Wednesday, December 8, 2010

WikiLeaks cables: Saudis proposed Arab force to invade Lebanon

Foreign minister wanted US, Nato and UN backing for offensive to end Iranian-backed Hezbollah's siege of government


Ewen MacAskill in Washington, Tuesday 7 December 2010

"Saudi Arabia proposed creating an Arab force backed by US and Nato air and sea power to intervene in Lebanon two years ago and destroy Iranian-backed Hezbollah, according to a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks.

The plan would have sparked a proxy battle between the US and its allies against Iran, fought in one of the most volatile regions of the world.

The Saudi plan was never enacted but reflects the anxiety of Saudi Arabia – as well as the US – about growing Iranian influence in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East.

The proposal was made by the veteran Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, to the US special adviser to Iraq, David Satterfield. The US responded by expressing scepticism about the military feasibility of the plan.....

Saud said Siniora strongly backed the idea but the only Arab countries aware of it were Egypt and Jordan, along with the secretary general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa......

Saud said that of all the regional fronts on which Iran was advancing, Lebanon would be an "easier battle to win" for the anti-Iranian allies.....

Saud concluded by underscoring that a UN-Arab peacekeeping force coupled with US air and naval support would "keep out Hezbollah forever" in Lebanon.

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