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Wikileaks: Saudi students’ visit to Israeli Embassy worries Riyadh

Students visited embassy in Washington with international leadership program • Saudi memos discuss Iranian frustration with regime; accuse UAE of helping Russia, Iran buck sanctions; $10 billion payment to free former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Eli Leon, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff\

143487805329193115a_bThe Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C. [file photo]     |Photo credit: AFP

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.

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.”



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