The UN head's concern is understandable, since the operation ruptured a fragile truce in the region. But the position of the UN Security Council as regards Lebanon is totally unclear. The UN can kill all hopes for a lasting peace in the Middle East, especially through its sluggishness and inaction.
It is believed that the UN resolution on Lebanon is the best one possible at present, and its main advantage is a balanced approach. This may be true from the viewpoint of bureaucratic wording. But what about effectiveness? Can it be implemented and bring at least an extended respite to the embattled region? To my mind, it is like a beautiful car without an engine.
It has two main problems concerning the peacekeeping force and the disarmament of Hizbollah, which was included in the previous resolution but never implemented. Worse still, for years the UN calmly watched as neighboring countries supplied thousands of missiles to Hizbollah, laying the groundwork for the latest war.
A truce can turn into a lasting peace only if a neutral and effective peacekeeping force with a proper mandate is deployed in a buffer zone between Israel and Lebanon. However, drawing up the resolution seems to have worn out the UN Security Council, which has no strength left to form the peacekeeping force and dispatch it to Lebanon.
Many countries have raised their voice in support of peace in Lebanon, but few of them want to contribute to peacekeeping there. France, which has been offered leadership of the force, complains that the Security Council has not formulated a clear mandate. This would have been logical, if not for the fact that France co-authored the resolution jointly with the United States.
The countries that are most eager to contribute are Indonesia and Malaysia, two countries with which Israel has no diplomatic relations. Some sources report that they had planned to supply fighters and weapons to Hizbollah.
During his visit to Beirut, Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar protested against taking into account Israel's opinion on ways to form an international stabilization contingent in southern Lebanon.
Kofi Annan heartily thanked Indonesia and Malaysia for their sincere offer. This seems very odd to me. If Indonesia and Malaysia are considered neutral, why not deploy Iranian and Syrian troops in the buffer zone? The Iranian president calls every week for banishing Israel from the face of earth, while the Syrian leader has said he is proud that his country is accused of supporting Hizbollah.
So far, the UN has not formulated the mandate for the peacekeeping force or created a truly neutral contingent that could act as a reliable buffer between Israel and Hizbollah.
The situation with the provision on disarming Hizbollah and stopping foreign arms deliveries to it is even stranger. The UN insists that Israel should immediately lift the marine blockade of Lebanon because it hinders the delivery of international humanitarian aid to Beirut. This is true, but the UN has not sent a single boat with observers into Lebanese territorial waters to at least register the amount of weapons smuggled into Lebanon. As for stopping this channel... Don't make me laugh.
The issue of Hizbollah's disarmament was actually removed from the discussion agenda as soon as the UN resolution stipulating it was adopted. However, the provision is not being taken seriously by anyone, including the Lebanese government, which makes it clear that it will confiscate only such weapons as Hizbollah turns over. Hizbollah will turn over old weapons it has no use for, and the provision will be considered formally implemented.
In the end, it will be a formal effort on everyone's part, since the peacekeepers do not want to clash with Hizbollah.
It deserves praise that the international community has joined hands to reconstruct war-ravaged Lebanon. But reconstruction is proceeding in a strange way, with the number of bricks equaling the number of mines. It looks like both the UN's inaction and badly considered actions are laying the foundation for a new war in the Middle East.
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