|Picture Credit: CIA
Lebanon has long been caught up in the tumultuous regional politics of the Middle East. In the 1970s, class, religious and ethnic divisions, sharpened by the presence of armed Palestinian refugees, erupted into civil war and led to military intervention by Syria in 1976 and by Israel in the south in 1978. The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 425 in 1978 calling for Israeli withdrawal and establishing the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). In 1982 Israel again invaded, seizing all of Lebanese territory from the southern border to the suburbs of Beirut. The Security Council passed a series of resolutions, notably Resolution 509. Israel eventually withdrew to a large enclave south of the Litani River where Israeli troops remained in occupation for the next 18 years, battling with a local guerilla resistance. After Israeli troops pulled out in 2000, a dispute continued over the Israeli-held border zone Shabaa Farms. Meanwhile, Syria continued its long military presence in the country, giving it a powerful influence over Lebanese politics.
In September 2004, the United States and France sponsored Resolution 1559 calling on Syria to end its occupation and further calling for the disarmament of Israel' s nemesis, the Shia-based Hizbullah militia. Though a largely symbolic move, the resolution was a reminder of Lebanon's incomplete sovereignty and its vulnerable status as long as Israel remains in occupation of Palestinian and Syrian territory. The assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005 sparked anti-Syrian sentiment in Lebanon and touched off mass protests in Beirut. The Security Council responded with Resolution 1595 setting up an international commission of inquiry. Washington was keen to pressure Syria because of perceived Syrian complicity in movement of arms and fighters across Syria's eastern border into US-occupied Iraq. In April, Syria withdrew its troops from Lebanon but the government of Bashar al-Asad didn't fully cooperate with the UN investigation panel. On October 31, 2005 the Security Council passed Resolution 1636 calling for Syrian cooperation and setting up sanctions against individuals designated by the Commission as suspected of involvement in the killing of Hariri.
Though Security Council steps to bring justice in Syria and Lebanon were potentially very positive, such moves were tainted by suspicions that they were motivated primarily by US and Israeli strategic interests. This seemed confirmed when, after Hizbullah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers in July 2006, Israel launched extremely violent and wide-ranging military attacks, seeking to destroy Hizbullah, while a simultaneouos military campaign was under way directed at Hamas and other Palestinian groups in the Occupied Territories. This new war in Lebanon was comparable in violence and destruction to the war of 1982. On August 11, 2006, after a month of conflict, the UN Security Council unanimously called for an end to the hostilities with resolution 1701. The resolution called for an expansion of UNIFIL, up to 15,000 troops, to monitor the peace, and take over military control after the withdrawal of the Israeli army.
The Western media often portrays the Security Council debate on Syria as a clash between different visions of international relations. The “good guys” are seen as champions of a new post-sovereign international order while the “bad guys” defend blood-thirsty dictators in a cynical use of the doctrines of non-interference and national sovereignty. This analysis conveys little about the history and the current high stakes politics, the web of great power interests and international – except, of course, when it comes to the bad guys.
Since early this year, Syria has been rocked by pro-democracy protests engendered by domestic problems and the toppling of autocratic leaders in Tunisia and Egypt. The Syrian government’s response to these protests has been violent. European countries and the US have advocated for a UN Security Council resolution condemning Syria’s human rights violations. However, Brazil, India and South Africa (3 of the 10 Elected Members) have threatened to vote against any such resolution. The UK, France and the US (three of the Council’s five permanent members of the Council) have condemned the emergent powers for acting in their own self-interest. Such a claim, however, ignores the P3’s own biased use of international law as a framework to further geo-strategic interests. (Global Policy in Brief)
This damning UN Human Rights Council report on Syrian security forces’ rights abuses found “patterns of summary execution, arbitrary arrest, enforced disappearance, torture, including sexual violence, as well as violations of children’s rights.” It was based on interviews with 223 victims and witnesses, although investigators were not granted access to the country. The report was published on the same day the Arab League leveled unprecedented economic sanctions against Syria because Damascus refused to accept observers to protect civilians. According to the UN, state forces have killed at least 256 children.
After a request from the Lebanese government, the Security Council adopted resolution 1832 which will extend the mandate of United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) until August 31, 2009. UNIFIL hopes to secure a permanent ceasefire and facilitate a long-term solution to the conflict between Israel and Lebanon.
In this report to the UN Security Council, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says that Israel continues to violate Resolution 1701. The resolution, which ended hostilities between Lebanon and Israel in 2006, demands that all Israeli military forces pull back to the UN-demarcated blue line. But Israel still controls territory north of the blue line, including part of the town of Ghajar. The Secretary General warns that Israel's violation may escalate tensions between the two countries.
Ban Ki-moon remains concerned about the deteriorating security situation in Lebanon. The Secretary General states that Israel has failed to withdraw from Lebanon as required by Security Council Resolution 1701 and Israel conducts "provocative" air drills over Lebanese territory. Ban also notes that the failure to elect a President in Lebanon has created an acute political crisis, preventing UN peacekeepers (UNIFIL) from disarming militia groups. The report concludes that these factors undermine the credibility of the United Nations and the ability of UNIFIL to fulfill its peacekeeping mandate.
The UN Security Council unanimously extended by one year the mandate of the fact-finding commission looking into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The resolution comes after chief investigator Serge Brammertz reported that while his team had made "significant progress," completing the probe by June 15, 2007 - when the current mandate expires - seemed "unlikely."
The UN Security Council has unanimously passed Resolution 1701, a month after the conflict in Lebanon begun. The resolution calls for a full cessation of all Israeli offensive military operations and Hizbollah attacks, the strengthening of the UN mission in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to 15,000 troops, the deployment of 15,000 Lebanese troops in Southern Lebanon and the withdrawal of Israeli troops in parallel. The expended UNIFIL will monitor the cessation of hostilities and prevent the entry of arms into Lebanon without the consent of the government. The text leaves the questions of the hostages and prisoners, as well as the status of the Shebaa Farms to be dealt later between Israel and Lebanon.
Russia has introduced a draft resolution seeking an immediate and full cessation of hostilities for 72 hours on humanitarian grounds. The text does not attempt to interfere with the French and US initiative to find a settlement to the conflict, but would allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance to civilians in dire need.
At the forefront of Syria’s ongoing civil war, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) has vowed to represent and protect the movement to overthrow the Assad government. However, offensive strategies have replaced defensive ones and the supporting Syrian population is becoming more and more disillusioned with an armed opposition which was initially a non-violent uprising. In addition to the lack of a transparent strategy, communities hosting the FSA have been attacked, resulting in refugees and civilian deaths. Corruption from abroad by FSA leaders is alleged. And, gangs have been going around robbing and kidnapping people while using the FSA’s name, which only adds to a deteriorating reputation. (openDemocracy)
The escalating crisis in Syria has evolved into an “international political standoff” between group 1: US, EU, Arab Gulf States, Jordan, and Turkey, and group 2: Russia, China, Iran, Lebanon, and Iraq. Both parties are advocating on behalf of their own geopolitical interests, hoping that in the end the balance of power will be tilted in their favour. This openDemocracy article examines the need to support the peaceful protestors, and push more for political, rather than military, solutions. (openDemocracy)
In this Al Jazeera interview, UN high commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay argues that arming the opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would only intensify the violence that has killed over 7,500 people since protests started last year. Pillay says that, “it’s not the role of outsider to arm one group or another...” and that doing so will only escalate the violence and not achieve a peaceful solution. (Al Jazeera)
Following Russia and China’s veto of the SC resolution on Syria, there have been allegations that these countries are acting in their own geopolitical interests. This Foreign Policy in Focus article points out that these two nations are not the only permanent members of the Security Council to act in their own interest. The article highlights the double standard where France, the UK and the US, are eager to lambast Russia and China for acting in their own self-interest, when they refuse to act against Morocco’s occupation in Western Sahara and Israel’s occupation in Palestine. The currently structure of the UN Security Council (both the veto and permanent membership) replicates this system of double standards, allowing countries to prevent any action in places they have a connection to. (Foreign Policy in Focus)
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, British Foreign Secretary William Hague, and French Minister of Foreign Affairs Alain Juppé have endorsed the Arab League plan calling for political change in Syria. This controversial resolution has run into opposition from Russia and China, due to their close ties with Syria, and from other member states and NGOs who fear that a resolution will lead to external military intervention. This debate calls into question selective western nations instance on taking action in human rights abuse cases, Syria but not Palestine, for example. (Guardian)
As the violence in Syria continues, the UN Security Council remains “stalled” on the western-backed resolution threatening sanctions on Syria. In October, Russia and China vetoed the resolution, eliciting intense criticism from the US. While no one wants the human rights abuses to continue, the resolution is does not sufficiently guarantee that the violence will stop. There is a legitimate concern that if Syria does not comply with the resolution, which it is unlikely to do, their non-compliance will be used to justify increased Western involvement and the increased use of force in Syria. (Foreign Policy)
Investigative reporter Colum Lynch reveals why US diplomats worked behind the scenes to eliminate an EU proposal for “appropriate action” to stop human rights abuses in Syria. This proposal would call for the Human Rights Council’s referral of the Syrian case to the Security Council, and US officials fear that this may set a precedent that could be used against Israel in the future. Furthermore, an earlier Rights Council draft resolution condemning Syria and calling for accountability included a reference to the International Criminal Court, which has been dropped at US insistence. (Foreign Policy)
Although Syrian security forces have killed 2,600 civilian protestors during the last 6 months, the UN Security Council has failed to act on two draft resolutions. The Western resolution, sponsored by the EU and supported by the US, calls for sanctions on the Assad regime. The Russian draft, backed by China, does not. Director of the Damascus Center for Human Rights, Radwan Ziadeh points to Russia’s historical relationship with Syria, strengthened by military and economic agreements. Russia and China also opposed NATO’s air campaign in Libya, and these two veto-wielding members of the Security Council, along with Brazil, India, and South Africa, do not wish to see Western powers overstep their Security Council mandate yet again. (Inter Press Service News Agency)
The Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights released a report in August documenting widespread and systematic human rights abuses by Syrian security forces during their five-month military operation against mostly peaceful anti-government protestors. Although OHCHR identified 1900 civilian casualties and 50 Syrian officials allegedly responsible for these crimes, the International Criminal Court currently lacks jurisdiction to investigate the Syrian crackdown by President Bashar al-Assad. Because Syria is not a State Party to the Rome Statute, an ICC investigation hinges upon UN Security Council authorization. The UN Human Rights Council has ordered an independent human rights probe of Syrian violence, but it remains unclear whether the Security Council will call for ICC prosecution, as it has in Sudan and Libya. (Washington Post
On August 18 the UN’s Human Rights Council released a report on the situation in Syria, claiming evidence may be found of crimes against humanity. This article, from Ahram Online, excerpts specific parts of the UN report detailing the Syrian government’s actions and attempts to provide a comprehensive summary of the current state of events. The report details arbitrary killing and the torture of peaceful protestors, a clear violation of human rights. (Ahram Online)
The coalition of India, Brazil, and South Africa (IBSA) went to Syria in early August to promote a peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict, condemning violence from all sides. All three countries are currently elected members of the UN Security Council with long-standing bids for permanent seats, and all three oppose military intervention in Syria. As US power wanes, these emerging countries may play a larger role by engaging with developing countries. Ultimately, the delegation to Damascus demonstrates how IBSA, a coalition of multi-ethnic democracies, may influence innovative international diplomacy in the future. (Inter Press Service News Agency)
The UK, France, Germany and Portugal have submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council condemning Syria for its deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. The draft resolution condemns the systematic violation of the human rights by Syrian authorities. It does not provide for UN sanctions or military intervention against Syria (and so is unlike the Security Council resolutions on Libya). However, it does demand Syria comply with a UN human rights council inquiry and launch its own impartial investigation into the violence against protesters. If the draft resolution is put before the Security Council, Russia is likely to veto the resolution. (Guardian)
Recent developments indicate that the Hezbollah-backed candidate will become the next Prime Minister of Lebanon, which could strain the country's foreign relations. Hezbollah recently forced the collapse of the Hariri government over its refusal to withdraw support from the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The front runner for Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, previously served in the post and had positive relationships with neighboring states and Western countries, which could bode well for him being a consensus candidate despite Hezbollah's backing. (The Washington Post)
The prosecutor for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) has filed indictments, in the midst of a political crisis. The Lebanon government collapsed last week after Hizbollah pulled out of the coalition, apparently expecting that the indictments will implicate some of its group. At this stage, the indictments remain confidential while they are reviewed by a pre-trial judge. There were some gatherings on Beirut streets following the announcement, and security was stepped up. (The National, Abu Dhabi)
Lebanon's tenuous coalition government has collapsed, after Hizbullah pulled out. This comes amid speculation that senior members of the group will be indicted by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The country is left in a state of political instability, heightening the already highly politicized context in which the STL is operating. The publication of indictments, which is imminent, could be a flashpoint for violence; and it appears almost certain Hizbullah will refuse to cooperate with the tribunal. (Time)
WikiLeaks released documents revealing how difficult it has been for prosecutors for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to investigate the murder of Rafiq Hariri. The UN inquiry has been frustrated by a lack of cooperation from Syria and France, as well at other western countries. The probe also faces opposition from the Lebanese organization Hezbollah, which has warned that there will be grave consequences in Lebanon if it continues. (Ma'an News Agency)
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has authored a report on the status of the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701. Resolution 1701 ended the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon. Ban noted that Israel and Lebanon have made "no progress" and that "a number of violations" of the resolution have been committed. Ban singled out Israeli violations of Lebanese territory, and addressed concerns about Hezbollah's military capacity. He reaffirmed the need for the Lebanese state to exercise control over weapons in its borders, while calling for the free operation of UN's peacekeeping force in Lebanon. (UN News Center)
The United Nations is concerned about recent confrontations between the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and locals. Observers say that Hezbollah may have motivated the local population to confront UNIFIL because Hezbollah said to be displeased with recent UNIFIL military exercises. Observers say more generally that Hezbollah feels that UNIFIL, which is mandated by Security Council Resolution 1701 to halt weapons flow into Southern Lebanon, is an "unwelcome guest." The UN may need to allay fears that the peacekeeping force disproportionately serves Israeli goals, or else many Lebanese may continue to view UNIFIL operations with suspicion. (Al Jazeera)
Security Council members remain divided over how to address the crisis in Lebanon, states Security Council Report. The US has drafted a statement condemning countries that support the Hezbollah opposition. In response, Libya, Russia and South Africa block any Security Council action, suspicious that the US is using the issue to fight a proxy war with Iran and Syria. As a result, the author suggests that the Security Council may ask the Qatar-led Arab League to mediate between Hezbollah and the Lebanese government.
Countries intervene in Lebanon and use it as a political battleground to fight over regional and global rivalries. While the US, France, Saudi Arabia and Egypt militarily supports the Lebanese coalition government, Iran and Syria provide arms to the Hezbollah opposition. The BBC claims that this external intervention destabilizes an already fragile domestic situation. Lebanon may face another civil war, which could also fuel further violence in the volatile Middle East.
The Daily Star - Lebanon urges members of the UN Security Council to address the underlying issues causing the protracted conflict in Lebanon, between Israel and Hizbollah. The author notes that the Security Council unduly emphasizes the rearming of Hizbollah as the key element undermining peace in the country. However, Israel continues to occupy Lebanese territory taken during the 2006 war, violates the country's air space and fails to cooperate with UN peacekeepers in removing unexploded ordinance in Lebanon.
Back in 2006, the UN Security Council issued the Resolution 1701 to end fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in south Lebanon. Following up on the resolution, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has urged Lebanese leaders to consensually select a president, without foreign interference. Ban stressed that a broadly supported president could help stabilize political life in Lebanon. In addition, he urged Syria and Israel to join efforts to rebuild Lebanon's stability. But UNIFIL states that Hezbollah has violated the UN arms embargo at Lebanon's border with Syria, and Israel has failed to provide information about its forces as requested by the UN mission in Lebanon. (Agence France-Presse)
Lebanese parliament members must vote on a new president by November 23, 2007. After the chaotic 2005 Syrian-influenced constitutional amendment, the UN Security Council is hoping for a free and fair election. The presidential candidate is still undefined and with all the "foreign powers" "pushing and pulling" a consensus will take time. In addition, the UN peacekeeping force (UNIFIL) maintains control over South Lebanon, on the border with Israel, to monitor Hezbollah's influence and promote regional peace. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)
This PolicyWatch article criticizes UNIFIL's response to a June 24, 2007 roadside bomb which killed three Colombian and three Spanish peacekeepers. Since the attack, many UNIFIL troops have remained at their bases. Instead, they should build personal relationships with residents of southern Lebanon, and continue training the Lebanese Armed Forces. These measures will improve the quality and quantity of UNIFIL's intelligence in the area, and help them to prevent future attacks, and illegal arms smuggling across the border from Syria.
Because the UN Security Council ignores the political issues at the heart of conflict in Lebanon, UNIFIL's dramatic increase in troops there has not lessened conflict between Israel, Hezbolah and militant groups, argues Inter Press Service. According to Professor Naseer Aruri, the root causes include the status of Palestine, but also the US and Israel's attempts to impose a new political order in the Middle East by manipulating Shia and non-Shia divisions. Thus UNIFIL's goal of Lebanese political stability requires the UN to reclaim its legitimacy by disassociating from the agenda of the US and Israel.
The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1757 establishing a Special Tribunal to try those suspected of assassinating former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The resolution was passed in a 10-0 vote with China, Russia, Qatar, South Africa and Indonesia abstaining. Opponents believed that it was unnecessary to invoke Chapter 7 of the UN Charter and force a decision on the Lebanese people. Moscow asserts that the passing of the resolution infringes Lebanon's sovereignty. Prior to the decision, Lebanese opposition leader Michel Aoun pointed out that the Tribunal is not as important as accusing someone of the crime. The UN has not charged anyone yet. (Daily Star â€“ Lebanon)
Expressing concern at reports of weapons smuggling from Syria to Lebanon, the Security Council authorizes a mission to evaluate border-monitoring between the two countries. The Council reiterates its demand that Syria tighten its border, and urges all countries to enforce the arms ban on Hezbollah imposed by a Council resolution following the war in Lebanon in 2006. The Council also expresses concern at Israeli violations of Lebanese air-space and appeals to both parties to respect the ceasefire and UN-drawn boundary between Israel and Lebanon. (Associated Press)
The Independent reports that Lebanon, caught in conflicts and proxy conflicts involving the US, Israel, Syria and Iran, will continue to suffer. Israel and Hizbollah seem likely to fight again in Lebanon, Hizbollah has increased its pressure on the Lebanese government to resign, and the US and Israel have sent warnings to Iran concerning its nuclear ambitions. Lebanese army commander General Michel Sulieman blames Lebanon's politicians for not creating the unity which might resolve its problems.
Christian Science Monitor reports that the United Nations Interim Force (UNIFIL) in Lebanon has expanded its responsibilities beyond monitoring borders and liaising between the Lebanese and Israeli governments, to also include providing humanitarian aid in the region. Milos Strugar, the mission's senior adviser says that their efforts are crucial to maintaining the good will of the local population and that the focus is now on "controlling the situation on the ground." Leadership of UNIFIL has now passed from the French to the Italians.
The International Herald Tribune reports that Iran and Saudi Arabia are collaborating in an effort to stop Lebanon from sliding into civil war. Whilst the US would prefer to reduce Iran's regional influence, it has an interest in the political stability of Lebanon and has so far not objected to the partnership. Hezbollah's leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, who has been trying to overthrow the US-backed Lebanese government, claims that an agreement between Tehran and Riyadh will not be binding on the Lebanese who must "seek their own interests."
This Haaretz article reports that Israel and Syria have been negotiating a secret peace deal between September 2004 and July 2006. Though not legally binding, the agreement carries political weight, covering amongst other things, relations between the parties and military co-operation. Former Director General at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Dr. Alon Liel, confirms the covert talks but Israel Radio quotes unnamed senior Israeli officials who deny any such negotiations.
This Der Spiegel article points out inconsistencies in the mandate of UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). UNIFIL was created to establish a cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah. Yet, apart from clearing mines, the 5,700 peacekeepers have little to do. The mandate does not allow peacekeepers to disarm Hezbollah or to help the local communities, increasing irritation among the Lebanese population. With additional troops due to arrive in the region by the end of November 2006, the situation calls for a reconsideration of the UNIFIL mandate in Lebanon.
While UN peacekeepers are deploying in Lebanon, their chief, Alain Pelligrini, calls on Israel to stop its overflights of Lebanese territory. Pelligrini said the overflights violate Security Council resolution 1701, suggesting a review of the UN peacekeeping mandate to allow the use of force to prevent future overflights. Yet, Israel refuses to halt its jets from flying over Lebanon's airspace despite the call. (International Herald Tribune)
While UN peacekeeping troops replace Israeli armed forces pulling out of Lebanon, no consensus exists on the implementation of the arms embargo. The main issue right now shifts from Israel-Hezbollah clashes to the relationship between Lebanon and Hezbollah, "and whether it will remain an independent militia in a democratic country," an expert says. As a result, the question arises whether the UN peacekeeping's mandate should include the disarmament of Hezbollah. (Christian Science Monitor)
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urges foreign leaders to consider the recent Lebanon conflict as "a wake-up call" to find a sustainable solution to the Arab-Israeli disputes and revive the Middle East peace process. According to this International Herald Tribune article, foreign ministers will discuss whether or not to give the Security Council the responsibility for overseeing efforts to settle decades of Middle East conflicts.
United Nations Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland has described Israel's use of cluster bombs at the end of the conflict in Lebanon as "completely immoral." Israeli Defense Forces dropped as many as 100, 000 when the fighting drew to a close, leaving huge problems for refugees returning home. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan again highlighted the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and repeated his call for Israel to lift its blockade to "sustain life." (Guardian
In this Maxims News
piece, the former head of the UN's weapons inspection team in Iraq, Hans Blix, analyzes the motives behind Middle Eastern actors' actions and their actual outcomes. Citing Israel's intervention in Lebanon, he concludes that no parties have achieved their expected goals through military actions. Blix wonders whether the players involved in Middle East conflicts should, "in the future, increase their readiness to enter into talks without first going through a phase of suffering, death and destruction."
Israeli ground and aerial bombardments of Lebanon have inflicted catastrophic destruction upon to Lebanon's infrastructures. In addition to humanitarian disaster, Israeli attacks damaged many vital points, such as roads, water treatment plants, electrical facilities and businesses, putting the socio-economical future of the country at stake. This Amnesty International
report questions the legality of Israeli's bombardments in light of international humanitarian law.
The provisional rules of engagement for the strengthened UNIFIL do not include actively searching for Hezbollah weaponry. Responsibility for disarming Hezbollah rests with the Lebanese army. The confidential draft obtained by Le Monde authorizes the 15,000 troops to use force in self defense, to protect civilians and to prevent the launching of attacks from the buffer zone between the "Blue Line" and the Litani river. France, pressured by the UN to lead the peacekeeping force, had demanded a robust mandate and the UN stresses that the provisional rules of engagement incorporate Paris' requests.
This Christian Science Monitor article looks at the disputed territory of the Shebaa Farms. Located on mountains between the Golan Heights and Lebanon, Hezbollah have used Israeli claims to the land as justification for their campaign of violence against Israel. While no-one expects Hezbollah to lay down their weapons if the Shebaa Farms dispute was resolved in Lebanon's favor, many observers feel such a settlement would undermine Hezbollah's military wing by removing their raison d'etre and bolster the authority of the Lebanese government.
This Guardian editorial commends UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's swift condemnation of the Israeli commando raid on the village of Bodai in Lebanon. As Israel and Hezbollah both test the limits of the fragile ceasefire, the Guardian stresses the immediate need for the deployment of an international force. However, it warns that Israel's taking the law into its own hands has made the prospect of such an international force more difficult, with states wary of putting their troops in the middle of warring parties.
Lakhdar Brahimi, former special adviser to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, challenges Israel's and Washington's assertions regarding the root causes of the conflict in Lebanon. Recalling how Hezbollah "came into existence as a consequence of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982," he proposes encouraging Hezbollah to play a "responsible role" in Lebanese politics. He argues it would then have more difficulties rejecting the Lebanese state's exclusive right to use force. (New York Times)
The UN asks France to lead the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon. Wary of putting French troops in the middle of warring Israeli and Hezbollah fighters, Paris insists that its troops obtain clear rules of engagement. Paris also wants a commitment from Hezbollah that it will cooperate with Lebanese and UN troops, tasked with monitoring the UN-brokered ceasefire and enforcing the arms embargo. Security Council Resolution 1701 strengthened the UN Mission in Lebanon (UNIFIL) force to 15,000 troops. (Christian Science Monitor
Russia has proposed a draft resolution
at the UN Security Council calling for a 72 hour ceasefire to allow for humanitarian agencies to reach those in need and for diplomats to undertake "extraordinary diplomatic efforts" to end the crisis. Criticizing prolonged negotiations between the US and France, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin stated "this diplomatic activity is not being conducted in a quiet academic environment. War is raging in Lebanon, and the humanitarian situation is getting catastrophic." Israel and the US have rejected his call for a temporary truce, describing it as "unhelpful" and "playing games." (Guardian