Posted by: sean | August 25, 2006

More French and Italian peacekeepers

France has agreed to send 2,000 peacekeepers to Southern Lebanon, and Italy is expected to confirm its offer of 3,000 troops. France was waiting for clarifications on the force’s mandate, chain of command (which will be military and not civilian), and “freedom of movement and capacity for action.”

It is still unclear exactly to what extent UN troops will be excpected to disarm Hizbollah and to what extent the latter will cooperate with the force. It seems clear to me that the only way to successfully disarm Hizbollah is politically and diplomatically, dealing with its grievances, such as the Shebaa Farms currently occupied by Israel and Lebanese prisoners being held in Israeli jails. The IDF’s recent attacks have shown how difficult it is to disarm Hizbollah, and if French and Italian troops try to engage Hizbollah militarily with the aim of disarming them, they will certainly find themselves in a repeat of the 1980s when French and American troops were attacked and then withdrew from Lebanon.

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Responses

  1. People who I talk to from Lebanon are not optimistic about this cease-fire.

    Ultimately everything is a political question, particularly the Palestine situation.

  2. I don’t think anyone is optimistic about the UN ceasefire. No one expects the UN military presence to be a kind of magic pill. However, while it may be right that Hizbullah can only be disarmed politically and diplomatically, the underlying question is: should there be direct negotiations with Hizbullah in the first place? I don’t get the impression that they will listen to anyone; they are, after all, a resistance movement.

    Of course, we all intuitively understand that the heart of the matter is the Palestine situation. However, making such a statement is a bit gratuitous at this point. In the Middle East, there has been so much backtracking and dissapointment that any talk of “peaceful solutions” in the political process seem ritualistic and pointless.

    -KM


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