Saudi wanted joint Arab-US-NATO force to destroy Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon

Riyadh, Dec 8 (ANI): Saudi Arabia had proposed creating an Arab force backed by US and NATO aerial and navy power to intervene in Lebanon two years back and destroy Iranian-backed Hezbollah, according to one of the US diplomatic cables released WikiLeaks.

According to the Guardian, the execution of the plan would have sparked a combat between the US and its allies against Iran, and also would have marked a return of US forces to Lebanon almost three decades after they fled in the wake of the 1983 suicide attack on US marine barracks in Beirut that killed 299 American and French military personnel.

Although the proposal made by the veteran Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, was never enacted, it reflects the anxiety of Saudi Arabia and America about the growing Iranian influence in Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East, the paper said.

Al-Faisal had reportedly proposed the plan to the US special adviser to Iraq, David Satterfield, emphasising that the need for a "security response" to the military challenge to the Lebanon government from Hezbollah, the Shia militia backed by Iran, and to a lesser extent, Syria.

The paper quoted the secret cable as saying 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 Hezbollah victory in Beirut would mean the end of the Siniora government and the 'Iranian takeover' of Lebanon."

He also argued that a Hezbollah victory against the Siniora government "combined with Iranian actions in Iraq and on the Palestinian front would be a disaster for the US and the entire region".

However the US responded by expressing scepticism about the military feasibility of the plan, particularly securing UN agreement, but that the US would study any Arab decision, the paper said. (ANI)

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