French, Lebanese And Kofi Annan Waffle On Disarming Hezbollah
The Israeli army, now in possession of most of the so-called buffer zone, should be very leery of withdrawing back into Israel until not only the Lebanese army, but a sizable U.N. force, is present in South Lebanon.
(Later in the day, the Israeli commander, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, said in a radio broadcast that Israeli units will remain in South Lebanon until the U.N. force is fully there. This is a necessary step, but it jeopardizes the fragile cease fire).
Annan has said it will take "weeks or months" before a full U.N. force of 15,000 is in place, and French Major General Alain Pelligrini, commander of the pitiful U.N. force now in the South, which did nothing to even try to prevent Hezbollah from attacking and kidnapping Israelis before the fighting began, tells the French newspaper Le Monde that it will be as long as a year before the U.N. force is fully formed.
Meanwhile, in Lebanese cabinet meetings, Hezbollah representatives have given solid indication the Iranian and Syrian-directed group is not willing to disarm at all. It puts as two conditions that Israel must first not only withdraw all its troops from South Lebanon, but also give up the Shebaa farms, which in 2000 the U.N. held was not Lebanese at all, but a part of the Israel-occupied Golan Heights of Syria. With the Syrian thug, dictator Bashar Assad, fulminating to no point about his great alliance with Iran, any Israeli-Syrian negotiations will continue, as they have been for years, on hold.
At the U.N., talks continue as to the rules of engagement for the U.N. force. Will it be instructed to disarm Hezbollah or at least to prevent it from attacking Israel, or will it be the ineffective type of "monitoring" force that has marked the U.N.'s hapless work in Darfur and Rwanda as well as Lebanon? The U.N. frequently has been a genocide facilitator, not an inhibitor.
Pardon me, but I would tend to think any French-commanded force is going to be very weak indeed. And as for the Lebanese Army, it is liable to be worse than useless. If it is not totally under the thumb of Hezbollah, which is by far the most powerful armed force in Lebanon as a country, it will be a very great surprise.
It used to be that the presence of Turkish forces in such a situation would mean something. But the Erdogan government in Turkey has slid into sympathy with Islamic fundamentalism, and can no longer be counted upon to be an honest broker.
When one considers two other countries that have been mentioned as possible contributors to a U.N. force, Italy and Indonesia, God help us! These countries have seldom been of use to anyone in the sense of arms.
Israel went to war for good reason with a goal of terminating Hezbollah as an aggressive force on its northern border. If this does not take place, the chances of further warfare are considerable.
Meanwhile, the New York Times reports this morning in its lead story that Hezbollah, aided by a "torrent" of Iranian money, is emerging as dominating efforts at Lebanese rebuilding.
Watch out! If Lebanon slides ever more under Iranian tutelage, further war in the Middle East is inevitable.