Old wine in new bottles.
Posted by Exile on August 17, 2006
I thought it might be an idea to look at UNIFIL and the coming International peacewatching force in Lebanon and try to draw some parallels in their mandates. This is actually not easy as the mandate for the new force is not really available yet, as is the force itself. The French want to lead it and probably will, America and Britain don’t want to be a part of it because of Iraq and Afghanistan. Italy wants in, Germany too, Turkey and other muslim lands like Indonesia have been asked. Putting the French in charge is in my opinion a mistake. They have too many old axes to grind and too much old interest to be truly impartial. Not only that, the French led UNIFIL, and see what a comical disaster that was. Let’s take a step back.
This directly from the UN-UNIFIL official site:
According to Security Council resolutions 425 (1978) and 426 (1978) of 19 March 1978, UNIFIL was established to:
Confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon;
Restore international peace and security;
Assist the Government of Lebanon in ensuring the return of its effective authority in the area.
OK. Point one went well. The Israeli army withdrew. That’s all folks.
Somewhere along the way the UN came up with resolution 1559, the disarmament of Hezbollah. Nothing happened in the 28 years that UNIFIL was in place to enforce that resolution. In fact, the UN and Hezbollah used the same bases. Not really conducive to the disarmament of a terrorist force by the UN. The Lebanese government never moved into the region around the famous blue line and, equally, ignored the build up of Hezbollah despite the resolution and the task of disarming Hezbollah. Was this out of fear of Syrian reprisals or just plain cooperation with the terrorists? Maybe, it was both. I don’t know. The outcome of this inactivity is clear. Hezbollah grew into a strong and widespread army and created the state within a state that will now be so hard to dismantle. The warfare of the past month has finally been inconclusively stopped by the UN and the Israeli army is on its way home again after being effectively thwarted in its mission to destroy the organisation that should have been disarmed years ago. Had the UN enforced its own mandate then, none of this would have been necessary.
So we come full circle. Screw the clock back 28 years and what have got? The same situation again. Now a new force will be put in place and the disarmament of Hezbollah is again high on the agenda. UNIFIL has a new mandate. There is one mistake on the official site, I have highlighted the missing word and you will see my comment and what I believe it should say;
According to Security Council resolution 1701 (2006) of 11 August 2006, UNIFIL, in addition to carrying out its mandate under resolutions 425 and 426, shall:
Monitor the cessation of hostilities;
Accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the South, including along the Blue Line, as Israel withdraws its armed forces from Lebanon;
Coordinate its activities referred to in the preceding paragraph (above) with the Government of Lebanon and the Government of Israel;
Extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons;
Assist the Lebanese armed forces in taking steps towards the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an (area? word missing here- Ed.) free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL deployed in this area;
Assist the Government of Lebanon, at its request, in securing its borders and other entry points to prevent the entry in Lebanon without its consent of arms or related materiel.
By this resolution, the Council also authorized UNIFIL to take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind; to resist attempts by forceful means to prevent it from discharging its duties under the mandate of the Security Council; and to protect United Nations personnel, facilities, installations and equipment, ensure the security and freedom of movement of United Nations personnel, humanitarian workers and, without prejudice to the responsibility of the Government of Lebanon, to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence.
Notice there is nothing saying that the UN force should do anything to protect the integrity of Israel, its borders or its citizens. And notice, it can only stop the import of arms and materiel if the government of Lebanon requests this.
This is old wine in new bottles. If this is to form the basis for the mandate for the international army that comes into place, then I have my reservations.
The Israeli army will withdraw. Everything else is a bit suspect.
It is the bit about assisting the Lebanese in asserting their authority in the south and the eradication of “any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL deployed in this area” that really catches my attention. How will they know?
Why not just go in and enforce resolution 1559? Maybe, because that would mean the disarmament of half the Lebanese army?
Hezbollah have made it clear. They will not disarm. They may move around a bit but they will not disarm. That will require force and not mere “pretty please”. It won’t happen.
And something else worries me. Muslim turks and indonesians, in force on the israeli border, backed up by the Germans and led by France with Italian onlookers?
This international force is looking entirely suspicious to me Kofi…!
UNIFIL official website.