Monday, August 28, 2006

Fight off the snister game

August 25, 2006

Fight off the sinister game

THE hint from Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee that New Delhi is considering recalling its 775-strong unit serving in the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is the latest slap to the US-Israeli designs in the region. Beyond that, a withdrawal of the troops would also be a political move, given that the UN peace-keepers in Lebanon would be, at a point sooner than later, engaging in a war on behalf of Israel and the US.
Granted that UN Security Council Resolution 1701 does not call for UNIFIL to disarm Hizbollah. That task is left to the Lebanese army. However, the US administration is trying to push through another Security Council resolution which would "authorise" the UN force to adopt an aggressive posture and allow it to open fire in the course of "duty."
The US is also trying to expand the mandate of the UN force so that it could be deployed along the Lebanese-Syrian border. It is also a political landmine for the countries contributing soldiers to the UN force. Syria has vowed to resist the move, and, given the build-up of events in the Middle East, the situation could turn highly explosive along the lines that the US and Israel want it to be.
India enjoys a reputation of neutrality in the international scene and its participation in the UN peace-keeping operations has always been highly welcomed. There are indeed suggestions that it might not have acted wisely in the Sri Lankan crisis in the early 90s, but then the peculiarity of Indian-Sri Lankan relations was linked to those assertions.
India's willingness to contribute troops to UN peace-keeping forces was always seen as the country living up to international expectations, responsibilities and obligations. In the case of Lebanon, the task would eventually deviate from these principles. The US and Israel are trying to use the international community, including countries which have an excellent record of living up to their international responsibilities dictated by their role in the world comity of nations, to fight the US-Israeli war against Arab and Muslim resistance and thus involve them in a broader and sinister game of subduing the Middle East. This would include the UN peacekeepers being manoeuvred into a position where they would be forced to take armed action against Hizbollah and Palestinian armed groups in Lebanon in the name of upholding international legitimacy, namely implementation of UN Resolution 1559 and subsequent moves that call for disarming all non-government military forces present in Lebanon.
The Israeli objection against the participation of Muslim countries like Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia in the expanded UN force stems from its realisation that Muslim soldiers would not be ready to wage a war on Arab and Muslim forces on behalf of the Jewish state. Of course, Israel has no real say in the matter, but it would definitely have its way, given the US support it enjoys.
Some of the European countries have realised the US-Israeli game and they are also balking at sending soldiers as peacekeepers to Lebanon because they know that the troops would not be keeping peace but fighting to serve Israeli and US interests.
India should indeed be drawing its conclusion from the situation that it would be putting on the firing line the international respect it commands and the close friendship it has with the Arab and Muslim world if it allows itself to be used as a pawn by any country.
However, it is not simply enough for India to consider quitting UNIFIL. New Delhi should exert all efforts to pre-empt the UN from being exploited in order to help serve any country's drive for global supremacy and regional hegemony, and that would indeed be befitting the country which is indeed a global powerhouse in Asia.