Saudi Arabia proposed forming a comprehensive Arab force, together with the US and NATO, to destroy Hizbullah in Lebanon, according to a WikiLeaks document revealed Tuesday overnight.
During a May 2008 meeting between US Ambassador to Iraq David Satterfield and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal, the latter said a "security response" was needed to confront the "military challenge" posed to Lebanon by the Iranian-backed militants.
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The cable stated that "Saud argued for an 'Arab force' to create and maintain order in and around Beirut."
"The US and NATO would need to provide transport and logistical support, as well as 'naval and air cover.' Saud said that a Hizbullah victory in Beirut would mean the end of the Siniora government and the 'Iranian takeover' of Lebanon."
The meeting between the two official came a few days after Hizbullah and other pro-Syrian groups in Lebanon took over Beirut, after months of street riots, and threatened the pro-western government of then-prime minister Fouad Siniora.
According to the WikiLeaks document, Saud argued that a Hizbullah victory against the government "combined with Iranian actions in Iraq and on the Palestinian front would be a disaster for the US and the entire region."
The Saudi foreign minister further argued that the current situation in Beirut was "entirely military" and so the response should be a military one as well.
Faisal said the threat by Hizbullah required an "Arab force drawn from
Arab 'periphery' states to deploy to Beirut under the 'cover of the
UN'," according to the cable.
He noted that Siniora strongly supported the plan but the only Arab
countries informed of it were Egypt and Jordan, and the secretary
general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa.
The US official responded with skepticism about the military viability
of the plan, and said the UN's agreement on the issue was questionable,
but the US would look into the decision.