Creative Destruction

August 15, 2006

UNIFIL Gets Teeth

Filed under: International Politics — Off Colfax @ 3:26 pm

I finally broke down and got my grubby little paws on S/RES/1701. For those of you not fluent in UN nomenclature, this translates as Security Council Resolution 1701. (EDIT: Link changed to non-PDF version. The UN’s site is on crack when it comes to tracking cookies.)

To keep you from getting headaches, I’ve gone through and selected the five main high points of the resolution for you.

1. Calls for a full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hizbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations;

Note the difference here? Hizbollah is faced with a complete stoppage of all operations in southern Lebanon. Israel, however, is only tasked with cessation of offensive operations, which is in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations. Actions taken for defense of the Israeli people, which could be argued as being the entirety of the southern Lebanon campaign, (Note: I do not include the various bombing runs of Beirut as being part of this justification.) are excluded from the restriction.

3. Emphasizes the importance of the extension of the control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory in accordance with the provisions of resolution 1559 (2004) and resolution 1680 (2006), and of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, for it to exercise its full sovereignty, so that there will be no weapons without the consent of the Government of Lebanon and no authority other than that of the Government of Lebanon;

Sounds to me like Hizbollah is already trying to weasel out fo this paragraph. With Hassan Nasrallah saying that now is not the time to talk about disarming his fighters, I’m thinking that he will delay and dissemble Beirut long enough for him to regroup and reequip. Unfortunately for him, the Security Council already thought of this one.

8. Calls for Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution based on the following principles and elements:
– full respect for the Blue Line by both parties;
– security arrangements to prevent the resumption of hostilities, including the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani river of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL as authorized in paragraph 11, deployed in this area;
– full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of 27 July 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese State;
– no foreign forces in Lebanon without the consent of its Government;
– no sales or supply of arms and related materiel to Lebanon except as authorized by its Government;
– provision to the United Nations of all remaining maps of landmines in Lebanon in Israel’s possession;

This is now a major switch away from the status quo of the last twenty years. Lebanon is now, as they should have been for years and years, to be in control of their own territory. After the Cedar Revolution last year, Beirut regained de jure control over this area, having long passively ceded it to Hizbollah (and, by association, their supporters in Syria and Iran). With this, and other associated parts of the resolution, Beirut is to now have de facto control over their own territory. Which means, bluntly, that Hizbollah had better play nice with Beirut or they will find themselves outlawed in what has historically been their area of safe operation.

And now, for the real meat of the resolution: Paragraph 12.

12. Acting in support of a request from the Government of Lebanon to deploy an international force to assist it to exercise its authority throughout the territory, authorizes UNIFIL to take all necessary action in areas of deployment of its forces and as it deems within its capabilities, to ensure that its area of operations is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind, to resist attempts by forceful means to prevent it from discharging its duties under the mandate of the Security Council, and to protect United Nations personnel, facilities, installations and equipment, ensure the security and freedom of movement of United Nations personnel, humanitarian workers and, without prejudice to the responsibility of the Government of Lebanon, to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence;

So those reports of Hizbollah fighters using UNIFIL positions as safe harbors? You know, the one that got a Canadian peacekeeper killed? It isn’t gonna happen again. Major Paeta Derek Hess-von Kruedener can rest easy knowing that no other UNIFIL-stationed soldier will have to die because Hizbollah is hiding in their position and they had no recourse against them in their mandate.
And finally, there seems to be one hell of a stick available here. Particularly one to be used against the Hizbollah backers of Syria and Iran.

15. Decides further that all States shall take the necessary measures to prevent, by their nationals or from their territories or using their flag vessels or aircraft:
(a) The sale or supply to any entity or individual in Lebanon of arms and related materiel of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned, whether or not originating in their territories; and
(b) The provision to any entity or individual in Lebanon of any technical training or assistance related to the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of the items listed in subparagraph (a) above;

So those missle attacks that northern Israel has been suffering from over the last few weeks? Should any new supplies come in, the ones who sent them along their merry way will be under UN sanction for violation of this resolution.

And for those naysayers out there, let me point out that this resolution was the French draft. Not the American draft, which was more ham-handed than what came out of the Big Round Room. It satisfied both the Russians and Chinese, who are much less sympathetic to Israel than the rest of the non-Muslim world, as well as Qatar, which has been increasingly disassociated from terrorism (at least officially) since 9/11.

UNIFIL gets teeth. Lebanon gets support. Hizbollah gets the shaft.

I love it.

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6 Comments »

  1. 1. Calls for a full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hizbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations;

    Note the difference here? Hizbollah is faced with a complete stoppage of all operations in southern Lebanon. Israel, however, is only tasked with cessation of offensive operations, which is in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations. Actions taken for defense of the Israeli people, which could be argued as being the entirety of the southern Lebanon campaign,…

    I don’t pretend to understand the situation in Lebanon at all, but that’s not my reading of the quoted passage.

    Hizbollah is barred from attacks, while Israel is barred from offensive operations. By my understanding of these words, all attacks are offensive operations, but not all offensive operations are attacks. An example of an offensive operation which might not involve attacking would be an attempt to encircle an isolated enemy position.

    Comment by Daran — August 16, 2006 @ 3:21 am | Reply

  2. That’s a rather blunt way of putting it, Daran. But not quite right in a military sense.

    Certainly not all offensive operations are attacks. Strategic positioning of forces, psychological operations, backhand diplomacy, and (to use a schoolyard example) vicious name-calling are all offensive operations.

    Yet contrary to what you believe, not all attacks are offensive operations. Let me put in a thumbnail brief for you, in an almost real-world scenario.

    Organization A has set up a weapon system in order to attack a city in Country B. Country B, suspecting that something may be amiss, sends their air force to patrol the borders with orders to engage and destroy anything that attacks Country B but to take no pre-emptive action. Organization A uses the weapon system to attack a city in Country B, whose aircraft then proceed toward the weapon system in question and send it, and everyone nearby, to Kingdom Come. (Which is, for some reason, a city in Texas, I believe.)

    This would be a purely defensive operation on the part of Country B, known as an attack of retaliation. And, as it is a purely defensive operation, would not be restricted by the wording of paragraph 1.

    A much more offensive version would be an anticipatory strike on the weapon system in question before any attack was made by Organization A. And should Country B already have a history of anticipatory attacks (Read: Osirak nuclear reactor), an attack of this type would easily be construed as being an offensive operation, thus prohibited by paragraph 1.

    Or, to put it in a simpler way, I will cite novellist Terry Pratchett: Telling the judge “This is the guy that did it.” is a lot easier than telling the judge “Well, this guy was going to do it, but we stopped him before he had the chance.” (Paraphrased from the book Guards! Guards!)

    Comment by Off Colfax — August 16, 2006 @ 4:13 am | Reply

  3. I agree, but you have not convinced me that the wording restricts Hizbollah more than it does Israel, since firing back at those firing at you (the first of your two scenarios) does not constitute an attack, as I understand the word. Both Hizbollah and Israel are enjoined from initating a firefight (attacking), neither are enjoined from firing back if the other attacks (defending), but only Israel is enjoined from offensive millitary operation that fall short of an attack.

    I do not think backhand diplomacy or vicious namecalling are the kinds of offensive operations envisaged by the resolution.

    Comment by Daran — August 16, 2006 @ 6:23 am | Reply

  4. Ah, I think I see the difficulty here. Let me illuminate in the Socratic fashion: How often do terrorist organizations commit to defensive actions? How often has a terrorist organization commited an action that was not considered an attack? Can a terrorist organization exist without causing terror?

    Also, the tricky part about UN resolutions, particularly those that come out of the Security Council, is that they are designed to be whole documents. Specific paragraphs can and do create specific situations. Yet, when the document is taken in one big chunk, those specific situations form into a network of interdependent provisions not unlike the weave of a net.

    While the wording of Paragraph 1 may seem to limit Israel at first blush, when it is taken with the remainder of the document, you will notice that this is one of the very few limitations on Israeli actions specified. In fact, the only part of the document that would be considered punitive to Israel would be the directive about the Shebaa Farms area, which will be mostly a decision for the Secretariat. (No, not the horse.)

    Hizbollah, on the other hand, is limited in all but four of the non-bureaucratic (internal housekeeping) paragraphs. No resupply of munitions to their area of operation. No training instructors for their area of operation. No easy access to replacement personnel in their area of operation. No area of secure operation in Lebanon, period.

    In this day and age, a lack of any of the above can sound the death knell for a paramilitary organization. For all the above to be possible, Hizbollah could survive as a political force only.

    That being said, it appears that they have moved swiftly to re-secure some of their political base.

    Comment by Off Colfax — August 16, 2006 @ 10:09 pm | Reply

  5. Here’s a contrary view.

    Comment by Daran — August 17, 2006 @ 6:20 am | Reply

  6. And Here’s another. (Hat-tip: Barry.)

    Comment by Daran — August 17, 2006 @ 6:06 pm | Reply


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