Thursday, August 31, 2006

UNIFIL 2 - We Need You: Part II

This is the second part of a two (maybe three) part series on the deployment of the UNIFIL 2 force to Lebanon.

In this post, I put issues relating to Hizballah and their disarmament aside, and seek to highlight the risks the deployment of this international force will bring to Lebanon and to the force itself.
This last point [refer to previous post] also highlights the extensive risks that will be faced by the UNIFIL 2 forces, and the importance of pursuing to the end the body of UN investigations on the string of assassinations - and attempted assassinations - that have gripped the country for the past 2 years.

The widely anticipated conclusions of the central investigation, that surrounding the assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri, are expected to point the finger at the Syrian regime and its allies in Lebanon. Many analysts have pointed to this investigation, and its impending conclusion, as the primary catalyst to the Syrians’ acquiescence to (if not outright ordering of) Hizballah's most recent operation. In that respect, the Syrians can be expected to instigate wider disruptions to the stability of Lebanon and to the continuation of the investigation in order to derive a gain leverage with respect to the investigation and its final report. The presence of international troops on Lebanese soil could provide them with surest way to obtain that leverage. In that case, what the Syrians would be looking for would be a way of forcing the international community, or more specifically the broader western contingent of the incoming UN force, to be in need of the regime’s services. By instigating untraceable attacks – easily attributed to Al-Qaeda or other fundamentalist groups – the Syrians would in effect be creating a situation in which they could provide for the security of the international troops, or even of the Lebanese state as a whole in the worst case scenario, through a quick and well-greased re-infiltration of the Lebanese internal intelligence and security bodies.

This would in effect be a replay of the events encountered throughout Lebanon’s recent past in which untraceable explosions ripped through the cities and towns of the country creating sectarian fears and suspicions, in which Syrian supported Palestinian factions infiltrated the country, and in which a destabilized and dangerous internal situation prompted the international community to consent to an enforced Syrian occupation.

Our hope now is that the Lebanese government can successfully downgrade the threat to the UNIFIL 2 troops and thus eliminate a relatively easy and untraceable way to creating instability, while at the same time, we hope that this armed body will be robust enough to aid the Lebanese Army in its enforcement of the government’s will over the entirety of Lebanon’s territory.

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