KENYA: In response to Der Spiegel’s report last week that U.S. officials believed the country was a “swamp of corruption”, Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua called a news conference. He said foreign countries funding youth empowerment schemes in Kenya — a barely veiled reference to the U.S. — were in fact trying to overthrow the government. The U.S. ambassador, Michael Ranneberger, said his claims were “utterly ridiculous”.
After the revelations that the U.S. ambassador believed rampant corruption could lead to renewed violence in the country, President Mwai Kibaki’s office released a statement saying his “record on reforms speaks for itself”.
UGANDA: In response to claims that President Yoweri Museveni feared his plane being shot down on the orders of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, the Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa said the cables were “grossly inaccurate and illogical”. He said: “If the Ugandan President perceived the threat to fly in international airspace, the solution would be for him to stay at home.” But a spokesman for Mr. Museveni confirmed that other leaked cables referring to the President’s concern about Sudan supporting the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels a few years ago, and Eritrea being a regional threat, were in fact accurate.
ERITREA: Despite its President being described by U.S. officials as an “unhinged dictator”, there was no reaction from Eritrea. There is also no free press in Eritrea.
NIGERIA: Shell said it was “absolutely untrue” that it had infiltrated every Nigerian Ministry affecting its operations there.
ZIMBABWE: An opinion piece in the state-run Herald newspaper focused on how the cables showed Robert Mugabe had defied U.S. expectations of his removal from power.
BRAZIL: President Lula has registered his protest at WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s arrest on his blog. “This chap was only publishing something he read,” he said. “Blame the person who wrote this nonsense because there would be no scandal if they hadn’t.” Many leaks relate to the security situation in Rio de Janeiro. A 2009 cable warned that pre-Olympic attempts to expel drug traffickers from some of the most violent favelas could resemble “the battles in Fallujah”.
ARGENTINA: Revelations have focused on apparent U.S. concern about a new invasion of the Falklands islands, and over President Cristina Kirchner’s mental health. In one cable, Hillary Clinton mused over whether Kirchner was “taking any medications”. The English-language Buenos Aires Herald pointed out that “the snickering about the President’s mental health comes at a time [when] she is perceived by much of the public, including those who oppose her, as having shown tremendous strength after her husband’s death”.
VENEZUELA: President Hugo Chavez has called on Ms. Clinton to resign in the wake of “spying and delinquency”. “Look how they are mistreating this great friend of ours, Vladimir Putin. What a lack of respect!” Mr. Chavez told state TV channel Telesur, describing the cables as proof of a “dirty war of Yankee embassies”.
ECUADOR and BOLIVIA: The Ecuadorian government has offered Mr. Assange residency “without any conditions”. But Bolivia has expressed its irritation. The Vice-President, Alvaro Garcia Linera, posted Bolivia-focused cables in full on his website in response to what he called insults and “third-rate espionage”. Bolivia comes off badly: a 2009 cable from the U.S. embassy in Peru outlined concerns that Iran might be trying to acquire uranium from Bolivia.
RUSSIA: Vladimir Putin gave the sharpest response to the WikiLeaks cable in which he was characterised as Batman to Dmitry Medvedev’s Robin. “Slander,” he called it. The embassy cables portray Russia as a corrupt kleptocracy where politicians and criminals are inextricably linked. Medvedev has suggested the leaks would not damage relations between Moscow and Washington. In reality, they have caused lasting damage, playing to the mistrust of the U.S. that underlies Kremlin policy.
AUSTRIA: Norbert Darabos, the Defence Minister, described the U.S. criticism of leading politicians as “inexplicable” and said Austria would not increase its contribution to Afghanistan beyond the five policemen it has sent.
ITALY: Newspapers and other media have given extensive coverage. But in a country where the Prime Minister cannot be forced to answer to parliament and where the focus is on two parliamentary censure motions that could topple the Berlusconi administration next week, the political fallout has been limited.
POLAND: The disclosures appear to be leading to a sober reassessment in Warsaw of the closeness of the relationship with Washington. The Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, sounded disenchanted after the Guardian published material on Poland. “We have a really serious problem,” he said. “Not with image, as some countries do, and not reputation, like the U.S. does. It’s a problem of being stripped of illusions about the nature of relations between countries, including such close allies as Poland and the U.S…”
KAZAKHSTAN: The ruling elite has largely ignored the U.S. cables that described their peccadilloes, including the 40-horse stable of Nursultan Nazarbayev, the President and an extraordinary midnight dance by the Prime Minister at a nightclub.
TURKMENISTAN: President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov was described as “vain, fastidious, vindictive, a micro-manager,” a “practised liar” and “not a very bright guy”. In keeping with an insular regime, the charge provoked little reaction.
PAKISTAN: Papers and television stations have focused on the foibles of civilian leaders but ignored sensitive revelations about the military, such as its alleged covert support for the Afghan Taliban. This has left politicians to weather a harsh storm. “Don’t trust WikiLeaks,” said Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in Kabul last week, after revelations that he secretly supported CIA drone strikes.
The lopsided coverage took a fresh turn on Wednesday when four papers ran a WikiLeaks story that contained damaging allegations saying American diplomats had written off Indian generals as vain and “genocidal” and claiming India’s government was allied with Hindu fundamentalists. But a search of the database by the Guardian failed to find the same files, suggesting the first case of WikiLeaks being exploited for propaganda purposes.
AFGHANISTAN: Disclosures have been a source of endless fascination with journalists devoting hours of airtime to pouring over the cables. Some incredulous commentators refuse to accept the world’s most powerful country could ever lose so much confidential information. Others have even suggested it was a put-up job by the Americans.
The President has publicly thrown his support behind Omar Zakhiwal, his Finance Minister who was quoted in cables describing his boss as an “extremely weak man”. But a cabinet reshuffle is expected after the new parliament is inaugurated.
BANGLADESH: One cable alleging that the Islamic extremist group Lashkar-e-Taiba had established sleeper cells in Bangladesh hit headlines. “The information divulged on the WikiLeaks is creating an odd situation for many countries. We have not yet checked the documents regarding Bangladesh,” said Yafeash Osman, Minister for Science and Technology, said.
NEPAL: Documents suggesting that Maoist rebels had received Indian funding provoked a reaction from the Maoist party. Cables touching on the relations between China and India have also been minutely scrutinised.
AUSTRALIA: The role of Mr. Assange — the country’s prodigal son — has generated the most coverage. Referring to him as the “Ned Kelly of the digital age”, Bryce Lowry wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald: “Assange is a cyber-bushranger: a renegade taunter of authority and inspiration to many who marvel at his daring to challenge the status quo.” Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the publication of the cables was illegal and Mr. Assange’s actions “grossly irresponsible”. She has made it clear the Australian government will offer him no support. The cables themselves reveal an unflattering view of former Prime Minister — now Foreign Minister — Kevin Rudd. He was an abrasive, impulsive “control freak” who presided over a series of foreign policy blunders.