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Iranian Missiles Destroyed Amid Talks of Cease-Fire

Earlier Monday, Saudi Arabia released a cabinet statement that - stopping short of expressly naming Hizballah, Hamas, Syria and Iran – blamed the current crisis on “some elements and groups” who have “got loose” within Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories as well as “those behind them.” While a welcome signal from Saudi Arabia, the statement appears sufficiently vague to allow for maneuver rather than absolute clarity.

The statement read, in part, “Some elements and groups have got loose and slipped into taking decisions on their own that Israel has exploited to wage a ferocious war against Lebanon and to imprison the entire Palestinian people.” Also included was a passage that read, “Saudi Arabia stands together with the legitimate and reasonable-minded national forces in Lebanon and occupied Palestine to combat these dangers to the Arab and Muslim nation.”

It is relatively clear that the “reasonable-minded national forces in Lebanon” is intended to refer to the Lebanese Army. But precisely who Saudi Arabia considers “reasonable-minded national forces” within “occupied Palestine” remains murky.

Further exacerbating the involvement of Iran and the proxy nature of Hizballah in the war in south Lebanon, an Israeli airstrike destroyed a long-range Iranian missile system in Lebanon, possibly as it was being transported to a firing point and seen in the open. One of the missiles was seen hurtling through the air, landing near its launcher.

Yet France, Britain and Kofi Annan combined today to call in unison for a multi-national UN force to intervene, with French Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin, calling for an immediate cease-fire.

Surely mindful of the dismal track record of UN-led multi-national forces inserted into crises, Israel dismissed the notion out of hand. The UN forces would surely be ineffective at halting Hizballah attacks, yet any Israeli response would be hamstrung by the presence of an international buffer in the form of UN-led foreign troops.

Israel reasserted that the Lebanese Army should be the armed force placed along the border, with both responsibility for disarming Hizballah under the UN’s own Resolution 1559 and sovereign interest. This specifically was one of Israeli Prime Minister Olmert’s three demands for a cease-fire earlier in the day.