Monday, August 21, 2006

Lebanon today...

Despite what is being said in the right-whinge blogspots that I tiptoe my way through, the "Israeli attack/Israeli enforcement" action over the past 36 hours is not really where the action is, or should be.

Of the news sources that I have read this morning, the following are closer to the important events -

The Strategy Page
Greece said it was considering a request to provide soldiers for the new UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon.

Turkey is also considering joining the force. Turkish sources said that Turkey could send as many as 5000 troops to southern Lebanon. The big question for Turkey is the ROE (rules of engagement) of the UN force. Turkey is not interested in provoking a wider war in the Middle East.

However, the Turkish military does not look favorably on conditions which expose its troops to hostile fire and restricts their ability to respond. The Turks' interpretation of the UN's ROE in south Lebanon may be a useful indicator of just how robust that ROE truly is. Turkey is also regarded as an ally of Israel. The US would like to see Turkey participate in the UN-led peacekeeping force.

The International Herald Tribune -
Under the proposed rules of engagement, the troops may use force to prevent the area from being used for hostile activities and to resist efforts to prevent the peacekeepers from carrying out duties under Security Council resolutions. Commanders may take all necessary and appropriate action in self-defense, including pre-emptive self-defense in cases where there is adequate evidence that hostile units are committed to an immediate attack.

"We keep telling the member states: Read the concept of operations," said one UN official. "Read the rules of engagement. We have come a long way from the days of Unprofor in Bosnia," the official said, referring to the UN forces deployed in the Balkans.
U.S. officials have said they will support the mission, but that no American ground combat forces will be offered. A senior Pentagon planner said that since America is a staunch ally of Israel, the presence of U.S. ground troops in Lebanon could serve as a magnet for Hezbollah attacks, undermining the mission.

Major General William Nash, who retired from active duty after service that included commanding U.S. Army forces in Bosnia in 1995 and 1996, warned that the new mission risks being taken hostage: physically taken hostage by Hezbollah, and made a political hostage by Israel.

"We know what they're not going to do, but what will they do?" said Nash, now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

"They're not going to disarm Hezbollah. But are they going to stop Israel from reattacking Hezbollah? If the Israeli government decides there is an imminent threat, and attacks with F-16s, what is the mandate for the UN? What does the UN do?"

Major General Nash has that right. If past precedent holds good there would be little to do except duck!

We have seen the first instance already - the attack in the Bekaa Valley, and as yet there has been no direct evidence to support the Israeli reason for the attack - "to disrupt the shipment of arms to Hezbollah". If that were the case, why did Israel not bomb Beirut airport again?

Oh, sorry, they had the assassination of a leading member of Hezbollah as their objective?

What is next, bringing peace and democracy to Lebanon?

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