Tuesday, August 22, 2006
the cease-fire agreement between the state of Israel and the non-state actor "Party of Allah" (also known as the "state within a non-state") is looking shaky, despite the uncharacteristic unanimity at the Security Council which brought it into being. The proposed need for 15,000 international peace-keepers, to augment an equal number of Lebanese troops now moving south of the Litani River, appears a long way from being met. France, as one of the prime movers pushing the UNSC resolution, expects to take command of the international force in Lebanon; at the same time it causes much international mirth with demands for safety guarantees for its soldiers, of which it has pledged 200.
Israel is right to be highly cautious of anything organised by the UN, one of the most anti-Israel organisations on the planet. The Party of Allah, according to the agreed cease-fire, is supposed to not receive resupply of arms in their customary fashion (from patron Iran through Syria), or indeed by any other route. So who will stop such activity? The international "force" will not use force, and will not do anything to disarm Allah's Party. The Lebanese military seems equally unwilling to act against Nasrallah's forces, so when weapons resupply resumed through Syria, what did anyone expect to happen? Israel put a stop to it, and well they should. Hands up anyone who was surprised when Mr. Annan criticised Israel (and only Israel) for "breaking the cease-fire."
If this agreement is not to dissolve completely in the next few days, quite a bit more force committment is going to be needed quickly. That is, forces that can join a "force" which will not actually use any force against Allah's Party forces. The European nations, with plenty to say about "disproportion" a few weeks ago, are now disproportionately quiet about making troop commitments. France wants to be the chief, while bringing along very few braves. Europe jams out. Step forward, Indonesia and Malaysia.
A slight hitch here too, as neither country even recognises Israel's existence. Yet the purpose is to occupy southern Lebanon, help support the Lebanese military in taking back sovereignty over that part of the country (for the first time in decades), and preventing the entrenched terrorist forces from continuing to attack the neighbouring country. Israel is understandably leery about having thousands of troops, ostensibly non-partisan peace-keepers, coming from two countries which apparently consider her their own enemy.
Which country would tolerate that? After expressing some concerns about this bizarre arrangement, Malaysia responded that Israel simply doesn't get a say in the composition of the peace-keeping farce. Now Indonesia has made a similar rebuke. Foreign Ministry spokesman Desra Percaya (whose family name actually means "believe" - good moniker for a diplomat):
"UN involvement through UNIFIL is to redress as corrective action the situation which has been caused by Israeli military aggression," he said.Imagine this: when a diplomat from a prospective "non-partisan peace-keeping force" contributor nation talks like that, trust goes right out the window. Indonesia has permitted open and very public recruitment by jihadist groups for terrorism volunteers to carry out attacks against Israeli interests around the world, and then downplayed the issue as something not important enough for concern.
"The concern by the Israelis or even their refusal for Indonesia to go is unimaginable," he added.
If Indonesia and Malaysia expect to play a role in Middle East peace-keeping, their recognition of Israel's right to exist should be a fundamental precondition. Otherwise I just don't know what they're thinking, unless some in those countries were actually hoping to rush over there for a chance to fight Israel.
And again, back to the grand international arbiter of peace, which it has now been revealed, provided the access to high-tech military equipment for the Party of Allah, in its war against the Jews. British made night vision equipment, for which export is highly controlled, was sent for UN drug control program use in Iran. Somehow, the stuff wound up with Hizb Allah in Lebanon. Gee, I wonder how that happened?
Gaius, at Blue Crab Boulevard, thinks this marks a crossed boundary for the UN, from a long standing passive support for Israel's enemies, to active support for them. That may sound shocking to some, but it sounds about right in this instance. I don't know how else such a situation could be honestly read. Restricted equipment goes to a UN program, and somehow finds its way to Iran's terrorist proxy in Lebanon. Gaius is right too, in noting that the UK bears some responsibility for not exerting tight enough control over the export. The Brits apparently trusted the UN a little too far. In an ideal world, an ideal United Nations would be trustworthy on something like this.
It's too bad it's not an ideal world, and we have to work with the UN we've got, not the one we wish we had. The British (and the rest of us too) should take a lesson here. It's not only rogue states that may pass certain technologies to terrorist groups in this new world. I smell a brand new UN scandal over this one.
This is one more reason why John Bolton is needed at that council table, and it's really past time to finally get him confirmed to the post.