Saturday, August 05, 2006

UN approves draft for Lebanon ceasefire

After a great deal of back and forth diplospeak, chiefly between France, representing the EU and the US, a draft of a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire in Lebanon is ready to be voted on next week. This represents a compromise, but one mostly on the USA and Israel's terms. The US originally wasn't interested in a ceasefire at all without a long term settlement that included disarming Hezbollah and France, Russia's Putin and the EU wanted an unconditional ceasefire..a good indication of how badly Hezbollah has been hurt.

Implementing it,of course will be a very different story.

The draft language calls for a truce, asks the current United Nations UNFIL peacekeeping force to monitor the border area.

Hmmm.... wasn't that what they were supposed to be doing all this time? Musta missed something.

The text called for “immediate cessation of all attacks by Hezbollah,” and of "offensive military operations" by Israel.

Aside from general language in the preamble that which "emphasizes" the need to release unconditionally the abducted Israeli soldiers and language that "encourages the efforts aimed at settling the issue of the Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel." it doesn't include anything specific about a prisoner exchange or require Israel to immediately withdraw its troops from Lebanon, something the Israelis no doubt insisted on to keep Hezbollah from simply returning to its positions after their rocket arsenal and heavy arms are replenished by Iran.

Lebanon was not happy about this at all, though you would think they would be desperate to end the war...but I guess pleasing Hezbollah comes first.

Nouhad Mahmoud, a Lebanese Foreign Ministry official appearing before the Council, said, "It (the resolution) lacks a call for the withdrawal of Israeli forces who are now in Lebanon, and that’s a recipe for more confrontation."

He's probably right. Hebollah has already said they will not honor a ceasefire as long as Israeli troops are in Lebanon..which is why the language about 'offensive military operations' is important. If Hezbollah attacks Israeli forces or Israeli civilians, the IDF can then take defensive measures...including defensive attacks on Hezbolah positions.

The draft resolution sets up a second resolution and asks Israel and Lebanon to agree in the future to a set of principles on long-term peace, including an arms embargo on arms shipments to Lebanon, the disarmament of Hezbollah, and the creation of a buffer zone up to the Litani River.

For passage, a resolution needs the support of at least 9 of the Council’s 15 members and can not be vetoed by any of the five permanent members: Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States.

Essentially, this sets up a two stage process; If this passes, French and other troops will depart for Lebanon to beef up UNFIL and attempt to enfoirce the ceasefire.

After Israel and Lebanon agree to the principles mentioned in the draft language, the Security Council in a second resolution will authorize a new `stabilization' force for Lebanon to help the Lebanese government take control of things and continue to monitor the ceasefire.

This is one risky enterprise.

Among those risks, aside from the fact that a second resolution might not be adopted is that Hezbollah could use any ceasefire to resupply...I think that we can pretty safely assume that Iran won't obey the arms embargo part of things. That could prompt the Israelis to bomb or seize supply routes, provoking counterstrikes by Hezbollah and putting everything back to where it is today.

But at least the UN can say it actually tried to do something to earn its keep for a change.

No comments: