AU.N. mega­phone for ter­ror­ists

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Olmert’s ill­con­sid­ered de­ci­sion to leave much of the heavy lift­ing on Hezbol­lah’s dis­ar­ma­ment to the United Na­tions and a scle­rotic Le­banese gov­ern­ment is look­ing worse all the time. It is clear that the Le­banese army lacks the abil­ity and in­cli­na­tion to dis­arm Hezbol­lah — and may even be sub­or­di­nate to it. Mean­while, France, which is sup­posed to lead the ex­panded in­ter­na­tional peace­keep­ing force, re­fuses to com­mit more than 200 new troops and Ger­many has de­clined to send any sol­diers to Le­banon. Thus far, some of the ma­jor com­mit­ments of forces come from Mus­lim coun­tries like Malaysia, In­done­sia and Bangladesh. (In the case of Malaysia, the for­eign min­is­ter sug­gested ear­lier this month that Mus­lim coun­tries pro­vide arms to Hezbol­lah.)

Nei­ther the United Na­tions nor the Le­banese gov­ern­ment has shown much de­ter­mi­na­tion to ful­fill one of the main pro­vi­sions of Se­cu­rity Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tion 1701, the cease-fire res­o­lu­tion ap­proved ear­lier this month: an arms em­bargo against Hezbol­lah. But while the United Na­tions proves use­less in pre­vent­ing Hezbol­lah’s rearm­ing, Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Kofi An­nan con­tin­ues to do what the United Na­tions has al­ways done con­sis­tently: con­demn Is­rael for de­fend­ing it­self against ter­ror­ists.

Un­der Res­o­lu­tion 1701, the Le­banese army and in­ter­na­tional forces are sup­posed to be sta­tioned at the Le­banonSyria border to en­sure there are no vi­o­la­tions of the arms em­bargo and stop il­licit weapons trans­fers to Hezbol­lah. But thus far there has been no real de­ploy­ment of forces to the border area. That’s why Is­rael, upon learn­ing about a spe­cific shipment of weapons that had been smug­gled by Iran and Syria into Le­banon for Hezbol­lah’s use, launched a com­mando raid on Aug. 18 against a ter­ror­ist strong­hold in the Bekaa Val­ley. Mr. An­nan de­nounced the raid as a vi­o­la­tion of the Le­banon truce. But his state­ment is false: Is­rael took ac­tion to de­fend it­self and en­force the truce be­cause nei­ther the United Na­tions nor a weak, in­ef­fec­tual Le­banese gov­ern­ment has demon­strated any abil­ity to act against Hezbol­lah.

In fact, since the cease-fire took ef­fect on Aug. 14, both the Beirut gov­ern­ment and the United Na­tions seem to have been go­ing out of their way to demon­strate that they have ab­so­lutely no in­ten­tion of in­ter­fer­ing with Hezbol­lah’s ef­forts to rearm and men­ace Is­rael. Some re­ports quoted Le­banese Prime Min­is­ter Fuad Sin­iora and Hezbol­lah leader Sheikh Has­san Nas­ral­lah as hav­ing agreed that Hezbol­lah could keep its weapons so long as they were con­cealed. Is­rael protested this as a vi­o­la­tion of Res­o­lu­tion 1701, which re­quires Hezbol­lah’s re­moval from the border area. Mr. An­nan told an Is­raeli television sta­tion that “dis­man­tling Hezbol­lah is not the di­rect man­date of the U.N., which could only help Le­banon do the job.”

But Le­banese De­fense Min­is­ter Elias Murr, an ally of Syria, con­tra­dicted Mr. An­nan: The [Le­banese army] is not go­ing to the south to strip Hezbol­lah of weapons and do the work that Is­rael did not.” On Aug. 16, Le­banese Pres­i­dent Emile La­houd, an­other Syr­ian ally, em­pha­sized that Hezbol­lah will not be dis­armed — even in the area south of the Li­tani River near the border with Is­rael. Sheikh Nas­ral­lah was quoted as say­ing that Hezbol­lah mem­bers could re­build their bunkers and fill them with rock­ets in prepa­ra­tion for the next round of hos­til­i­ties.

On Satur­day, the Bri­tish Guardian news­pa­per quoted a re­tired Le­banese gen­eral as stat­ing that Hezbol­lah and the Le­banese army “co­op­er­ate on se­cu­rity is­sues,” and sug­gest­ing that if Le­banese sol­diers find Hezbol­lah guns, they re­turn them to the own­ers. Other cur­rent and for­mer Le­banese of­fi­cials, in­clud­ing Le­banese army Chief of Staff Gen. Michel Suleiman, were also quoted as prais­ing Hezbol­lah and stat­ing that it was the duty of the mil­i­tary to pro­tect it. One an­a­lyst told the Guardian that the Le­banese army be­haved as a ju­nior part­ner to Hezbol­lah’s mil­i­tary ap­pa­ra­tus. “All intelligence gath­ered by the army is put at the dis­posal of Hizbol­lah, but Hizbol­lah does not of­fer the same trans­parency to the army,” he said. “In a sense, mil­i­tary intelligence in the south is op­er­at­ing on Hezbol­lah’s be­half.”

In short, it is delu­sional to think that ei­ther the United Na­tions or the Le­banese mil­i­tary will con­trib­ute much of any­thing to the dis­ar­ma­ment of Hezbol­lah. For the time be­ing, the sides will re­turn to the old pat­tern: ter­ror­ist provo­ca­tions, half­hearted Is­raeli re­tal­ia­tory strikes and U.N. con­dem­na­tions of Is­rael. That could change if Iran de­cides to act on Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ah­madine­jad’s apoca­lyp­tic calls for Is­rael’s de­struc­tion.

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