16 August 2006

Is 1701 going down the drain?

I have already mentioned the accumulated concerns regarding the Lebanese "as we go" modifications of the letter and the spirit of the UNSC resolution 1701. It looks like Hezbollah is having the upper hand in everything related to the implementation of the resolution. Egged on by their Syrian and Iranian paymasters, Hezbollah is refusing to disarm and to leave the south Lebanon area that is supposed to be controlled by the UNIFIL and the Lebanese army.

Lebanese bloggers express the same concern, especially in view of the provocative speech by baby Assad, who directly threatens the weak government of Lebanon lest they try to harm a hair on the Hezbollah's hairy body.

DEBKAfile produced the most pessimistic outlook so far, in the two articles.

The Hizballah are moving back into their still undamaged bunkers and fortified civilian dwellings opposite the Israeli border. Therefore, while thousands of displaced people in Israel and Lebanon head back to their ravaged homes, DEBKAfile's military sources report trepidation about the durability of the ceasefire which Israel declared Monday morning. Everyone is talking about the inevitability of a second round.

Lebanese government concession allows Hizballah to stay armed in the south,provided weapons are hidden. This under-the-table deal violates two clauses of 1701 which require Hizballah to be removed and disarmed. DEBKAfile adds: Hizballah also agrees to let the Lebanese army and UN force be deployed in the south as "our guests."

It shouldn't take a genius to see that Hezbollah is doing whatever they want, UN or no UN. Of course, nobody expects the largely ineffectual bureaucracy to really weigh in at a situation like this. At least, they are making all the right noises, according to the interview Haaretz had with the head of UNIFIL.

In an interview with Haaretz, Major General Alain Pellegrini urged the Lebanese authorities to take responsibility for the disarmament of Hezbollah in the area close to the Lebanon-Israel border, saying that the responsibility for such a move lies primarily with them. When asked his soldiers would engage an armed Hezbollah activist, Pellegrini said that it was hard for him to answer.

Ah well, we could have provided the answer for Pellegrini, couldn't we?

Even knowing that the dire predictions of DEBKA should be taken with a grain of salt, the situation looks grim enough to warrant a more muscular response from all the parties involved. Unless somebody wants to see a bloody sequel to the last month and a half.

In the light of the above, the seeming complacency of the Israeli government and military is totally incomprehensible. Halutz, our CoS, has already set the timeline for IDF withdrawal from south Lebanon - about 10 days from now. The Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, is discussing with Koffi Annan the ways to return the kidnapped soldiers, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser (remember, the ones whose abduction triggered the whole war). Olmert is busy with victory speeches for external consumption and preparations for the internecine battles.

Does somebody mind the shop?

Cross-posted on Yourish.com