Lebanon and Syria
France and the US have circulated a draft resolution aiming at ending the conflict in Lebanon. Lebanon and Arab countries have dismissed the text for not including any demand on the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon. The weak language only remains "mindful" of the sensitivity of the issues of Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails and simply refers to the need to resolve ownership of the disputed Shebaa Farms areas.
The Security Council has extended the mandate of the International Independent Investigation Commission's inquiry on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Security Council members condemn Syria for failing to provide full and unconditional cooperation to the UN investigation. The findings of the Commission's second report "confirms its previous conclusions" suggesting Syrian involvement in the killing.
The second report of the Security Council's International Independent Investigation Commission reinforces preliminary findings of both Lebanese and Syrian involvement in the death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The report accuses Damascus of manipulating key suspects and burning intelligence documents concerning Lebanon. "Given the slow pace with which the Syrian authorities are discharging their commitments to the Council," chief prosecutor Detlev Mehlis recommended that the Security Council extend the commission's mandate for a minimum of six months.
The UN Security Council passed a resolution calling on Syria to cooperate with the efforts to investigate the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. To obtain the consent of veto-wielding China and Russia, the US, Britain, and France agreed to replace the threat of sanctions against Damascus by a warning of "further action" if Syria fails to collaborate. For previous version of the draft resolution, click here
The report of the Security Council's International Independent Investigation Commission points to the direct involvement of both Lebanese and Syrian officials in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Investigators believe that Hariri's growing opposition to Syria's occupation of Lebanon angered Syrian authorities. The Security Council has extended the mandate of the Commission to continue the investigation.
The Security Council has established an "international independent investigation Commission" based in Lebanon to investigate the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. To ensure an effective probe into Hariri's murder, the Council calls on Lebanese authorities to grant the Commission full access to information relevant to the inquiry. If Beirut fails to cooperate with the UN investigation into the "terrorist act," it could face UN sanctions which seek to root out terrorism.
This article provides a historical overview of Lebanon and the roots of Syrian interference in the country. In the mid 1970's, Palestinians and Shiites organized themselves politically and militarily and gradually overtook the Christian-Maronite dominant force in Lebanon. With war raging between the PLO and the Maronites, Syria decided to intervene to avoid a PLO-dominated Lebanon. Syria sent 40,000 troops into Lebanon to occupy its neighbor and protect its national interests. In later years Syria found an ally in Hizbullah, and following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri Damascus justifies its presence in Lebanon by arguing interference prevents renewed civil war. (Informed Comment)
Dr. Asher Kaufman of Hebrew University's Truman Institue came upon archival materials supporting the claim that the Shabaa Farms belong to Lebanon. The documents show that French maps in the 1930s mistakenly put Shabaa on the Syrian side of the border. (Ha'aretz
The Security Council called on Syria to finally establish formal diplomatic ties with Lebanon and to cooperate with Beirut to demarcate the border in the areas that are disputed. While the resolution is aimed at restoring sovereignty in Lebanon, Syria criticized the resolution as unnecessary and described it as "a new precedent in international relations in terms of interference in countries' internal affairs."
Resolution 1664 calls on Secretary General Kofi Annan to negotiate with Beirut on a tribunal to prosecute suspects in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The resolution requests Annan report back to the Council once the details of the tribunal - including the jurisdiction, location, and financing - are finalized.
This report by Secretary General Kofi Annan provides a set of recommendations for an international tribunal to try suspects in the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. According to Annan, the tribunal should be located outside Lebanon, include both Lebanese and international judges and prosecutors, and have jurisdiction over all those responsible for the attack.
This report assesses Lebanon's progress towards territorial integrity and political independence. As required under Security Council Resolution 1559, Syrian troops withdrew from Lebanon and free and credible elections were conducted. However, the Secretary General remains concerned with the refusal of armed militias to disband and disarm.
The US and France sponsored Resolution 1559 calling for the removal of "all foreign forces" from Lebanon and for the disarmament of "all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias."
This Interim Report covers UNIFIL issues such as Israeli withdrawal, humanitarian and economic issues, and financial matters.
The resolution condemns the incursion of Israeli forces into Beirut, a move in violation of previous cease-fires and Security Council resolutions. Resolution 520 stresses respect for Lebanese sovereignty.
The resolution demands cessation of military activities by all parties and again calls for Israel's withdrawal to the "internationally recognized boundaries of Lebanon."
The resolution calls on Israel to withdraw its forces from Lebanese territory and establishes the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
George Monbiot documents the history of "hundreds of violations of the â€˜blue line'" between Israel and Lebanon since Israel's withdrawal in May 2000. While Hezbollah "fired the first shots" of the latest conflict by kidnapping Israeli soldiers on July 12, 2006, the long history of Israeli military action within Lebanon renders the strike "simply one instance in a long sequence of small incursions and attacks over the past six years by both sides." Monbiot claims that the Israeli response was premeditated, designed in advance and kept for "an appropriate excuse." (Guardian)
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert welcomed with reservations a Lebanese offer to deploy thousands of troops on its border with Israel as an "interesting step." The US echoed his concern that the force would fail to contain Hezbollah without a strong international force also deployed in the region. While Israel refuses to leave Lebanon before such a force takes up position, the offer from Beirut raises hopes of agreement on a draft Security Council resolution aimed at ending the conflict. (International Herald Tribune)
In this Independent
opinion piece, Robert Fisk takes a highly critical look at the draft resolution
on ending the Lebanese conflict put forward by the US and France. Fisk describes the resolution as "a document of such bias and mendacity" for making no reference to the "obscenely disproportionate violence employed by Israel." He warns that its adoption would only prolong the violence.
This Haaretz opinion piece sees "Israel's greed for land" as the origin of the conflict in Lebanon. The article does not accuse Israel of seeking to conquer, but rather of refusing to give up the occupied territories of Palestine and entrenching its position in the Golan Heights. The author describes these occupations as the "struggle's engine." The author argues that ending the occupation of the Golan Heights would do more for Israeli security "than a thousand useless daring operations in Baalbek."
France refuses to take part in discussions on a peacekeeping force for Lebanon, insisting that the ongoing violence renders any Security Council discussion on a multinational force pointless. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, hinting at frustration over possible internal politics at the Security Council, asked the ambassadors of the Council's permanent members to put their differences aside to solve the conflict. The polar opposite of Washington's position that a peacekeeping force be in place before agreement on a ceasefire, the French stance underlines the deep division that exists at the UN on conditions for a cessation of hostilities. (Associated Press)
In this interview with Le Monde, Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Jean-Marie Guéhenno warns that the deployment of a multinational peacekeeping force (alone) cannot solve the conflict in the Middle East. He stresses the need for a halt in the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah for such a peacekeeping force to prove effective. He points to how the disarmament of militias such as Hezbollah "almost always takes place on the basis of political processes," arguing that a military approach alone cannot create conditions for a lasting peace.
While violence continues in the Middle East with the Israeli massacre of over 50 civilians at Qana and Hezbollah firing its biggest ever barrage of rockets on Israel, the European Union opted not to call for a ceasefire and the UN Security Council postponed its discussion on ending hostilities. Secretary General Kofi Annan urged all ambassadors of the permanent members of the Security Council to act quickly to address the situation and again stressed the need for unity. However unity seems a long way off, with British Ambassador Sir Emyr Jones Parry stating "We can't get away from the fact that there's a real difference of perspectives." (Guardian)
This Human Rights Watch report highlights the "systematic failure" of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to distinguish between combatants and civilians, violating "one of the most fundamental tenets of the laws of war." The report presents evidence of the apparent deliberate targeting of civilians, undermining Tel Aviv's classification of civilian deaths as mere accidents and supporting arguments that some IDF attacks constitute war crimes.
The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a statement "deploring" Israel's massive destruction of the village of Qana, killing more than 50 civilians, mostly women and children. The US delegation stopped short of any condemnation of the attack and also rejected Secretary General Kofi Annan's calls to demand an immediate ceasefire. In his appeal to the Council, Annan highlighted the threat to the reputation of the UN caused by the Council's failure to take action. (Reuters)
This Guardian article highlights the frustration and anger at Washington's blocking tactics at the UN Security Council. Following US Ambassador John Bolton's veto of a draft resolution calling for the release of captured Israeli soldiers and the cessation of Israel's attack on the Gaza Strip, the US also thwarted a resolution condemning the killing by Israel of the UN's own observers in Lebanon. Senior politicians and former diplomats stress the danger such tactics pose to the Middle East, international peace and security and to the reputation of the UN itself.
Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has proposed a comprehensive seven-point plan to end the war. The plan calls for the unconditional release of Israeli and Lebanese prisoners and the withdrawal of Israeli forces behind the Blue Line. It rejects the deployment of an international force, accepting only Lebanese and UN forces in the South. It advocates the temporary placement of the Shebaa Farms, and other disputed areas, under UN authority. Submitted at the international conference on the Lebanese crisis in Rome, Lebanon see the plan as key to negotiations for a Security Council Resolution to end the conflict.
The US has rejected calls by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East. Despite the civilian death toll rising sharply and huge damage to civilian infrastructure, Washington continues to staunchly back Israeli actions in Lebanon. While US Ambassador John Bolton describes a ceasefire as pointless without a "comprehensive solution," Annan stresses the futility of the violence. He accused Hezbollah of holding "an entire nation hostage" and criticized Israel's "excessive use of force" that only weakens Lebanon's government and increasing support for Hezbollah. (Reuters)
In his briefing to the UN Security Council, Secretary General Kofi Annan strongly pushed for an immediate ceasefire in Lebanon and Israel. Telling the Council not to "abandon the Lebanese people in their hour of need," his briefing prompted different reactions from ambassadors. While Qatar, the Council's only Arab member, welcomed the statement, US ambassador John Bolton rejected the idea that Hezbollah would honor a ceasefire. Israeli Ambassador Dan Gillerman announced a ceasefire was impossible, describing the Secretary General's proposals as "disturbing." (Integrated Regional Information Networks)
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan argues that the Security Council ought to take practical, "action-orientated" steps to stop the violence that has erupted in the Middle East. He advocates the deployment of a stabilization force in the region. His comments follow Israeli attacks on Beirut and Hezbollah shelling of Haifa. With both sides seemingly indifferent to the suffering of civilians, Kofi Annan again repeated his call that international humanitarian law be respected and urged both parties to make an effort to spare civilians and civilian infrastructure. (UN News)
Following the escalation in the violence in Lebanon, Palestine and Israel, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has sent three of his closest advisors to the Middle East and has engaged in extensive "telephone diplomacy" with leaders from the region and from around the world in attempt to end the fighting. He expressed particular concern at the killing of civilians following Israeli bombing of Beirut and Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israeli towns. He reminded the parties of their obligations under the law of armed conflict. He again stressed the importance of addressing the impending humanitarian disaster in Gaza. (UN News)
Chief UN investigator Serge Brammertz has submitted his second report on the assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri. Rather than presenting firm findings, the report offers the Security Council multiple scenarios as to how the attack on Hariri was carried out, who was behind it and why. With so much uncertainty, Lebanon has called for an extension of his panel's mandate for another year. (Daily Star - Lebanon)
This International Herald Tribune article argues that Hezbollah finds itself caught between its responsibility to Lebanon and its loyalties to Iran and Syria. The author warns that the Hezbollah's inability to decide whether to disarm, and to become solely a Lebanese political party, promises more sectarian friction. While Hezbollah's military capacity is a factor in the political posturing between Iran and the USA, it must weigh its allegiance to Iran against the fact that keeping its arsenal could precipitate another Lebanese civil war – this time between Sunnis and Shiites.
This Boston Globe article suggests that the real effect of Security Council Resolution 1680 that called for Syria to establish diplomatic ties with Lebanon will be to "stiffen Damascus' resolve" in refusing to create formal links with Beirut. Syria argues that diplomatic relations are unnecessary due to the close relationship between the two countries, although Lebanon has long suspected that Syria does not recognize it as an independent country. Syria has yet to respond to Beirut's desire for a meeting to settle long standing differences.
According to a UN report, the Lebanese resistance movement Hizballah – labeled a terrorist organization by the US and the UK – has not yet complied with a Security Council resolution adopted in 2004 that calls for the disarming of Lebanon's militias. Meanwhile, Beirut accuses Iran and Syria of backing Hizballah in its fight against Israeli occupation in southern Lebanon. UN special envoy Terje Roed-Larsen expressed concerns that Hizballah's refusal to disarm will impede the peace process in Lebanon. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty)
The UN Security Council adopted a resolution, commencing negotiations to establish a tribunal to try the assassins of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Harari. Sources state the court will consist of international and Lebanese judges, operating under both systems of law, with the "international judges having ultimate say." The issue of financing of the trial was not addressed in the resolution. (Daily Star - Lebanon)
Though Syria did not allow UN investigator Serge Brammertz to question President Bashar al-Assad on the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, some analysts speculate that Syria might adopt a new approach to its handling of the probe. Indeed, a reshuffling of high-level officials and shifts in Syria's own judicial proceedings suggest Damascus may move away from its previous approach - refuting the UN's findings and questioning the legitimacy of key witnesses – and take a more low-profile tack concerning the investigation. (Integrated Regional Information Networks)
The UN investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri will have major political implications for the Middle East. The US is especially interested in evidence proving that Syria was behind the attack to provide Washington the justification it needs to sanction the Assad regime. However, Der Speigel questions whether the evidence against Syria would hold up before an international court.
UN prosecutor Detlev Mehlis released a second report of the investigation into former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's assassination. The report provides new evidence suggesting Syrian involvement in the killing and outlines Damascus' efforts to impede the probe. The report's findings set the stage for a renewed US push for sanctions against Syria. However, Washington's key diplomatic partner in this arena, France, considers the findings not yet conclusive enough to justify an explicit threat of sanctions. (Washington Post)
If the UN Security Council decides to subject Syria to "smart sanctions"- tailor-made measures targeting the government and not the people - it could seriously undermine Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's regime, argues Andrew Tabler of the Institute of Current World Affairs. Such sanctions could take many forms, including air and arms embargoes, travel bans on Syrian officials, or a ban on importing Syrian oil, all of which could alienate the already weakened regime from the international community. (Daily Star)
The US and French efforts to sanction the Syrian regime over the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri represent a concerted offensive to "beat the Arab world into submission," argues Le Monde Diplomatique. According to independent Syrian journalist Sami Moubayed, regardless of whether the Assad regime is found guilty or innocent in the Hariri case, Syria will pay for its melding in Lebanon, its decision to oppose the war on Iraq, and its support for the insurgency and resistance in Palestine.
Is it fair to have the UN- rather than a criminal court- investigate the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri? The author of this Asharq Al-Awsat article argues that Security Council resolution 1636 gives the head of the UN Commission sweeping powers to determine Syria's fate, but "without the due process afforded to suspects and defendants alike by the judicial system of well-thinking democracies."
What makes the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri more important than previous high-profile political murders? Why does his death justify a UN investigation? The author of this Center for Research on Globalization article claims that the US is using the Hariri murder as an excuse to bring a regime change in Syria, just as the Bush administration used nuclear weapons as a pretext to invade Iraq.
The Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution that supports travel bans and a freeze in the assets of Lebanese and Syrian officials and any other individuals who are declared suspects in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. But in order to get support from veto-wielding Russia and China, the Council dropped a direct threat of economic sanctions against Syria, instead warning for "further action" in the event of noncompliance. (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
Syria is illegally transferring arms and people to Palestinian militia groups stationed in Lebanon, reports UN special envoy Terje Roed-Larsen. As a result, the Security Council will likely increase pressure building against Damascus, where the US, France and Britain accuse Syria of supporting terrorism. (New York Times)
The US, France and Britain introduced a Security Council resolution threatening sanctions against Syria. If the Syrian government does not cooperate in the investigations regarding its alleged involvement in the assassination of the Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, US President George Bush said he would not rule out using military force against Syria. While China, Russia, and Algeria reject these plans, Syria calls the threats a rush judgment by Washington "to push its political agenda through the Security Council." (Los Angeles Times)
According to the Washington Post, the Security Council should sanction the Syrian regime until the government accepts responsibility for the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and turns over those implicated in the crime. By doing so, the Security Council would also send a strong message to other states that sponsor terrorism.
The US and France are planning to introduce two UN resolutions aimed at holding Syria accountable for its implication in the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and for trafficking people and illicit arms into Lebanon. The Bush administration is also considering punishing Syria for aiding extremists in Iraq. However, France and other nations want to focus on Syria's intervention in Lebanon, in order to prevent backlash from Arab countries. (Washington Post)
The regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad could be shaken to its core if a UN probe points to Syrian involvement in the murder of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri. UN Prosecutor Detlev Mehlis asked Assad to fully cooperate with the probe and surrender any Syrians named by the UN investigators as accomplices in the killing. Assad's failure to comply could prompt the US and France to take measures such as obtaining a Security Council resolution slapping punitive measures on Syria, including economic and trade sanctions. (Associated Press)
At a high-level UN meeting, the US, the UN and several European and Arab governments issued a new warning to Syria to stop all meddling in Lebanon and fully cooperate with the UN investigation team into the assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri. This meeting marked the first time that key Arab governments, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, publicly rallied behind the US-backed initiative to support the Lebanese government. This gathering intended to put Lebanon high on the international agenda while increasing Syria's isolation. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
After Lebanon's Parliament gave a vote of confidence to formally establish the country's new Cabinet, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan issued a statement reiterating the world body's hope for the implementation of Resolution 1559 and Hizbullah's disarmament. However, fearful of increased outside pressure following the statement, Hizbullah members use their place in the Cabinet to warn the international community to "respect the choice of the Lebanese people." (Daily Star - Lebanon)
Le Monde diplomatique says the cooperation between the US and France on Syrian troop withdrawal from Lebanon "surprises even those involved." Despite differences over the disarmament of Hezbollah, the two permanent members of the Security Council may have pushed for Resolution 1559 in order to alleviate tensions over Iraq.
The Secretary General's UN verification team has reported that Syria fully withdrew its military forces, but was "unable to conclude with certainty" that all of Syrian intelligence had left Lebanon. While the UN team believes that Syria's military withdrawal restricts Damascus' ability to dominate Lebanon, will this move be extensive enough to satisfy the UN Security Council – and Washington in particular? (Washington Post)
Ha'aretz reports that the UN and the US are discussing new ways to deal with the long-standing argument between Israel and Lebanon over the Shaba Farms area, including replacing Israeli forces with a UN force. The plan foresees an Israeli withdrawal from the area, which both the UN and Israel recognize as Syrian territory, in return for the disarmament of Hizbullah. But Lebanon insists Shaba is Lebanese territory and will not accept disarmament as long as the area remains under occupation. With much at stake in upcoming elections, Lebanon's main opposition leaders will unlikely support Hizbullah disarmament.
In this letter, Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Shara' informs the Security Council of Syria's full withdrawal from Lebanon. Al-Shara' emphasizes Syria's "unwavering commitment to the Charter of the United Nations and its resolutions," but also points to the "positive role" his country played in ending the Lebanese civil war and "preserving Lebanon's territorial integrity." In concluding remarks, al-Shara' urges the Council to make every effort to implement its resolutions calling for Israeli withdrawal from Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian territories. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
As the Syrian government's deadline approaches for withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, most troops have left the country, ending 29 years of military involvement. At the height of the Lebanese civil war, Damascus stationed approximately 40,000 troops in the country. Under the banner of "peacekeepers," these troops helped maintain Syria's political influence over Beirut. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has sent a team to Lebanon to verify that Syria has complied with UN resolutions and has removed all forces. (Guardian)
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan will present a report to the Security Council on the progress of Resolution 1559, which was passed in September 2004 and called for the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon and the disarmament of Hizbullah. Following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Syria pledged to remove all its troops from Lebanese territory. Although a partial Syrian pullout has started, Hizbullah refuses to disarm as long as Israel occupies the Shebaa farms in South Lebanon. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
As the Security Council discusses a resolution mandating an international investigation into the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Beirut denies it is trying to have the term "terrorist act" removed from the document. Lebanon's political opposition claims its government is meddling in the wording of the Resolution to avoid UN sanctions aimed at eradicating terrorism. In their final phrasing, France, the US and the UK reject a number of amendments suggested by the Lebanese government. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
From 1975 to 1990 Lebanese local politicians acted as pawns in various regional conflicts between Israel and the Arab world, Arab states, and the Iran-Iraq war. The US aim of establishing democracy and eradicating terrorist violence in the Middle East has once again turned Lebanon into a pawn, reducing it to a MidEast "laboratory for democracy." This simplistic strategy disregards the complexity of Lebanon and the importance Arab public opinion still attaches to Damascus. US and European leaders observing the "tide of freedom" sweeping through the region fail to recognize that Lebanese politics plays out all the tensions in the Middle East. (Le Monde diplomatique)
A UN inquiry into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has found that Syrian President Bashar Assad personally manufactured a climate of mistrust and tension that ultimately led to the killing of Hariri. The report on the inquiry accuses Assad of threatening Hariri, and claims the Syrian president said he "would rather break Lebanon over the heads of Hariri and the Druze leader Walid Jumblatt than see his word in Lebanon broken." Assad has denied the allegations and Syria's foreign ministry has demanded that UN Secretary General Kofi Annan remove the alleged threat from the document, arguing it is "untrue and lacks any material evidence." (Daily Star-Lebanon)
This Daily Star opinion piece argues that Lebanon is on its way to a second independence, and unlike when it first gained independence in 1943, "people power is the main vehicle for change." Despite Hizbullah and Amal's opposition to Security Council Resolution 1559, both parties have expressed support for a Syrian withdrawal. Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah's commitment to preserving Lebanon's internal stability leads the author to conclude that despite many challenges, "Lebanon's future is far more promising than its past."
Syrian President Bashar Assad has assured UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that Syrian troops and intelligence agents will completely withdraw from Lebanon, in compliance with Security Council Resolution 1559. Annan, who spoke with Assad at the Arab summit in Algiers, could not confirm a deadline for complete withdrawal, but a Syrian-Lebanese military committee will formalize a timeframe for evacuation of the remaining troops. (Daily Star-Lebanon)
Following a meeting with UN Special Envoy Terje Roed Larsen, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has set a specific timetable for withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon to ensure free and fair elections in the country. Annan said he has "wide backing from both inside and outside the Security Council" and Larsen added "we simply expect that [withdrawal] happens." ( Aljazeera)
To safeguard Lebanon's stability, some Security Council members consider sending UN peacekeepers into areas from which Syrian forces are withdrawing. Proposals include a redeployment of certain UNIFIL troops, currently stationed in South Lebanon. Critics warn that such a move "would be suicidal," as outside interference risks becoming "part of the problem and not part of the solution." (Christian Science Monitor)
UN Envoy to Lebanon Terje Roed-Larsen has warned Syria that the international community will "impose wide punitive sanctions" if Damascus does not comply immediately with Security Council Resolution 1559. Political and economic isolation could spell disaster for Syria's weak economy and a UN-imposed oil embargo would badly hurt the country. The proposed widespread sanctions would be similar to those formerly imposed on Iraq, Libya, North Korea and Iran. (Washington Post)
The White House has sharply criticized Syria's pledge to gradually withdraw from Lebanon, arguing Damascus tried to undermine Security Council Resolution 1559, which calls for a total and immediate withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanese territory. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan says he hopes Syria will pull out by April 2005, when Lebanon will hold national elections. (Washington Post)
Following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and the ensuing wave of anti-Syrian sentiment, Lebanese Prime Minister Omar Karami announced his resignation in an address to the parliament. In response to the opposition's harsh criticism of the government, Karami announced he did not want the government to be "a hurdle in front of those who want the good for this country." (Daily Star-Lebanon)
A three-member UN team has begun an investigation into the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri vowing "absolute impartiality and professionalism." Beirut has meanwhile launched its own investigation and blames Syria for the assassination of Hariri, mounting pressure on Damascus to withdraw Syrian troops from Lebanon. But a pullback towards the border will not satisfy Security Council members, who called for a total withdrawal in Resolution 1559. (Haaretz)
Following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the US and France have urged the Security Council to take measures "to punish those responsible for this terrorist attack." White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan points to Syria as the culprit, noting the attack was aimed at thwarting Lebanon's efforts to free itself of foreign occupation. Hariri advocated a Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, a demand that is echoed in Security Council resolution 1559. (International Herald Tribune)
The Daily Star argues that Beirut's pro-Syrian government maintains double standards in its denunciation of the anti-Syrian opposition. Interior Minister Suleiman Franjieh accuses the opposition of lobbying for Israeli demands and sharply criticizes such "outside interference," but condones Damascus's intrusion in Beirut. The author recommends Syria comply with Security Council Resolution 1559 and withdraw from Beirut without resorting to violence, arguing "a broken Lebanon is far more dangerous to its neighbors than an independent one."
Speaking in one of Beirut's southern suburbs, Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah justified the Syrian political and military presence in Lebanon as "a moral influence over politicians in keeping peace and finalizing national reconciliation." Nasrallah said that Security Council Resolution 1559, which calls for a Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, serves "the Israeli policies in inciting civil war and creating political chaos." (Daily Star-Lebanon)
Stressing France's commitment to "a free, independent and sovereign Lebanon," French President Jacques Chiraq has urged the Syrian-backed regime in Beirut to respect Security Council resolution 1559. The statement supports opposition candidates as Lebanon prepares for elections in May 2005, but the Lebanese Foreign Ministry said that the government is "not about to yield to this pressure." (Daily Star- Lebanon)
UN Security Council Resolution 1559 demanding Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon has turned the tide in Lebanese politics. Parties that were previously pro-Syrian have condemned Damascus's interference in Beirut, arguing Syrian and Lebanese forces have "transformed Lebanon into a police state." According to critics, Syria's refusal to abide by resolution 1559 discredits its insistence that Israel abide by Security Council Resolution 242, demanding Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and the West Bank. (Independent)
Israel fears that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's ill health could spark Palestinian refugees in Lebanon to launch attacks across the border. However, if militants do attack, Israel "may find that they have an inadvertent ally in Hizbullah." The September 2004 Security Council resolution calling on Syria to disengage from Lebanon has focused international pressure on Syria, Hizbullah and the Beirut government, and Palestinian refugee attacks could disrupt the delicate balance in the region. (Christian Science Monitor)
This Los Angeles Times op-ed piece notes that in spite of "dressing upâ€¦ the entire project in 'greater democracy' attire," French and US attempts to muscle Syria out of Lebanon could instead cause "dangerous and open-ended" conflict. The author argues that the same factors that destabilized Lebanon in the 1970s exist today, and that the Lebanese public prefers security and stability from a Syrian patron to "a vague promise of future democracy," a "return of the French era or the advent of Pax Americana."
The Security Council issued a statement calling specifically on Syria to comply with the September 2004 resolution calling on all foreign forces to leave Lebanon and for all militant groups to disarm. Syria and Lebanon have rejected the resolution, saying that it amounts to UN "interference" in the Syrian-Lebanese "bilateral relationship." (Agence France Presse)
Secretary General Kofi Annan released a report saying that Syria has failed to comply with UN Resolution 1559, which calls for free elections in Lebanon, disarmament of militias and withdrawal of all foreign forces. Syria has over 20,000 troops in Lebanon and has maintained political control there since 1976. Annan further dismissed justifications for Hezbollah's presence in southern Lebanon, claiming that Israel has withdrawn all its forces. (Washington Post)
Syria is redeploying its troops in Lebanon in response to increased international concern, including a UN Resolution passed in September calling for foreign forces to leave Lebanon. Syria, however, has said it is not bowing to outside pressure and is linking the issue to demands for Israel's withdrawal from Arab lands such as the Golan Heights and Chebaa Farms. (Associated Press)
Security Council Resolution 1559 calls for the cessation of Syrian interference in Lebanon as well as the disbanding of Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias such as Hizballah. Hizballah, Syria's "Lebanese card," is an important element of pressure on Israel over Israeli-occupied Syrian territory in the Golan Heights. (Middle East Report Online)
Lebanese movement Hezbollah has attacked Israeli positions in the disputed border area in South Lebanon. The UN says the area, captured by Israel during the 1967 Middle East war, belongs to Syria. (Guardian)
At Lebanon's request, the UN Mission will be renewed until July 31, 2003. Violations of the Blue Line and different provocations risk peace and stability on the border with Israel. (Reuters)
The pumping station at the Wazzani River, which flows for about two miles within Lebanon before entering Israel, has been supplying water for Lebanese villages for three months. The UN, the US and the EU discuss a peace "road map" to avoid a violent confrontation over water rights. (Washington Times)
The Israeli-Lebanon border drawn by the UN runs a real risk of causing a major confrontation. The Observer
recalls historic facts behind the current threat.
Although Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000 diminished the number of casualties along the border, it did not solve the roots of instability and violence. This ICG report recommends a number of concrete steps to reduce the potential trigger for an Arab-Israeli conflict.
As Israel accuses Hezbollah of preparing an attack on Israel if the US goes to war against Iraq, Lebanon says that Israel could use the US war as a chance to finish off Hezbollah, a social and political Lebanese movement. (Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News)
The European Union offers political and technical support to Israel and Lebanon as they struggle to reach an agreement on the al-Wazzani River. The UN plays a fundamental role in brokering the agreement. (Arabic News)
As the Lebanese President Emile Lahoud switched on the pumping station at the Wazzani River, a report from the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia says "Lebanon is standing pretty clearly on the right side of international law." (Naharnet)
YellowTimes columnist Marc Sirois, who lives in Beirut, discusses the recent tension surrounding rights to the Wazzani Springs where Lebanon has recently installed a pump to supply water to the impoverished south.
Lebanon wants the UN to mediate in a dispute with Israel about the use of a shared border river. Israel accuses Lebanon of diverting the course of the river as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says that the dispute might be a cause for war.(United Press International)
In the wake of UNIFIL's mandate being renewed, the UN is questioning the need for its 24-year-old peacekeeping force in Lebanon. Calm in the Lebanese/Israeli border remains fragile, but with Israeli warplanes violating Lebanese airspace on an almost daily basis, UNIFIL can only watch. (Christian Science Monitor)
The leader of Hizbullah's faction in the Lebanese parliament has declared that his organization does not recognize the "blue line" that UN Security Council Resolution 425 has established. The statement indicates Hizbullah's increased resolve to push Israel out of the disputed Shaba Farms. (Jerusalem Post)
The UN peacekeepers along the Lebanese-Israeli border cannot substantiate Israel's claim that the Hezbollah guerrillas in Southern Lebanon have thousands of rockets. Nevertheless Hezbollah continue to fire at Israeli military aircraft or Israeli forces at the Chebaa Farms area. (Associated Press)
Syria and Lebanon argue that the Shebaa Farms belong to Lebanon, and that Hizballah is simply resisting Israel's occupation of the district. The UN, however, "has decreed that the farms are Syrian territory, so that Hizballah's attacks in the farms are breaches of the Blue Line." (Middle East and Information Project, MERIP)
Despite Syrian and Lebanese assurances to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that they would try to curb guerrilla attacks on Israel from Lebanon, Hezbollah guerrillas fire more than two dozen mortars and rockets on Israeli outposts in one of the biggest cross-border attacks in two years. (Associated Press)
Lebanon and Syria object to the so-called "blue line," a border marked by the UN after Israel ended its occupation of southern Lebanon in May 2000. The two countries assert that the border should include the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms area. (The New Zealand Herald)
UN officials in Lebanon warn that increased violence between Lebanese Hizbullah fighters and the Israeli army along the volatile Israel-Lebanon border could plunge the region into war. Timur Goksel, spokesman of the UN Interim Force In Lebanon (UNIFIL) says that the border district "could boil over at any minute." (The Christian Science Monitor)
The Security Council endorses a recommendation by Secretary General Kofi Annan to reduce the UN force in south Lebanon from 3,700 to 2,000 troops by the end of 2002. Mr. Annan believes the Lebanese government could do more to reassert its own authority over areas vacated by Israel 20 months ago. (Agence France Presse)
Lebanon appeals to the UN to keep the 23-year-old peacekeeping force at full strength but Secretary General Kofi Annan is expected to reduce the UN force in the region. (Reuters)
According to Staffan de Mistura, the UN Representative in South Lebanon, the UN-delineated Blue Line and the Shaaba Farms have been the focus of confrontations between Hizbullah and the Israeli Army. While some of these skirmishes have caught the public's attention in the past year, "others remain dormant but have the potential to cause problems in the future." (Beirut Daily Star)
A new report from Secretary General Kofi Annan recommends extending the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon for another six months, but calls for a 20 percent cut back in the number of UN peacekeepers along the Israeli-Lebanese border. (Voa News)
UNIFIL needs reconfiguration, says the report of the Secretary General to the Security Council. Decreasing the mission's size will make it more mobile and effective. (IPS)
The Security Council endorsed the French draft-resolution extending the UNIFIL mandate. Calling for the end of violence, the resolution reduces the number of troops and encourages the return of Lebanese effective authority up to the blue line. (Associated Press)
Stefan de Mistura steps into a complicated situation. The UN, Israel, Lebanon and Syria disagree over whether Israel's pullout from Lebanon is indeed complete, with Syria and Lebanon claiming that the Shebaa Farms should be part of the withdrawal. (United Press International)
A Western diplomat reports that UNIFIL may soon be downgraded to a much smaller observers-only force, and the Dutch ambassador to the Security Council confirms that UNIFIL's size will be reduced, not enlarged, in future. (Agence France Presse)
After consultations about Kofi Annan's report on UNIFIL's progress, the Security Council has released a statement asking Lebanon to "assume its full international responsibilities" by occupying south Lebanon. The Council also called for an end to Israeli and Lebanese border violations. (BBC)
A report on the previous three months of the UN mission describes the situation in UNIFIL's area of responsibility as "relatively calm," and says that the Lebanese government has made "tangible progress" in reclaiming the formerly occupied zone. (UN News)
A 1,000-member force will deploy on Wednesday after the Lebanese government was informed by UN peacekeepers that the first phase of deployment inside the liberated border zone was completed. UNIFIL has deployed in 17 new positions along the UN drawn withdrawal Blue Line and will deploy in 11 more positions in the next few days.(Deutsche Presse-Agentur)
After prolonged delays, the UNIFIL peacekeepers are finally deployed on the blue line between Lebanon and Israel. Earlier, the pro-Lebanon Hizbollah guerillas blocked entry of the peacekeepers. (Reuters)
The quarrel between Lebanon and Israel is taken to the International Court of Justice. Lebanon prepares to demand compensation from Israel for the loss of former Lebanese territory. (Reuters)
As UN experts rectify last-minute border violations, UN peacekeepers and Lebanese army and security units eagerly await deployment in south Lebanon. (Agence France Presse)
The UN demarcation line between Lebanon and Israel has split the small town of Ghajar into two. Syria urges the UN to reunify the divided town and place it under UN authority. (Reuters)
The "procrastination" of Lebanon and the UN in filling the power vacuum left in south Lebanon is a concern for Israel, reports the Jerusalem Post. Yet Israel believes that Lebanon, with support from the UN, is responsible for maintaining a peaceful border. (Jerusalem Post)
Clear the way for the blue helmets! Confirming the cessation of border violations, the UN Secretary General gave a green light to the deployment of UNIFIL peacekeepers on the demarcation line between Lebanon and Israel. (United Press International)
Irritated at Lebanon's accusations of Israeli border violations, the Israeli Deputy Defense Minister said Lebanon should stop making excuses and fulfill their side of responsibility. (Agence France Presse)
The UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is a rare gem. The "charity and goodwill" of the UN mission is "winning hearts and minds" of Lebanese for improving their daily lives. (Christian Science Monitor)
For the first time, the pro-Lebanon Hezbollah leader expressed that the guerilla group will respect the cease-fire. Hezbollah is virtually the de facto authority in south Lebanon. (Associated Press)
The UN confirmed six of the seven alleged Israeli infractions into Lebanon territory. The UN Security Council is eager to correct these problems as Beirut rejects the redeployment of UN peacekeepers as long as Lebanon is suspicious of breaches of the border. (Reuters)
After meeting with the chief of Hezbollah, the pro-Lebanon guerrilla group, the UN Secretary General ordered a probe into the alleged Israeli violations of the border. Lebanon, the Hezbollah chief argued, will not tolerate intrusions into "any inch of Lebanese territories." (United Press International )
The UN Secretary General faced a chilly reception in Beirut due to Lebanon's disagreement with the UN Security Council's confirmation of Israel's withdrawal. Lebanese officials made it clear to Mr. Annan that entry of UN peacekeepers would be blocked until there is agreement that Israel has completely withdrawn. (Reuters)
As Lebanon made accusations of Israeli intrusions and the UN drawing a "fictitious" border, a heated debate ensued in the UN Security Council as to whether to endorse the UN Secretary General's certification of Israel withdrawal. (New York Times)
Disagreements over the status of the Shebaa farms territory could potentially derail the peace process after Israel's withdrawal. After meeting with the UN envoy, Syria denied endorsing Israel's call for the disputed land, while Lebanon accused UN cartographers as being in favor of Israel. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur)
In order to verify the withdrawal of the Israeli troops, the UN needs to mark the international border in south Lebanon. Without official records of the border however, Israel, Syria and Lebanon disagrees where the border should be drawn. (Agence France Presse )
The Jerusalem Post
reports that although UN peacekeepers aim to restore the Lebanese government's authority over the south Lebanon territory, Lebanese President Lahoud expresses distrust towards the UN, which stems from his disagreement with the mandate of Resolution 425
After disregarding the UNSC Resolution 425 of 1978 that called for Israel's withdrawal from south Lebanon, the Israelis are now anxiously waiting for the Security Council to draw out the specifics of withdrawal and to authorize swift deployment of UN peacekeepers. (New York Times)
A comprehensive analysis of the border war between Israel and Lebanon. The Israeli government announced to withdraw its troops from south Lebanon to the UN 1947 partition line in July 2000. Questions remain about how this move will contribute to the consolidation of peace in the Middle East. ( Le Monde Diplomatique)
Although they have indicated they intend to pull out by July, the Israeli army is not ceasing its tit-for-tat shelling across the border even if only to rain on the Arabs' parade. (Associated Press)
Further calls for the UN Security Council to meet and discuss the appropriation of Arnoun and dash US attempts to confine the issue to the five-nation body. (Beirut Daily Star)
Amnesty International reports of a shelling of a UN compound as revenge attacks take their toll on the local population.