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Cablegate: Lebanon: Sag Fm Says Un Peace Keeping Force Needed

VZCZCXRO3870
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDIR RUEHIHL RUEHKUK RUEHLH RUEHPW RUEHROV
DE RUEHRH #0768/01 1350924
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
O 140924Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY RIYADH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8373
INFO RUEHXK/ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNISL/ISLAMIC COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD IMMEDIATE 0667
RUEHLB/AMEMBASSY BEIRUT IMMEDIATE 0958
RUEHRH/CHUSMTM RIYADH SA IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEOEEE/CJTF SWA IMMEDIATE
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHEHAAA/WHITE HOUSE WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH PRIORITY 9548

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 RIYADH 000768

SIPDIS

EO 12958 DECL: 05/12/2018
TAGS IR, IS, IZ, LE, MASS, MCAP, MNUC, MOPS, PGOV, PINR,
PREL, SA
SUBJECT: LEBANON: SAG FM SAYS UN PEACE KEEPING FORCE NEEDED
NOW

Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Michael Gfoeller for reasons 1.4
(b) and (d)

1. (S) SUMMARY. S/I Ambassador David Satterfield and an MNF-I/Embassy Baghdad team met with SAG Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal on May 10. While Iraq was the main topic discussed, Saud brought up events taking place in Beirut and emphasized the need for a “security response” to Hizballah,s “military challenge to the Government of Lebanon.” Specifically, Saud 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. The US and NATO would need to provide movement and logistic support, as well as “naval and air cover.” Saud said that a Hizballah victory in Beirut would mean the end of the Siniora government and the “Iranian takeover” of Lebanon. END SUMMARY.

Lebanon: A “Military” Problem with a Military Solution

--------------------------------------------- ---------

2. (S) Opening a discussion with S/I Satterfield focused largely on Iraq, Saud first turned to Lebanon and stated that the effort by “Hizballah 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. Saud 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 Hizballah’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.” The US and NATO would be asked to provide equipment for such a force as well as logistics, movement support, and “naval and air cover.”

3. (S) Satterfield asked what support this concept had from Siniora and from other Arab states. Saud responded that “Siniora strongly supports,” but that only Jordan and Egypt “as well as Arab League SYG Moussa” were aware of the proposal, lest premature surfacing result in its demise. No contacts had been made with Syria on any Beirut developments, Saud said, adding, “what would be the use?”
An “Easier Battle to Win”

-------------------------

4. (S) Saud said that of all the regional fronts on which Iran was now advancing, the battle in Lebanon to secure peace would be an “easier battle to win” (than Iraq or on the Palestinian front). Satterfield said that the “political and military” feasibility of the undertaking Saud had outlined would appear very much open to question. In particular, attempting to establish a new mandate for UNIFIL would be very problematic. Satterfield said the US would carefully

RIYADH 00000768 002 OF 002
study any Arab decision on a way forward. Saud concluded by underscoring that a UN/Arab peace-keeping force coupled with US air and naval support would “keep out Hezbollah forever” in Lebanon.

5. (U) Ambassador Satterfield has cleared this cable.

FRAKER

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