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Obama Ignored Saudi Pleas to Combat Takeover of Lebanon

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  • Beowulf
    Obama Admin. Ignored Saudi Pleas to Combat Takeover of Lebanon Posted By Phillip Smyth On September 20, 2011 Once a key U.S. partner in the Middle East, the
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 21, 2011
      Obama Admin. Ignored Saudi Pleas to Combat Takeover of Lebanon

      Posted By Phillip Smyth On September 20, 2011

      Once a key U.S. partner in the Middle East, the Saudis are unhappy with the
      Obama administration, and thus the United States. They are angry that the
      White House never consulted them about helping to bring down the Mubarak
      regime in Egypt. But their greatest wrath is reserved for the U.S.
      government's failure to oppose the Iranian regime's expansionism and

      In one Wikileaks-leaked State Department document after another, Riyadh's
      anger is apparent. The "traditionally confrontation-averse" Saudis - as a
      phrase in one of the reports calls them - also make clear that the threat of
      force as well as words is necessary to stop Iran. A recently released secret
      2009 U.S. State Department memo written for General Petraeus discussed this
      Saudi view of Iran and U.S. policy toward Iran at length:

      The Saudis see a dangerous Shia power bent on destabilizing the region. .
      They remain concerned that we might be prepared to accept an enhanced role
      for Iran in the region in exchange for concessions on its nuclear program.

      In other words, the Saudis thought the United States might sell them out.
      The king correctly predicted that the Obama engagement policy toward Iran
      would fail.

      The Saudis described Iran's power, the spread of its radical Shia Islamist
      ideology pushing Shia minorities to revolt in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and
      its nuclear program as the main threats to Saudi Arabia. Israel and the
      Palestinian issue didn't make the list. In a meeting with U.S. Air Force Lt.
      General Mike Hostage, Saudi Air Force General Faisal al-Saud "asserted that
      he had conclusive proof of Iranian involvement in the Houthi insurgency" in

      In the spring of 2011, Saudi forces arrived in Bahrain, where the U.S. Fifth
      Fleet is based, to quash a mainly Shia uprising - in part backed by Iran -
      against the ruling Sunni minority. Additionally, the Saudis didn't stand
      idly by as pro-Iranian Houthis (whose slogan is: "God is greatest, death to
      America, death to Israel, God curse the Jews, victory for Islam") in
      neighboring Yemen attacked Saudi forces in 2009. In private, the Saudis were
      vocal in calling for Israel to strike Iranian nuclear facilities.

      Faisal al-Saud offered a parable to show the Saudis' critical view of U.S.
      policy toward Iran:

      A neighbor's house bursts into flame, and the closest neighbor [the United
      States] says he will come to help soon but then doesn't, citing policy as
      preventing him, but hoping he will still be considered a very good friend.
      Meanwhile, others who are not close friends are helping.

      In Lebanon, the government was ruled by the pro-Western, pro-Saudi March 14
      alliance. That Sunni Muslims, Christian, and Druze coalition was a bulwark
      against the heavily armed, pro-Iranian Hizballah, and to Iranian and Syrian
      influence. The Saudis early on appreciated the danger of a takeover by
      radical forces and the need to do something about it. In 2007, Saudi
      Ambassador to Lebanon Abdulaziz Khoja told then-U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey
      Feltman that he doubted "whether the GOL [Government of Lebanon] and the
      March 14 forces had the strength to sustain the fight over the long term"
      without significant outside help.
      He urged that Washington support a covert program of arming the moderates,
      telling Feltman: "We must help [March 14 leaders] Saad (Hariri), Walid
      (Jumblatt), and even (Samir) Geagea with money and arms." While some
      Christian and Druze militias trained, they lacked arms. They were in no way
      as strong as the immensely equipped Hizballah. There is no real trained and
      equipped Sunni Muslim armed force at all. Apparently, the U.S. government
      did nothing.

      A little over a year later, Hizballah defied the government's demand to shut
      down its fiber optic network that some Lebanese leaders claimed was being
      used to spy on the government and others. In response, Hizballah mobilized
      its military forces, briefly seized half of Beirut - an easy task since
      there were few organized Sunni Muslim, pro-government defenders - and
      attacked the Druze-inhabited Shouf region with artillery and armed units.
      The martial Druze stopped the advance.

      In the middle of this heavy fighting between often ill-equipped pro-March 14
      forces and Hizballah, Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal discussed
      the Saudis' preferred solution to the situation with U.S. Ambassador David
      Satterfield. According to the report, Faisal stated:

      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 . government and an
      "Iranian takeover of all Lebanon."

      Faisal wanted an Arab force that would work with UNIFIL, which according to
      Satterfield "is sitting doing nothing." NATO and the United States would
      provide the Arab force with air and naval power. Faisal suggested this would
      be an "easier battle to win" than fighting Iraqi insurgents or Palestinian
      Hamas, both groups that the Saudis also saw as enemies of themselves and

      Satterfield had his doubts about the feasibility of such a plan, and at any
      rate the U.S. government again did nothing. Faisal's warnings proved
      precisely correct. By a mixture of intimidation, bribery, and electoral
      success that offered some debt to the first two methods, Hizballah toppled
      the government, placed a friendly prime minister in power, and continued to
      arm itself with ever more advanced weapons.

      The Saudi readiness to respond to Tehran's moves in the region and
      willingness to use their money and even armed forces against Iran and its
      allies provided an example for U.S. policy. When an often quiescent Arab
      state known for preferring low-profile and checkbook diplomacy sounds the
      call to put up a fight and take risks because the danger is so tremendous,
      maybe it knows more than the Obama administration officials in Washington
      about what needs to be done.


      Article printed from Pajamas Media: http://pajamasmedia.com

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