Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Historic - indeed!

To all of those who can not understand how an organisation like Hezbollah gets to hold the power it has in Southern Lebanon, think on this small article for a bit...
Lebanon's proposal to deploy 15,000 troops in the south of the country alongside an international force is historic. The Lebanese people have waited 40 years for such a symbolic gesture from their government, and Beirut hopes this will tip the scales in its favour at the UN.

That's right folks - it is FORTY YEARS since the government of Lebanon took anything more than a casual disregard for events in the south of its own bailiwick.
Lebanon's prime minister Fouad Siniora was near to tears earlier in the week as he spoke to Arab foreign ministers and obtained almost unanimous Arab League support, however Syria remains opposed to the disarming of Hizbollah. The others support the Lebanese troop deployment in the south, even Hizbollah's two ministers within Prime Minister Siniora's government. "Two council members representing Hizbollah agreed to it. For us it is very clear. There is an unanimity in the country about giving the Lebanese army a chance to exercise its duty and responsibility," said Lebanon's UN special envoy Tarek Mitri.

Now, I can understand Syria (Note - NOT Iran) getting just a little twitchy about losing control of Hezbollah, or at least losing contact. What pleases me is that the Hezbollah representatives in the Lebanese parliament favour the deployment of the Lebanese Army.

On the other hand, NYT (as lead, the quote is International Herald Tribune) quotes the action as being seen as "largely symbolic". There is truth in that, given the comparative capabilities of the Lebanese and Israeli armies.
The proposal was widely perceived as a largely symbolic maneuver that would answer a demand by the international community for Lebanon to secure its southern border, which is now controlled by Hezbollah, and Israel dismissed the overture.

Ghazi Aridi, Lebanon's information minister, said the proposed deployment underscores the government commitment to a negotiated cease-fire. "The army is ready and this is not empty speak," said Aridi, who announced the measure Monday after a late-night Cabinet meeting

Should the international community accept Lebanon's word, and intentions, at face value?

I would love to say "YES" with heartfelt enthusiasm. I can not. I have that uneasy, tense feeling in my gut as the names Sabra and Shatila resound in my mind.

I wait. I wait. Please, Lebanon, prove my fears are ill-founded.

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