Monday, August 14, 2006

The Ball is in Lebanon's Court

It is now up to the Lebanese Government to do its part in implimenting UN 1701.

"The Lebanese army is readying itself along the Litani to cross the river in 48 or 72 hours," Marwan Hamade said on Europe-1 radio.
These kinds of manuvers are always dangerous, even when done within a unified command. The reason is that friendly troops not in contact may mistake each other for the enemy. The technical term for such self inflicted wounds is "fratricide". When they are done with allies the danger goes up. There are fewer co-ordination and communications channels available. When a neutral party comes in the channels are further reduced. It may take more than 72 hours just for liason officers to be exchanged. The officers will be from the headquarters of each local contingent to minimize miscommunication. Having worked together the officers of a headquarters, will have a common ground for the meaning of each communication. This lowers the possibility of mistakes, it does not eliminate the possibility.
It will then be flanked by "the first contingents of an international force," he added, likely from France, Turkey, Spain and Italy. He did not give a timeframe.
The question then is the actual positioning of the forces involved. Alternating Lebanese forces with UN forces would provide the best backbone for the Lebanese Army. Alternatively, holding UN forces in reserve would probably be acceptable. In the first instance co-ordination without compatible communications equipment will be difficult. Especially since the UN forces are a hodge poge. Then there are the additional language difficulties. Words that sound the same in different languages don't always have identical military meanings.I think France and Italy are definitely in at this time. Currently no mention of Turkey. Portugal, Finland, Spain, Australia, Canada, Malaysia and Indonesia may also join the force. This is quite a mess. Command and control will be difficult under ordinary circumstances. If significant fighting starts breakdowns are almost inevitable. This is definitely not a robust fighting force.

Getting back to how the UN and Lebanese army might deploy, if the two separate armies are arranged so that they flank each other that lowers the liason problem. The difficulty then is that if the troops of the two armies are greatly different in capabilities the weaker force is more likely to draw attacks in an effort to break the union of the two armies at the joint.
He [Marwan Hamade ed.] spoke shortly after a UN-imposed cease-fire went into effect across the region, halting a month of fighting.

But implementation of the resolution was in question after the Lebanese Cabinet on Sunday indefinitely postponed a crucial meeting dealing with plans for the deployment. Lebanese media reported that the Cabinet was sharply divided over demands that Hizbullah surrender its weapons in the south.

Hamade said the Lebanese government would try Monday to find a "formula" for implementing the resolution.

Lebanon's industry minister, Pierre Jemayel, a member of a majority anti-Syrian bloc in parliament, told Al-Siyassah daily, "Hizbullah has to deliver its weapons to the Lebanese army, and its light weapons to the police."
Do you think Hizbollah will agree to this? I don't. That could create a situation where Hizbollah will attack the Lebanese Army. With liasons in place from the Israeli Army that could create a very interesting situation. It is possible that an alliance could be formed of at minimum a temporary nature.

A Turkish news source reports:
"I would like to see people beginning to deploy by the end of the week, early next week -- elements of the force, the headquarters," said Solana.

A senior Israeli government official said he did not expect the deployment to start for at least two weeks.
So Hizbollah will have time to contemplate its future.

Another look at internal dissention in the Lebanese Cabinent:
Lebanon's ambassador to the UN said that his government would not use force to ensure the dismantling of Hizbullah, sources said early Monday morning.

He claimed that Hizbullah would independently be responsible for leaving south Lebanon. "We could have completed a cease-fire by Sunday morning, but Israel insisted on destroying the essence of Lebanon," the ambassador commented while being interviewed by CNN.

Earlier, another Lebanese cabinet minister said that the Lebanese army would not deploy in southen Lebanon if Hizbullah retains its weapons.

"The army will not deploy in the south unless there are no arms in the south except those of a legitimate military force and UNIFIL," the minister said.

Hizbullah, however, has resisted calls to disarm and its refusal to follow through threatened the deal.

A top aide to Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said the cabinet meeting had been indefinitely postponed but would give no reason.
No reason. I do think one or two clues have been left been left, however.

I might note for those who love humor that the above article was titled: 'LAF to deploy in South within 72 hours'

With no Lebanese Army to deploy alongside, the UN Peace Keepers have no mandate.

This UN resolution is full of traps for Hizbollah.

I think this a great example of anti-Clauswitz. Politics is war by other means.

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