WikiLeaks: Saudi FM proposed plan to destroy Hizbullah

Cable reveals Saudis suggested "Arab force" to maintain order in Beirut; president of Tunisia predicted takeover of Egypt by Muslim Brotherhood.

December 9, 2010 03:48
2 minute read.
Saudi Prince Saud al-Faisal with UAE president

Saudi Prince Saud al-Faisal 311 AP. (photo credit: AP)

The moderate Arab states’ fear of Iran and Islamic radicalism continued to pour forth from documents released by WikiLeaks Tuesday night, with the Saudi foreign minister proposing an Arab security force two years ago to keep Hizbullah in check around Beirut, and the Tunisian president predicting that the Muslim Brotherhood would “sooner or later” take over Egypt.

According to a cable written on May 14, 2008, by Michael Gfoeller, the US deputy chief of mission in Riyadh, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal proposed in a meeting with senior State Department official David Satterfield an Arab “security response” to Hizbullah’s siege of Beirut that month.

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Saud, according to the dispatch, “argued for an ‘Arab force’ to create and maintain order in and around Beirut, which would be assisted in its efforts and come under the ‘cover’ of a deployment of UNIFIL troops from south Lebanon.”

Saud said that “the effort by ‘Hizbullah and Iran’ to take over Beirut was the first step in a process that would lead to the overthrow of the Siniora government and an ‘Iranian takeover of all Lebanon.’ Such a victory, 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 “argued that the present situation in Beirut was ‘entirely military’ and that the solution must be military as well. The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) were too fragile to bear more pressure; they needed urgent backing to secure Beirut from Hizbullah’s assault. What was needed was an ‘Arab force’ drawn from Arab ‘periphery’ states to deploy to Beirut under the ‘cover of the UN’ and with a significant presence drawn from UNIFIL in south Lebanon ‘which is sitting doing nothing.’”

In Tunisia, meanwhile, President Zine el-Abidine Ben-Ali told US Assistant Secretary of State David Welch in March 2008 that Syria was a source of concern in the region, since it was “acting for Iran, and the later is fueling regional problems.”

Ben-Ali, according to a report of that meeting contained in a cable sent by US ambassador in Tunisia Robert Godec, said “he ‘does not trust’ the Shia.”

Ben-Ali added that “Tunisia was happy it was part of the Maghreb, and not part of Levant or Gulf.”

According to the dispatch, Ben-Ali “opined that the situation in Egypt is ‘explosive,’ adding that sooner or later the Moslem Brotherhood would take over. He added that Yemen and Saudi Arabia are also facing real problems.

Overall, the region is ‘explosive.’” The Tunisian president also did not guard his tongue regarding Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, saying he “is not a normal person,” according to the dispatch.

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