Saturday, March 10, 2007

UN Wants To Fight Hizballah

I have just read the most amazing report. UNIFIL - the UN forces in Lebanon - want to go after Hizballah.

UNIFIL would like a more aggressive mandate for its forces to engage Hizbullah on their own, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

After last summer's war in Lebanon and the passing of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, UNIFIL was beefed up from 2,000 troops to more than 12,000 and received a mandate stipulating that the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) be present during any incident involving Hizbullah in southern Lebanon.

According to the mandate's rules of engagement, UNIFIL soldiers are not allowed to engage Hizbullah guerrillas independently. They must first contact the LAF and wait for their arrival and decision whether they request UNIFIL assistance.

"There is a feeling of frustration within UNIFIL that under the current rules of engagement they are not free to do their job, which is to prevent Hizbullah rearmament in southern Lebanon," an Israeli defense official told the Post.

UNIFIL, commanded by Maj.-Gen. Claudio Graziano of Italy, cannot make changes to the rules of engagement on its own. The decision needs to be made by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, in conjunction with countries that contribute forces to UNIFIL.
Nice of the General to make a stink. He is correct. However, his stated job and what the rules of engagement actually permit are two very different things. I'm sure this was no accident.

Why would the General be saying anything? By the time you get to be General politics is a very important part of the job. For him to speak out on this subject indicates he might have some backers in his corner who are not among the usual suspects.

Let us start with Prime Minister Fouad Seniora. Why would he be backing this if he already has the power to authorize UN action? One word. Hizballah. If he takes such overt action he will bring down the wrath of Hizballah on a somewhat shakey government.

Then there is Saudi Arabia. They have a lot of assets in Beirut. Just as Hizballah once had a lot of asset in Beirut. Which have lately gone into a disasterous decline in appraised value. The Saudis are aware that if the Israelis take a dislike to them it could hit them where it really hurts. In the pocket book.

Then there is the Sunni vs Shia thing. Plus a strong anti-Iranian sentiment over and above religious disputes.

The General's call for a change in the rules of engagement may have a chance. Depending on how much pressure the member states can bring on the Security Council.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

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