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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

UN paper on international force engagement rules disclosed

Al-AP reports this morning that it has obtained a copy of the proposed engagement rules for the 'international force' to be deployed in Lebanon.

The draft was circulated to potential troop providing countries over the weekend, as the UN tries to get another 3500 troops on the ground in Lebanon to join the 2000 already there. Many countries have been hesitant about committing troops, ostensibly due to uncertainty over the rules of engagement.
While remaining "predominantly defensive in nature," the draft rules allow for the use of "deadly force" and offensive action, if necessary, to ensure implementation of the August 11 UN resolution that led to the fragile cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hizbullah.

Although there is no authorization in the Security Council mandate or the rules of engagement to disarm Hizbullah, the rules are sufficiently robust to put the UN potentially in conflict with armed groups violating the cease-fire or the arms embargo - including Hizbullah.

The rules would also give the UN commander on the ground wide-ranging authority to react.

The UN force is also authorized to help the Lebanese army establish a buffer zone in the south and secure its borders to prevent arms smuggling.

The draft rules of engagement would allow "use of force, up to and including deadly force, while assisting the government of Lebanon, at its request to secure its borders and other points of entry to prevent the entry into Lebanon, without its consent, of foreign forces, arms or related material." [The operative words there are "at its request." Can you see a Lebanese government that includes Hezbullah asking an 'international force' to help keep weapons out of Hezbullah's hands? CiJ]

The rules would also authorize lethal force to "protect civilians under imminent threat of violence, when competent local authorities are unavailable or unable to render immediate assistance." Force could also be used "to ensure the security and freedom of movement of UN personnel and humanitarian workers." [I wonder if the 'civilians' here include Israeli civilians under imminent threat of being hit by Katyushas. Not that I expect the UN to do anything for us. CiJ]
I think that most of these countries are just plain scared of Hezbullah doing what it did in 1983, when it killed hundreds of American and French 'peacekeepers' with suicide bombers.


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