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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Feigele still doesn't get it

In the middle of an article about how European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana has decided to visit Damascus despite Israeli foreign minister Tzippi Feigele Livni calling for diplomatically isolating Syria last Monday, this interesting little tidbit popped up:
During her comments to the EU foreign ministers, Livni revealed that "representatives of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards remain active in Lebanon, working in close cooperation with Hizbullah forces."

She also said that while "there is evidence that Hizbullah's freedom of action has been restricted" in south Lebanon, "UNIFIL forces have not always adequately utilized the robust mandate and authority granted to them to ensure, in conjunction with the LAF [Lebanese Army], that the south is free of armed groups, assets and weapons and is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind‚ as stipulated in [Security Council] Resolution 1701."

Livni's comments came as Israeli officials have said that UNIFIL would like a more aggressive mandate that would allow it to act more independently in engaging Hizbullah.

Livni told the EU foreign ministers there was an absence of any significant steps to disarm and dismantle Hizbullah, as required by the UN Security Council resolution, and that this was compounded by "the failure to effectively implement the arms embargo" against the organization.

"Recent months have seen intensive efforts at rearmament by Hizbullah, particularly across the Syria-Lebanon border, with weapons supplied by Damascus and Teheran in direct violation of Resolution 1701," she said.
Seven months after the UN Security Council Resolution 1701, Feigele still has no clue what it says. The problem with 1701 from the get go has been that it is not self-executing with respect to disarming Hezbullah. As Barry Rubin noted back in August:
But the central contradiction in the document is between OP11 and OP12. OP11 basically makes UNIFIL action dependent on the Lebanese government asking for help. In other words, only if the government asks UNIFIL to fight against terrorists in southern Lebanon or interdict arms smuggling can it act.

It should be noted that the Lebanese armed forces are a polite fiction. Just as Hizbullah is part of the government coalition, it has also deeply infiltrated the army. Half or even more of the soldiers sympathize with Hizbullah and will not do anything to - as they think of it - "protect" Israel from attack. It is not a highly disciplined military with a reliable chain of command. If a Lebanese soldier fires at Hizbullah, the entire army could split into two warring factions, something the government and politicians will want to avoid at any cost.

Yet OP12 says UNIFIL can take "all necessary action" in its area of deployment to fulfill its mission. This could be interpreted, for example, to mean that the UNIFIL units will attack terrorists south of the Litani without being explicitly asked to do so by the Lebanese government. Everything depends on who will command UNIFIL and what its rules of engagement are going to be. Will it honestly report violations or just look the other way? Will it only do what the Lebanese government expressly asks or take action to prevent cross-border attacks?

A lot will also depend on what strategy Hizbullah adapts and what Damascus and Teheran urge it to do. There is no chance of Hizbullah being destroyed, disarmed or moderated. But it can choose how high a profile it will have.
For those who have forgotten what 1701 really says, you can go here to remind yourselves.


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