Wikileaks activists have sent shock waves throughout the Arab world following the publication of more than sixty thousand private Saudi diplomatic cables.
The cables cover topics including Saudi relations with Iran and the country’s response to the aftermath of the Arab Spring revolutions.
Here in Tunisia it is hoped that the cables may reignite the debate on the Tunisian political reality and media landscape since the 2011 revolution.
The total number of documents due to be released over the coming weeks is said to number more than 500,000.
Here’s what we know about Tunisia’s involvement in #Saudicables so far…
Troika government sought reconciliation with Ben Ali
Former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was approached by a party linked to the Troika government (named as Abdul Sattar al-Masoudi) who contacted Ben Ali’s lawyer Akram Azouri in May 2012 and offered to open negotiations with a view to national reconciliation. The former president accepted the proposal and expressed a desire to meet with al-Masoudi.
Saudi Arabia Planned to bribe media figures with money and free Hajj pilgrimages
During Ennadha party leader Rachid Ghannouchi ‘s visit to the KSA in 2012 Saudi officials discussed providing financial support to influential Tunisian media organisations in the hopes of keeping ‘cultural’ ties between broadcasters and the Gulf state. The move was set to be organised in cooperation with the Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Tunis. Controversially, the Saudi Culture and Information Ministry planned to invite five prominent media figures and their wives to perform Hajj in 2012. KSA officials asked the Saudi embassy here to provide details of suitable candidates for the trip.
The Tunisian Government has discovered more oil but is keeping it secret
In a cable the then Tunisian ambassador in Bahrain presented to his Saudi counterpart documents outlining the discovery of an oil field.
The location of the oil field is unknown and the Tunisian government has not officially acknowledged the existence of any such find.
According to the document, the Tunisian ambassador knew that the information was secret as it contained encrypted data.
Meanwhile a separate cable, dated 2012, claims that Tunisia has the potential in 2012 to possess an oil reserve seven times that of Qatar.
The cable mentions the oil discoveries made by five international companies with one firm, “DualEx”, racking up amounts worth up to $100 million.
Saudi Arabia felt threatened by post-revolution Islamic parties such as Ennadha
In a 2012 cable the Saudi government expresses concern at the rise of post-revolutionary Islamist movements such as Tunisia’s Ennadha Party.
A cable sent by Saudi officials speaks of the importance of becoming close to new Islamic governments while stating that forces that came to power in Tunisia, Egypt and others may constitute a source of concern and inconvenience for the Kingdom. The Saudi government worried that parties may become closer to Turkey and form an open-minded and moderate Islamic union, which may pose a challenge to the Saudi model which is dominated by conservatism. The KSA worried that a coalition between Western countries and open and moderate Islamic forces excluding the Kingdom would marginalize the country’s role in the region.
Zeineb Marzouk is a journalist at Tunisia Live newsroom. She is currently pursuing a Master's degree in English language at the university of Human and social science of Tunis (FSHST). Zeineb speaks Arabic, English, French, and Italian.