Friday, June 26, 2015

Lifting the Lid on Saudi Influence in Australia

One to watch:

"WikiLeaks has revealed secret Saudi Arabian influence in Arabic media and Islamic religious groups in Australia, as well as covert monitoring of Saudi students studying at Australian universities. More than 60,000 leaked Saudi diplomatic documents have been released by WikiLeaks in what the international transparency group says will be the first instalment of the publication of more than 500,000 secret papers in batches over coming weeks...

"The leaked Saudi government documents include extensive correspondence between the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the kingdom's embassy in Canberra that reveals sustained Saudi efforts to influence political and religious opinion within Australia's Arabic and Islamic communities.

"The documents include instructions from the Saudi government to its embassy relating to the payment of large subsidies from the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information to prominent Arabic newspapers and media organisations in Australia, with reference made to cheques to the value of $10,000 and $40,000.

"The Saudi embassy is also revealed to pay close attention to the political and religious beliefs of Saudi university students studying in Australia with reports sent to the Mabahith, the General Investigation Directorate of the Saudi Ministry of Interior, the kingdom's brutal secret police that deals with domestic security and counter-intelligence.

"The directorate is also revealed to make recommendations in relation to Saudi government funding for building mosques and supporting Islamic community activities in Australia.

"The documents show the Sunni kingdom's strong concern about efforts by Shiite Islamic leaders to engage with the Federation of Islamic Councils and the kingdom's funding of visits to Australia by Sunni Islamic clerics to counter Shiite influence.

"WikiLeaks said the reports... 'provide key insights into the kingdom's operations and how it has managed its alliances and consolidated its position as a regional Middle East superpower, including through bribing and co-opting individuals and institutions.'

"The documents reveal extensive Saudi efforts to influence and neutralise critical opinion in foreign media, including widespread use of monetary contributions and subsidies..." (Saudi influence in Australia revealed, Philip Dorling, The Sun-Herald, 21/6/15)

Those extensive efforts to influence and neutralise critical opinion in foreign media must be working here, because Dorling's piece is the only report of these WikiLeak documents, as far as I'm aware, to surface in the Australian msm.

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