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UNIFIL Success Depends on Hezbollah’s Commitment to Cease-Fire August 15, 2006

Posted by earthlingconcerned in News and politics, UNIFIL, United Nations.
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This is a further discussion on my previous article in regards to the problems associated with sending more UN Peacekeepers into Lebanon. As a major point in the Cease-fire mandate that was signed over the weekend, it was agreed that UNIFIL will be strengthened to a maximum of 15,000 troops (an additional 13,000 troops). As with when UNIFIL was created, the intention is most definitely a noble one. Their responsibilities include the following:

  • 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 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 of the area
  • Assist the Government of Lebanon, in securing its borders from peoples, arms, or related material who do not belong

Please refer to the actual resolution (UN Security Council Resolution 1701) for a more detailed and thorough description of the vagaries’ that have been agreed upon. There still remains several questions that will surely be addressed within the next 48 hours or so. It appears that the general tendency that major peacekeeping operations are lead by developing countries, which often send under trained and under equipped troops, has been reversed to a degree. Italy has announced that it will send 3,000 troops. Germany, which had prior concerns about how its Nazi past would be seen in the region, is also sending troops. France, Turkey, Malaysia and Indonesia are also discussing their contributions. Considering the scale of the conflict, I predict the rest of the promised troops will come from other prominent member states. My previous article on the subject presented several arguments as to why sending more troops in is a bad idea. For the sake of the peacekeepers, I still stand by this but understand the necessity of their presence nonetheless.

Elements of the most successful peacekeeping operations can be seen in the current operation. These elements, where the troops will occupy an intervening strip of land after a ceasefire for however long they’re required (in UNFILS case, it seems to be ongoing) can most definitely be seen here. Sadly, the region remains unique and the events of the last month prove this. The country of Lebanon suffered the largest devastation during the 34 day attacks that lead to the ceasefire, yet they, as a nation and its population, were by no means the target. I’m just repeating myself here, but it will be impossible to make Hezbollah abide by the rules because they don’t represent any unit of a recognized international body. Paul Kennedy recently wrote about the initial UNIFIL forces deployed decades ago;

The UN “interim” force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was honestly meant but could do little because Palestinian fighters refused to stop fighting and terror bombing, Israeli military countermeasures (including repeated and large-scale sweeps into the north) were brutal but ineffective, and the various Lebanese ethnic-religious factions were tearing one another apart. – The Parliament of Man, Paul Kennedy

Much of the cease-fire agreement allows these forces to assist Lebanon in securing its land, and preventing Hezbollah from regrouping, but it stops short of allowing these forces to assist in the destruction of Hezbollah. This is not in the mandate simply because if it was, there would be no cease-fire agreement.

Since its creation, there have been 261 fatalities within UNIFIL. That’s over 10% of the total number of peacekeepers killed (2,226 from over 100 countries as of the end of 2005) since the UN began peacekeeping operations. During the best of times, it’s been a turbulent region. Israel, as a internationally recognized nation, will always be allowed to defend itself by the means it sees fit. This has been demonstrated in recent weeks. All it will take is one more foolish action of defiance by Hezbollah against Israel and the ceasefire will end. Their ability to do so has been backed by George W. Bush, the Israeli Prime minister but most importantly, and common sense. It just so happens that if this break in the agreement does indeed occur, there will be 15,000 UN troops stations in the middle of a hostile territory with little ability to assist in either direction. Regardless of whether or not UNIFIL has been strengthened (in sheer number and ability to defend themselves) they still have a very limited capacity to fight what would be a battle of war planes and long ranger rockets. This may sound like one of the most obvious statements to make, but peace in the region does depend on Hezbollah more than any other player. Sadly, it is Hezbollah that, providing they have indeed remained strong and capable of attack, has the least to gain from a Cease-fire. And with continued rhetorical support by Syria and Iran, the ongoing war, in only of words, will continue.

With all of this said, a cease-fire is essential for any progress to be made. We will hear tragedies within UNIFIL in the upcoming months, and probably years (even though the UNIFIL mandate officially expires at the end of August 2007, it will surely be extended). Everything is a gamble, and the situation is obviously more complex than anything I could have written here today, but the steps made in recent days had to be made. I sometimes struggle with the idea of hope, as its definition implies the inability for ones actions to truly dictate what takes place, but hope is all that the masses can do in a situation like this. Because ultimately, the preservation of peace depends entirely on the actions of one man, and the subsequent reaction of another.

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Comments»

1. rachel - January 2, 2007

what is the age of the boat?


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