Monday, August 21, 2006

Resolution 1701, progress so far

Sometimes it's nice to be wrong. Lebanes troops have entered South Lebanon, Israeli forces are letting UNIFIL take over their position. This ceasefire could conceivably work.

On the other hand...

UNIFIL is supposed to be beefed up to 15,000 troops, but the world community isn't exactly being generous. France in particular has been far less forthcoming than it initially promised, sending a mere 200 army engineers, and apparently wants to pass off as much responsibilty as possible to other EU nations (that's my interpretation of their request for a European Union meeting over the issue, anyway).

Meanwhile, a raid by Israeli special forces has Kofi Annan saying that he is 'deeply concerned about a violation by the Israeli side' of the ceasefire in southern Lebanon.

Sidenote: of all the articles I found in Google news, this one was the only one that put "violation" in inverted commas in their headline. Interesting the way media bias works.

Also missing from most of the news reports on Google is why Israel did what it did. Here is why:
Israel defended Saturday's operation, saying it was aimed at preventing the transfer of weapons from Iran and Syria to Hezbollah, an action barred by the resolution.

Israel won't accept "a cease-fire in which Hezbollah can use that cease-fire just as a timeout to regroup and rearm and prepare for the next round," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev.

"Israel would not have to do these sort of operations if the international forces and the Lebanese forces were following through on their commitment ... preventing these arms shipments for Hezbollah."

In Washington, a White House spokeswoman said the Bush administration took "note" of Israel's statement.

"We note that the prevention of the resupply of weapons to Hezbollah by Iran and Syria is a key provision of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701," said Jeannie Mamo. "And the incident underscores the importance of quickly deploying the enhanced UNIFIL."

This is correct with regard to what Resolution 1701 says: there is to be "no sales or supply of arms and related materiel to Lebanon except as authorized by its Government". The trouble of course is that the word of the "Zionist aggressor" counts for very little in the region, so the claim of illegal arms transfers to Hezbollah will most likely be viewed by Israel's neighbours as nothing more than a pretext to try and continue hostilities.

Even accepting Israel at its word (and I do so until proven that I should not do so), that leaves the matter of enforcement. Who decides what to do in the case of a violation of a UN Resolution? The Israeli government believes that it has the right to enforce Resolution 1701 as it sees fit, apparently. The Secretary General has made it clear that he disagrees, and I tend to agree with his disagreement: legitimate power to decide upon appropriate enforcement of a UN Resolution resides with the UN Security Council.

Of course, "legitimate power" is not the same thing as "effective power", which explains why Israel did what it did: they don't trust the Security Council to be able to effectively enforce the Resolution which is supposed to make Israel safe from Hezbollah, so they executed an illegitimate, but effective, response of their own. From a realist perspective, perfectly sensible. From a liberal internationalist perspective, a horrible thing to do, especially when they claim that their illegitimate action was legitimised by a UN Resolution: it brings back memories of George W Bush insisting that he had to ignore the UN in order to enforce the will of the UN on Iraq as laid out in Resolution 1441.

What's it mean from a reality-based perspective? Well, I guess we'll see.

No comments: