it is possibly one of the most trustworthy and fullest sources of the information of the kind providing both news along with official documents, reviews, reports, and cables on politics and military conditions. Yet, the Arab media’s views differ. Some support the idea of revealing the documents as important evidence of unrighteous behavior toward the Arabs during the war time, while the others consider its aim to destroy the political system and societal orders.