Over the next few days the United Nations Security Council will be debating what it should do with the UNIFIL troops supposedly protecting the peace on the Israeli/Lebanese border. When the over thirteen thousand troops were deployed there a year ago, protecting the peace was only one of its major goals, the other two were the disarmament of Hezbollah and keeping the Hezbollah terrorists north of the Litany river. Unfortunately the UN thinks it its playing baseball because the “World Body” is very happy with a one out of three average.In only one year Hezbollah has rearmed right under UNIFIL’s eyes. Oh the group has whined about the convoys of weapons from Syria to Hezbollah terrorists but its kind of like the weather—everyone talks about it but nobody does a damned thing about it.
Hezbollah has purchased land north of the Litany so it can set up its new longer range rockets. That doesn’t really keep them out of the territory south of the river. According to the new report, however, the Lebanese army and UNIFIL do not actually enforce the security measures stipulated by Security Council Resolution 1701 for the area south of the Litani River.” (Lebanon Cease Fire: Hezbollah Still Rules The Roost). In fact, the report show that the UNIFIL and Lebanese armies operate under Hezbollah rules south of the Litany.
A major contributing factor to the start of the Six-Day War is that when the Arab forces were armed and ready to attack it told the UN “Peace Keeping” forces to get out. Hezbollah and its partner Syria are doing the same think today—getting all the the “i”s dotted and “t”s crossed and when it does it will kick out the UNIFIL forces and attack Israel once more.
Disarming Hezbollah Should Be U.N.’s Top Priority Turtle Bay BY BENNY AVNI European powers — including France, which yields more power over Lebanon than any other Western country — are largely satisfied with how the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon is operating. They shouldn’t be. This week, the Security Council will debate the renewal of the mandate of UNIFIL the European-led mission of 13,600 troops deployed in southern Lebanon in the aftermath of last year’s war between Hezbollah and Israel. Next week, President Sarkozy is expected to announce his foreign policy priorities in a speech that could further distinguish him from his predecessor, Jacques Chirac. Mr. Sarkozy’s attitude toward Lebanon may be one of the speech’s most interesting parts: Will Mr. Sarkozy depart from Paris’s traditional tendency to consider Hezbollah a legitimate Lebanese political power, as opposed to a terrorist organization controlled by Iran and Syria? According to a report in the Kuwaiti press — picked up by Israeli news agencies over the weekend — Iranian television “censored” its own interview last week with Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah. The censor’s problem was that in the interview, the turban-wearing Shiite leader too enthusiastically praised ties between his Lebanon-based organization and Tehran’s mullahs. “We are ready to be torn apart, spliced into tiny pieces, so that Iran will remain exalted,” Sheik Nasrallah told the Iranian interviewer, Bijan Nobaveh, according to the Israeli Web site Y-net. “I am a lowly soldier of the Imam Khamenei. Hezbollah youths acted on behalf of the Imam Khomeini.” An admission that Sheik Nasrallah is merely a servant of Tehran’s current supreme leader and his predecessor, respectively, flies in the face of his previous statements. It also belies an argument made by European politicians in favor of dialogue with Hezbollah. The nuanced diplomacy of engagement, the European argument goes, would encourage Hezbollah to disarm and become a legitimate political party in Beirut. But if at its core the organization is but an Iranian puppet, why should it play any role in Lebanon’s politics? When he took office in the spring, Mr. Sarkozy insisted on calling Hezbollah a terrorist organization, as it is considered to be by the State Department, Israel, Britain, and others — but not by the European Union. But in June, after much criticism of that stance, Mr. Sarkozy’s government invited two Hezbollah-affiliated politicians to a pan-Lebanese summit that France was hosting. Even if it seems like a high-wire act, it is now necessary for Mr. Sarkozy to stake out a clear position on Hezbollah — an act that might light the way for other Europeans to follow. Meanwhile, on the ground, Hezbollah largely has returned to its prewar military strength. It has done so in direct violation of a Security Council resolution demanding that no Lebanese organization would remain armed, except the government-controlled army — and specifically that the area south of the Litany River would become demilitarized. European spokesmen maintain that Israel so far was unable to conclusively substantiate its claims that weapons are being held in southern Lebanon, where Unifil has jurisdiction. But in addition to credible Israeli and other Western intelligence, the notion that the organization has been rearming itself for the next confrontation with Israel is supported by no other than Sheik Nasrallah himself, who in a recent speech has boasted that he was preparing a “big surprise” for the next war. Even if the speculation that Hezbollah now possesses rockets armed with chemical or biological weapons is an exaggeration, Israel should not be the only place where alarm bells are triggered by boasts of “surprise” by an organization beholden to Iran. Other Iranian allies, including Syria and Gaza’s Palestinian Arabs, are encouraged by Hezbollah’s increased belligerence, and the Middle Eastern tinderbox is nearing its most dangerous state. In its year of operation, UNIFIL has been able to maintain calm between Hezbollah and Israel. In Jerusalem, where Prime Minister Olmert is politically weakened, this achievement qualifies as a success. But as the veteran Israeli intelligence analyst Reuven Ehrlich told me last week, the calm on the border is “reversible,” while rearmament is not. It leaves the decision of if and when to start a war in Hezbollah’s hands. As the Security Council contemplates renewing the mandate for another year, it should stress the disarmament of Hezbollah as UNIFIL’s most urgent mission. European capitals concerned enough about the region to send troops to Lebanon should also realize that Hezbollah is not, and is likely never to become, a legitimate political player in Lebanon.
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