News from the stronger and larger UNIFIL force in southern Lebanon does not exactly fill one with hope for peaceful resolution of that unfortunate country’s problems. (Hint: Hezbollah)
It seems that, as predicted by many, including this blog, the 5,000 strong force (what happened to the rest of it?) is not actually allowed to do anything.
They say they cannot set up checkpoints, search cars, homes or businesses or detain suspects. If they see a truck transporting missiles, for example, they say they can not stop it. They cannot do any of this, they say, because under their interpretation of the Security Council resolution that deployed them, they must first be authorized to take such action by the Lebanese Army.Well, well. Why am I not surprised? As a matter of some interest, whatever happened to UN Resolution 1701, which was supposed to guarantee the Israeli-Lebanese border and help the people and government of Lebanon by disarming Hezbollah, which was supposed to have been disarmed under UN Resolution 1559 of 2004?
The Security Council resolution, known as 1701, was seen at the time as the best way to halt the war, partly by giving Israel assurances that Lebanon’s southern border would be policed by a robust international force to prevent Hezbollah militants from attacking. When the resolution was approved, Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, one of its principal architects, said the force’s deployment would help “protect the Lebanese people and prevent armed groups such as Hezbollah from destabilizing the area.”Lt. Col. Stefano Cappellaro of the San Marco regiment says that there is a lot of misunderstanding about what the UN peacekeeping force is supposed to be doing there. I’ll say there is, not least among the force itself.
But the resolution’s diplomatic language skirted a fundamental question: what kind of policing power would be given to the international force? The resolution leaves open the possibility that the Lebanese Army would grant such policing power, but the force’s commanders say that so far, at least, that has not happened.
The theory is that UNIFIL is there to win the trust of the Lebanese people for purposes unknown. Their softly-softly behaviour has certainly not endeared them to the leader of Hezbollah, Sheik Hassan Nazrallah, who has already made it clear that UN resolutions or no UN resolutions, his thugs will not disarm and will continue to impose their rule on parts of Lebanon. If the Lebanese government did not like that state of affairs, it could go away and leave Lebanon to the Sheik and his henchmen.
He has not been too complimentary about the UNIFIL:
“Thus far, I have not heard any country participating in the Unifil say that it sent its sons and soldiers to defend Lebanon and the Lebanese,” he said in a speech Friday before hundreds of thousands of his supporters. “They are ashamed of us, brothers and sisters. They are ashamed of saying they came to defend us, but they talk about defending Israel.”As far as the UN is concerned, this is clearly another case of you lose some and then you lose some more.