Thursday, November 24, 2011

Roth - So tell us again: this is why peacekeepers are sent to the area?

Irish UNIFIL soldiers at target
practice, Kawakba, Southern

Lebanon - August 2001.
Frimet/Arnold Roth
This Ongoing War
23 November '11

Yesterday was Lebanon's 68th independence day ("Lebanon celebrates Independence Day with mixed feelings"). Its media, typically, carries cryptic analyses today referring in round-about fashion to the huge influence exercised by its militant and aggressive Syrian neighbours. But the real elephant in the room is Hizbollah, the armed-to-the-teeth jihadists who have plunged the country into war and to its brink several times in the last five years.

As a reminder of how far from independence the Lebanese actually are, the Daily Star reports this morning from the terrorist-controlled south of the country (the part that borders on Israel):

"A huge explosion shook the Hezbollah stronghold of Siddiqin in south Lebanon overnight, a security source told The Daily Star Wednesday. The source said the cause of the blast, which was heard shortly before midnight, could not be determined due to the heavy security blanket that was thrown by Hezbollah. Attempts by Lebanese security forces to reach the scene so far failed as Hezbollah members created a one-kilometer radius security zone around the explosion site between Siddiqin and Deir Ames, the source added. Local media said the explosion likely took place at a Hezbollah arms cache. A spokesman for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon said UNIFIL heard about the explosion on the news. "We have no information at the moment. We are checking this report," AndreaTenenti told The Daily Star by telephone.

We're sorry for the burden the Lebanese carry. But we're infuriated at the bare-naked passivity of the armed representatives of the UN's "Interim Force" who need their radios and televisions to stay in touch with the deadly events happening under their noses.

Far from preventing hostilities, UNIFIL has played an extremely marginal role over the years in blocking the jihadists from massively arming and planting themselves inside southern Lebanon's towns and using the Lebanese population as a human shield. Notwithstanding, its mission was recently extended by the UN's Security Council to the end of August 2012, in part because

"deployment together with the Lebanese Armed Forces has helped to establish a new strategic environment in southern Lebanon".

For the record, UNIFIL's frequently-updated mission is now said to be to -

monitor the cessation of hostilities; accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the south of Lebanon; and extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons.

On paper, anyway. Of course, no one, least of all the gunmen, the rocketry experts and the theologists of the Islamist army of Hizbollah, takes UNIFIL's figleaf role seriously.

As for the "new strategic environment in southern Lebanon", someone ought to make contact with Hizbollah's people once they get back to their prayer mats after cleaning up what's left of As Siddiqin. They're the only reliable source of what's being done down there, and they're not telling.

Not that they are doing much good or much anything. When a UNIFIL convoy was bombed in southern Lebanon this past summer, this source, quoting Israeli defence sources, said it was a message to the peacekeeping force to scale back its operations against Hizbollah. Seems to us that was one message that was well received.

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