Friday, July 21, 2006

Manipulated, yet again!!

July 19 2006

THE UN is said to propose deployment of Lebanese army soldiers and enlargement of an international force in southern Lebanon as the way to end the Israeli-Hizbollah fighting. Obviously, the idea represents the world body's effort to shift itself away from the real responsibility it faces in the crises — that is working towards a real solution to the root conflict of the crises in the region today.
Indeed, the idea is simple as simple could be. Under all normal circumstances, the authorised security forces of a country should indeed be in charge of the country's borders. Therefore suggesting that the Lebanese military should be in charge of Lebanon's borders is very much within the international norms.
But then, we know that international norms are selectively applied, particularly in the Middle East, with the UN being often turned into an unwitting pawn in the hands of big powers. And that is what we are witnessing today. That the situation in Lebanon has no comparison anywhere makes it all the more imperative that any proposal to address the crisis there should include a well-thoughtout strategy to pre-empt similar crises.
Whoever has thought of the idea of sending the Lebanese army to take charge of the country's borders should realise that it would only inflame the situaiton instead of calming it.
In political terms, critics are bound to describe the plan as the US way to have Lebanese soldiers protect Israeli borders and prevent cross-border attacks by Hizbollah. In simple terms, if the proposal is accepted and implemented, the Lebanese army would be actually replacing the now-defunct South Lebanon Army (SLA), which acted as a shield for Israel in southern Lebanon.
At this point in time, it cannot be denied that there is some form of co-ordination and understanding between Hizbollah and the Lebanese army. It is this relationship that is being targeted by the UN proposal (or whoever thought of it and cooked it). The moment the Lebanese army is deployed as a buffer between Hizbollah positions and the Israeli border, it would be branded as a traitor to the Arab cause. The army would become the target of attacks by Hizbollah, which has undertaken the self-assumed task of turning the situation into a make-or-break point in Arab resistance against Israel.
The UN is also suggesting that the existing UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) be expanded and given an expanded mandate — meaning authority to open fire as UNIFIL commanders deem fit and as situations warrant. Well, that is also a non-starter since there are many limitations on a UN peacekeeping force when it comes to military action. UNIFIL's history is particularly sad. A look at the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon and what followed in the more than two decades since then would clearly indicate the ineffectiveness of UN peacekeepers in situations of actual armed conflict.
It is not difficult to envisage the situation on the Lebanese-Israeli border if the UN proposal is adopted (and indeed if Hizbollah agrees to accept and abide by it). The Lebanese army would be in frontline positions on the border, followed by the UN force whose task would be to prevent Hizbollah fighters from reaching the frontline positions.
Of course, there could be many different scenarios on the ground, but there is little doubt that the UN is being manipulated, yet again.
The very fact that the mighty Security Council discussed the crisis in Lebanon for three days without issuing a statement speaks volumes of the politics at play in the corridors of the UN. Does it take any deliberation to call for an immediate end to military action that is targeting civilians on either side? Or is it that a UN Security Council for an immediate ceasefire does not suit Israeli interests?
No one could be blamed for assuming that the big powers want to give Israel enough time to achieve its goal of destroying Hizbollah by wreaking havoc in Lebanon, killing people at will and demolishing infrastructure to the point — as Israel hopes —  that Lebanese would start denouncing the Shiite group and distance themselves away from it.
We don't know what kind of support the reported UN proposal for Lebanon has in the Security Council or when it could come up for serious discussions and perhaps even adoption by the big powers. Indeed, it might not be adopted at all. However, what we do know is that the timing of debate on the proposal — or the absence of debate in itself — would be made suitable to give Israel enough leeway to accomplish whatever it seeks to accomplish in Lebanon. It is a different matter whether the realities on the ground in Lebanon would help Israel along the way.