Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Kofi: UN Deployment Possibly Months Away

Secretary General of the UN Kofi Annan says:

JERUSALEM (AP)--U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Tuesday that while the international community was working to put together a fortified U.N. peacekeeping force for southern Lebanon as quickly as possible, deployment could take "weeks or months."

Speaking in an interview with Israel's Channel Two TV taped earlier in the day in New York, Annan added that the beefed-up 15,000 strong Unifil force wouldn't be tasked with disarming the Lebanese Hezbollah militia.

"The Unifil force will help the government of Lebanon to do the job, but it is not directly in the mandate of the Unifil force," he said.
So far the Lebanese Government is not up to the job. In fact it appears theydo not want the job.
(08-16) 04:00 PDT Beirut -- Hezbollah refused to disarm and withdraw its fighters from the battle-scarred hills along the border with Israel Tuesday, threatening to delay deployment of the Lebanese army and endangering a fragile cease-fire.

The makings of a compromise, however, emerged from all-day meetings in Beirut, according to senior officials involved in the negotiations, and Prime Minister Fuad Saniora scheduled a Cabinet session today for what he hoped would be formal approval of the deal. Hezbollah implied it would be willing to pull back its fighters and weapons in exchange for a promise from the Lebanese army not to probe too carefully for underground bunkers and weapons caches, the officials said.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah insists that any disarmament of his militia -- even in the border area -- should be handled in longer-term discussions within the Lebanese government, according to government ministers. But the Lebanese army, backed by key political leaders, refused to send troops into the just-becalmed battle zone until Hezbollah's missiles, rockets and other weapons were taken north of the Litani River, the ministers said.
Now here is the interesting bit. There is no UN force. None. Nada. Zip. It was a fiction.
U.N. officials in New York continued to haggle Tuesday over the mandate and operational rules of the international troops in southern Lebanon, including whether they would have the ability to detain or fire upon suspected Hezbollah fighters engaged in warfare or in gun running.

Some countries have said they prefer a monitoring role, while others seek more robust rules of engagement, said a U.N. official who spoke on condition of anonymity. Among the nations said to be considering taking part are France, Indonesia, Italy and Malaysia.
Captain's Quarters as usual has some interesting thoughts on the matter.
None of us who follow the UN and Kofi Annan experienced any sort of surprise when he demurred from actually enforcing a Security Council resolution. His insistence that the UN has no real interest in the question of Hezbollah disarmament may seem shocking, since the Security Council has now twice demanded it, but it comes as a piece to the record of UN peacekeeping under his regime, first as the head of peacekeeping and now as Secretary-General. UN forces sent to keep "peace" have almost without exception fled from terrorists and genocidists, only standing firm when under NATO or US/UK command.

Many saw UNSCR 1701 as a defeat for Israel, because of this obvious deficiency and the use of the discredited UNIFIL force for the mission. However, Israel would not quietly allow Annan and Siniora to defeat them where Hezbollah failed. Politically, the Olmert government cannot accept the return of an armed Hezbollah organization to the sub-Litani, a fact that even the terminally dense Annan should have recognized.

Annan also miscalculated the Israeli impulse for a cessation of hostilities. He was under the impression that Israel had tired of the military option, but in reality Israel won everything it wanted in the action, especially under the terms of 1701. The Israelis still had plenty of will left to fight, but with the exception of pushing into the Bekaa, a further incursion past the Litani would have produced rapidly diminishing results. The Israelis want a sovereign Lebanese government to take responsibility for its own territory, and do not want to conduct another long occupation based on the lack of a partner in Beirut.
Israeli troops may reach the Bekaa in force yet.

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