Peacekeeping in Lebanon: a necessary but insufficient risk (ARI)

Peacekeeping in Lebanon: a necessary but insufficient risk (ARI)

Theme: The deployment in Lebanon of a large multinational force under United Nations authority to maintain the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah has led to a significant European military involvement in the dangerous Middle Eastern scenario. This mission raises many questions about how it will be implemented, the risks to be faced and the consequences it can have on the stabilisation of one of the world’s most conflict-ridden regions.

Summary: On 12 July 2006, a group of HezbollahAnchor[1] militiamen infiltrated Israeli territory,Anchor[2] captured two Israeli soldiers and killed two others.Anchor[3] Israel’s reaction led to a battle which, in thirty-three days, caused the deaths of 1,140 Lebanese civilians (of whom nearly a third were children under thirteen years of age) and wounded more than 4,000. More than 900,000 people were displaced and 15,000 homes were destroyed, as well as a large part of the country’s infrastructure. The cost of repairing this damage is estimated at between US$7-10 billion.Anchor[4] In Israel, 63 civilians died and 1,256 were injured; the damage has been estimated at between US$1.6-3.0 billion. Hezbollah lost between 100 and 150 fighters, while the Lebanese military and security forces had over 100 deaths. There were 119 deaths among the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF).Anchor[5] International pressure to stop the conflict, combined with the realisation that there would be no quick military solution, managed to overcome the initial resistance of Israel and the US to the imposition of a ceasefire. After arduous negotiations, the United Nations Security Council finally passed Resolution 1701,Anchor[6] which calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities. To guarantee the resolution would be respected, the Security Council increased the number of UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon)Anchor[7] troops to 15,000 and gave them a broader mandate. After much hesitation, especially regarding the concept of the operation, the chain of command and the rules of engagement, at least 10 European Union (EU)Anchor[8] countries, plus Norway, TurkeyAnchor[9] and four Asian countriesAnchor[10] have offered to participate in different degrees in the multinational force.Anchor[11] European countries will play an important role, providing more than half the troops and taking charge of the operational command.Anchor[12]


The Post-War Situation

Resolution 1701 has brought about a cessation of hostilities in Lebanon but not, technically, a cease-fire, since the warring parties have not signed any agreement, but have simply accepted the United Nations resolution. The situation is far from stable, since the cessation of hostilities will be only provisional until a permanent agreement between the parties can be reached and it could therefore break at any time. The newly reinforced UNIFIL and the commitment of its participating countries is aimed at preventing such a break from happening until a peace agreement is reached –something that will require a huge political and diplomatic effort–.

With its disproportionate response to Hezbollah’s aggression, Israel has only managed to temporarily weaken the operational and logistic capacity of the armed Shiite movement. Far from setting off an internal chain reaction against Hezbollah in Lebanon, the civilian’s deaths and destroyed homes and infrastructure have significantly increased its support even among non-Shiite groups, making a separate peace with Lebanon appear even more distant.Anchor[13] The only good news for Israel is the deployment of the Lebanese army in the south for the first time since 1978,Anchor[14] and the fact that UNIFIL has been considerably strengthened by the size of the participation of several European countries. At least temporarily, this should keep Hezbollah out of the areas from where it could attack Israel, although isolated attacks cannot be ruled out. But Hezbollah continues to be active and the arms embargo will be very difficult to enforce, at least while Iran maintains its extremely hostile attitude towards Israel. The relative failure of the operation in Lebanon –which was unable to halt Hezbollah’s continual attacks on Israeli soil during the entire campaign– has sparked an internal political crisis in Israel and even a certain amount of friction between the Government and the IDF, which only increases instability in the region. The Israeli population is beginning to sense that there are no final military solutions to deal with its enemies and Israel’s image has once again suffered in terms of international opinion. Nonetheless, for now the government is maintaining its policy line and has declared that it will continue to respond to aggression despite the deployment of the multinational force.

Hezbollah has emerged from this battle clearly stronger politically. It is now seen, both inside Lebanon and throughout the Muslim world, as the only force capable of standing up to the Israeli army. It has suffered casualties and lost military equipment, but all that can be replaced. It will withdraw to the Bekaa valley or melt into the population in southern Lebanon until circumstances or pressure from its main backer, Iran, push it to carry out new armed attacks on Israel. In the meantime, it will try to take the greatest political advantage of its relative success during the conflict.

Though Lebanon was not responsible for the aggression against Israel, the country has once again suffered significant destruction that will take a long time to repair, even with international aid.Anchor[15] The Lebanese Government knows that to try to disarm Hezbollah by force would only lead to a civil war as bitter and useless as the one that devastated the country between 1975 and 1990, and it clearly feels powerless to deal with the situation on its own. Syria, for its part, has benefited from the conflict: it is now clear that since Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon the situation has not improved there; and furthermore, an eventual withdrawal of Syrian support for Hezbollah now appears to have become a considerably more valuable playing card for its interests. Finally, Iran may be the biggest winner, since its backing of Hezbollah has given it another weapon in its hard negotiations with western countries on the development of the Iranian nuclear programme.

Therefore, the pieces remain on the chessboard more or less in the same places they were on 12 July. What Resolution 1701 and the ensuing deployment of the beefed-up multinational force have set out to do –and accomplished so far– is to put a freeze on the conflict until a longer-term solution can be found.

The United Nations Mandate

Resolution 1701 is the fruit of a compromise between those who wanted to protect Israel against attacks by Hezbollah, those who wanted to protect Lebanon from attacks by Israel and those who simply wanted to halt a conflict that was taking a huge toll in human lives and in the destruction of buildings and infrastructure. Like all things born of a difficult consensus, this resolution contains ambiguities and grey areas that are interpreted in very different ways depending on the desires and interests of each party.

The key points of the resolution are an immediate end to hostilities and the gradual withdrawal of the IDF from Lebanese territory as the Lebanese army and the reinforced UNIFIL deploy in a buffer zone between the Litani river and the so-called blue line,Anchor[16] so that the only authority remaining in the zone is the Lebanese Government and the only arms there are those that the Government allows. There are also explicit references to measures that could lead to a long-term solution, such as freeing the kidnapped Israeli soldiers and the Lebanese prisoners held in Israel, and delimiting Lebanon’s international borders. This last point includes the Shebaa Farms dispute,Anchor[17] and the United Nations Secretary General has been asked to make specific recommendations on this.

The mission of the multinational force consists of monitoring the cessation of hostilities, accompanying the deployment of the Lebanese army in the south, coordinating this with the Governments of Lebanon and Israel, supporting humanitarian assistance to the Lebanese people and the return of displaced persons, helping the Lebanese armed forces establish the buffer zone (in which the only armed personnel permitted would belong to the Lebanese army and UNIFIL) and helping the Lebanese Government (if it so requests) to secure its borders and other entry points to prevent the entry into Lebanon of unauthorised weapons or military equipment.

The resolution extends the UNIFIL mandate to 31 August 2007 and announces another future resolution to broaden the mandate. However, this is a controversial issue, because Israel could pressure the US to once again demand that Hezbollah be disarmed –one of the stickiest issues in the discussions leading to Resolution 1701, since for Israel and the US, disarming Hezbollah was an essential condition for a peace agreement–. For their part, European countries could not and did not want to take the responsibility of directly confronting the armed movement, which enjoys total support among the Shiite population, who are in the majority in southern Lebanon. Doing so would have meant, in practice, involving themselves in a new war on Lebanese soil –and being seen in the Muslim world as clearly aligning themselves with Israel– without even having any guarantee of putting an end to the problem, much less of achieving a lasting peace. The option of helping the Lebanese Government disarm Hezbollah was not much different, since the Lebanese army neither wants to confront the group nor is capable of doing so, among other reasons because the army itself is largely made up of Shiites.

Resolution 1701, which mentions Hezbollah only in its preamble as the party that commenced the hostilities, deals in several points with the issue of disarming the militias,Anchor[18] although it makes no recommendations. It requests that the Lebanese Government should exercise its authority throughout the country and apply the Taif Accords,Anchor[19] as well as Security Council resolutions 1559 and 1680, which demand that all armed groups be disarmed, but it does not indicate either how or when this will happen. Rather, it urges the Secretary General to present proposals in cooperation with the parties involved and the key international actors. Excluding the disarmament of the Shiite militia from the new UNIFIL mandate is not only realistic; it also provides the mission with a neutrality without which the participation of European countries would have been very difficult.

The resolution is more precise regarding the embargo on arms that are not for the use of the Lebanese armed forces or the UNIFIL, obviously to prevent Hezbollah from re-arming. The embargo is mentioned four times in the resolution’s provisions.Anchor[20] The Lebanese government is urged to put it into practice, UNIFIL to help the government do this, and all the nations involved to take the necessary steps to prevent any violations of the resolution. UNIFIL’s help in this matter is a delicate issue, because the main way weapons reach Hezbollah is across Lebanon’s border with Syria, and the Syrians have made it clear they will consider the deployment of a multinational force on their border to be a hostile act. However, UNIFIL could provide technical advice to the Lebanese forces, in addition to maintaining a strong naval presence to monitor territorial waters.

The UNIFIL mandate is included in the framework of chapter VI of the Charter of the United Nations, meaning that its action is not coercive in nature and that if the warring parties return to widespread hostilities, such an outcome cannot be prevented. The rules of engagement authorise the use of force to protect UNIFIL itself, its equipment and its installations, as well as humanitarian workers and civilians in immediate physical danger. The multinational force will have to see to it that the buffer zone is not used for hostile activities of any kind and that if in the course of this work it is attacked, it will respond with force.

Clearly, Resolution 1701 gives the new UNIFIL a peace-keeping mission that should not lead it into combat, except in the cases mentioned above. And despite certain ambiguities, it gives an accurate enough definition of its mission and the work to be carried out.

The Capacities of the UNIFIL Force

It is possible that in the end the limit of 15,000 UNIFIL personnel set by Resolution 1701 will not be entirely met, in particular if Israel opposes the participation of any Islamic country. It is also possible that less than 15,000 Lebanese soldiers will be deployed in the south. Nevertheless, the joint deployment of over 20,000 soldiers in a zone little more than 1,000 kilometres in surface area, with good, modern materiel and equipment (in the case of the Europeans anyway) and heavy naval support, should be more than enough to carry out the mission under the conditions stated in the resolution; that is, as long as the warring parties generally respect the buffer zone.

A bigger problem appears to be establishing the chain of command. The decision to reinforce UNIFIL instead of creating a new multinational force, as some nations proposed, is a result of the urgent nature of the deployment, which would have been hampered by discussions on a new structure. The decision also arose from the lack of consensus on whether a regional organisation such NATO or the EU would take command of the force. As a result, UNIFIL will continue to be responsible to the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York. Many European governments and, above all, many military personnel have been suspicious of this relationship since the disastrous experience of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in the former Yugoslavia (UNPROFOR) between 1992 and 1995, caused mainly by slow and inefficient United Nations decision-making mechanisms. To overcome this suspicion, the Secretary General has guaranteed the European countries participating in the operation that they are free to take command decisions on the ground if faced with unexpected situations (within the limits of the operation). This should greatly increase their chances of success.

The UNIFIL Experience

To evaluate the scenarios and the risks that the new multinational force will face, we must first consider the turbulent history of its predecessor. UNIFIL first deployed in Lebanon in 1978 to implement resolutions 425 and 426, which set out to end the first Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon. Its mandate included confirming the withdrawal of Israeli forces, re-establishing international peace and security, and helping the Lebanese Government to reassert its authority in the region. In June 1982, the IDF ignored UNIFIL and invaded Lebanon, advancing as far as Beirut. For three years, until the Israelis began their withdrawal (which was not completed until 2000), UNIFIL remained behind Israeli army lines. Despite repeated violations of the border by Hezbollah and by Israel,Anchor[21] the UNIFIL mandate was extended for six-year periods until 31 July 2006. On that date –UNIFIL having once again proved its incapacity to prevent the conflict, which was taking an increasingly dramatic turn– Resolution 1697 extended the UN body’s mandate yet again, this time until 31 August, to give time for Resolution 1701 to pass. During these 28 years, UNIFIL’s make-up has changed many times, reaching over 6,000 personnel in 2000. On 31 July 2006 it consisted of 50 observers from the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO)Anchor[22], 400 civilian employees and 1,989 military personnel provided by eight countries.Anchor[23] Throughout its presence in southern Lebanon, UNIFIL has suffered a total of 258 casualties,Anchor[24] of which four occurred in the recently heightened conflict.

The Risks

Resolution 1701 has not yet been fully implemented and not only because deployment of the reinforced UNIFIL is not yet complete and the IDF is still in Lebanese territory. Israel has refused to lift the air and sea blockade of Lebanon until the return of the two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah in the incident that sparked the hostilities. The return of these soldiers is in the preamble to the resolution, but not in its provisions; and it may occur in a short time, although Hezbollah will demand in return that prisoners held in Israel be freed. The blockade is contrary to Resolution 1701 and is clearly incompatible with UNIFIL’s naval presence. The fact that the Israeli Government is maintaining it, despite the UN Secretary General’s requests, gives an idea of how reluctant it is to respect a resolution it feels not to be beneficial to Israeli interests.

As previous UNIFIL experience shows, the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon is highly dangerous. In addition to minefields, to which the multinational force still does not have maps,Anchor[25] it is calculated that there are about 100,000 unexploded grenades in Lebanese territory, mainly in the south, often hidden under vegetation or rubble,Anchor[26] which could lead to serious accidents during movements by the multinational force and in the course of reconstruction activities. Overall, the greatest risk of casualties is if the warring parties do not respect the cessation of hostilities,Anchor[27] with the multinational force stuck in the crossfire, as has happened several times since UNIFIL was first deployed. Less likely is that Hezbollah would directly attack the multinational force, since the group has accepted the deployment. However, in the medium or long term, depending on how the situation evolves, such action cannot be ruled out.

Apart from the physical dangers, there is also the political risk that the mission will fail. If the new UNIFIL cannot prevent a continuation of the conflict, as its predecessor was unable to do in 1982 and in the most recent episode, the prestige of the countries involved in the deployment will suffer seriously, with grave consequences on their influence in the Middle East and even their relations with the Muslim world and Israel –consequences that will take many years to undo–. The EU should immediately begin exerting political and diplomatic pressure on the warring parties and on external actors who have influence in the region to guarantee as much as possible that this does not happen.

The Scenarios

The peacekeeping mission in Lebanon is based on a moral and humanitarian commitment, but its goal is also to lay the cornerstone of peace in the Middle East. How the situation evolves and the success or failure of the operation will determine whether the road taken today will lead to a lasting solution for the future.

The worst possible scenario would be for history to repeat itself, despite UNIFIL’s presence: that is, another large scale confrontation between Hezbollah and Israel that once again leads the IDF to attack Lebanon. In this case, the best option would be to end the operation and immediately withdraw the forces since, as we mentioned earlier, the mission does not include tasks such as stopping a conflict of this kind. In that case, the mission would have failed and we would be back to square one. The likelihood of the EU playing a significant role in pacifying the Middle East would then be minimal and there would likely be two or three decades more of instability and violence in the region.

This scenario is not impossible because it does not depend only the warring parties, but on their allies and protectors. For Hezbollah, the key country is Iran, which at any time is able to use its influence over the Shiite movement as a playing card in its bid to resist the US and Europe by developing its nuclear programme and becoming the gendarme in its area of influence. Negotiations with Iran should include assurances that it will stop backing Hezbollah, since this is an essential factor in achieving security in the Middle East. However, if Iran were attacked –even just to destroy its uranium enrichment stations– it would likely not hesitate to retaliate militarily and politically by launching Hezbollah on another attack against Israel. It is less likely that Syria would try to benefit from the use of Hezbollah in already delicate circumstances. Indeed, Syria has informed the Secretary General of the United Nations that it supports not only the deployment of the multinational force, but even an arms embargo against Hezbollah, and does not seem very eager to raise tensions in the region. Syria would likely even be willing to withdraw its support for the armed Shiite organisation in exchange for the return of the Golan Heights, though it would not go as far as signing a bilateral peace agreement with Israel before the Palestinian issue is solved.

Israel, meanwhile, will respond if attacked. Israeli military strategy is based fundamentally on retaliation, which is supposed to deter its adversaries from striking again, although in practice this has not been precisely the result. Its actions have never been limited by European pressure, nor will they if the country suffers serious damage again. Israel’s delicate domestic political situation, caused by the inefficiency of the recent campaign, would make it practically impossible for the Government to refrain from responding to an attack. The only limit on Israel –and not always– is the pressure that the US is able to exert, among other reasons because it is the country’s main weapons supplier. To the extent that the American superpower is sympathetic to its reaction to an attack, Israel will have a green light to retaliate. Therefore, it is very important for the EU to be in constant contact and in tune with the US on the issue of the Lebanese conflict, so that the peacekeeping mission has some guarantee of success.

The most likely scenario in the short term is that the end to hostilities will remain in force, but that there will be isolated armed attacks of the kind that have taken place from the beginning. In such cases, the multinational force would have to inform the United Nations that Resolution 1701 had been violated and to apply the rules of engagement to protect its personnel and materiel, and to protect the civilian population as much as possible. Nations with troops in the zone, as well as the EU, will have to bring to bear all their political and diplomatic pressure to prevent the repetition of such incidents and to try to gradually put an end to violations of the informal ceasefire. Even if there are no incidents, tension will remain in the zone until the situation becomes clearer as events move towards either the more or the less favourable (outlined above) scenario.

The best-case scenario, obviously, is for Hezbollah to agree to disarm, become a political movement and perhaps even integrate its militias into the Lebanese army. This is not impossible, since the armed Shiite movement would gain more than it would lose in the process. The backing of the Shiite population, which is the largest minority in Lebanon,Anchor[28] and the prestige gained in other sectors of the population during the latest clash with Israel, would give Hezbollah a very important role to play in Lebanese politics. But it is highly improbable that Hezbollah will take this route as long as the Palestinian problem remains unsolved and Iran does not feel sufficiently safe from military aggression.

Therefore, Europe should be attempting to keep the guns silent while immediately helping solve these problems. The conflict between Israel and Hezbollah is just one piece in the Middle East puzzle. If the larger problem is not solved, neither will its parts be solved. Israel’s attempt to continue down the road begun with Jordan and Egypt –that is, reaching a separate peace with Lebanon and with Syria, in order to then focus on Palestine, in hopes that the US and Europe will be able to deal with Iran– does not appear in any way viable. It is increasingly clear that there will be no military solution in Middle East, nor partial arrangements; rather, the solution will have to be political and comprehensive. As long as the Palestinian issue remains unresolved, there will be constant flare-ups that will force Israel to live in a permanent state of war and will force the United States and Europe to invest money, effort and even lives in attempts to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe.

The EU will have to use the political capital gained through its involvement in the Lebanon conflict to give a definitive boost to a peace process that has made many false starts. All the regional and external actors involved –Israel, the Palestinian National Authority, Lebanon, Syria, the EU, the US, the Arab League and even Iran– must sit down to negotiate a global agreement that must necessarily include Israel’s return to its 1967 borders, the recognition of these borders by all Arab states and Iran, and their promise to respect them, as well as the creation of an independent and viable Palestinian state. In the context of this agreement, the EU could commit itself to helping with the economic development of Palestine and other neighbours of Israel in order to prevent future tensions, or even provide military support to secure the borders of the Jewish state against a possible future aggressor.

If this step is not taken, military involvement in Lebanon will be only a temporary action that will serve to postpone unacceptable killing, at least for now, but one that will not achieve definitive results on the difficult road to peace in the Middle East.

Conclusion: The peacekeeping mission in Lebanon arises from a United Nations Security Council mandate that is both sufficiently clear and neutral. Its sole objective is to maintain the end of hostilities in Lebanon and prevent civilian deaths, thereby giving peace a chance and enabling the arrival of humanitarian aid and the return of refugees. It has been accepted by all the parties in the conflict and backed by the European Union, and it is supported by important external actors such as the US and the Arab nations, including Syria and, in a limited way, even Iran. The military force that has been committed appears to be sufficient to carry out the mission as long as the parties involved respect the agreement and if the chain of command has sufficient autonomy to make important decisions on the ground, without the need to wait through complicated decision-making processes at the United Nations.

The countries that have decided to contribute forces to the operation are taking on a major responsibility and proving their interest in the peace process in a region that is important to them because of humanitarian concerns and vital strategic interests. For these reasons, they are accepting obvious risks not only in terms of possible troop casualties, but also at the political level, since the mission could fail if the new UNIFIL is not respected by the parties and is unable to prevent renewed conflict, as was the case with its predecessor. The European Union will have to insist that any violation of Resolution 1701 will be considered a hostile act that will lead to serious consequences, both for the parties directly involved in the conflict and for external actors with interests in the region.

Implementing Resolution 1701 will put an end to the latest outbreak of war in one of the Middle East’s hot spots, at least for now stopping the dramatic loss of life and destruction of property. It will help protect Israel, will end the humanitarian crisis and will recommence the reconstruction of Lebanon. It will also increase the country’s internal stability by helping the government exercise real authority over its entire territory –an essential step toward lasting peace–.

However, the battle in Lebanon is only one piece on the complicated chessboard of the Middle East. Stopping it, though very necessary, will not by itself end the struggle between Hezbollah and Israel, nor much less the general problems in the region, which are rooted in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and, more generally, between Israel and the Arab nations and Iran. Until there is an acceptable global solution for all the parties involved, including the implementation of all relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the creation of an independent and viable Palestinian state, and total respect for Israel’s borders, there will be no peace. Flash points will reappear. The European Union’s involvement in implementing Resolution 1701 should be an asset in working towards a new peace conference in which all the actors involved can finally reach a realistic and viable agreement. Without such an initiative, Europe’s participation in the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon will mean simply having run a necessary risk for moral and political reasons, but one that bears no lasting fruits.

J. Enrique de Ayala

General in the Spanish Army reserve. His latest posting was as second-in-command of the Centre-South Multinational Division in Iraq

Anchor[1] Hizb’Allah, the ‘Party of God’, was created by Lebanese Shiites in 1982, with the help of Iranian revolutionary guards, to confront the Israeli occupation that reached the outskirts of Beirut that year. It is estimated that the organisation could have up to 30,000 militants, 3,000 of whom are armed, with between 600 and 1,000 active members. Its leader is Hassan Nasrallah.

Anchor[2] In the Shetula region, that is, at a great distance from the Shebaa Farms that Hezbollah considers illegally occupied by Israel.

Anchor[3] There were also two wounded. Another five Israeli soldiers died in the subsequent chase.

Anchor[4] Also, when the Israeli air force bombed the Lebanese electric power station at Jiyyeh on 14 and 15 July, this caused 12,000 tonnes of oil to leak into the sea, polluting 140 kilometres of coastline.

Anchor[5] Of course, the figures vary greatly, depending on the source. Here we have used those provided by the Reuters and France Press news agencies, by Israel National News and Lebanese government sources.

Anchor[6] This took effect on 14 August, after being approved by the Lebanese government and the Israeli parliament.

Anchor[7] The abbreviation used in Spanish and French, among other languages, is FINUL. In Spanish, it is also called the Fuerza Provisional de Naciones Unidas en Líbano (FPNUL).

Anchor[8] Ground forces will be provided by: Italy, 2,450; France, 2,000 (including 200 from the old UNIFIL); Spain, 1,100; Poland, 500 (including 250 from the old UNIFIL); Belgium, 400; Finland, 250; and Portugal, 140. Germany, Greece and Denmark will supply naval and air units. Ireland will likely also send a small contingent, but this has yet to be confirmed. The UK will not provide troops but has offered ‘specialised’ support.

Anchor[9]Norway has offered naval units. Turkey could deploy between 600 and 1,200 ground troops.

Anchor[10]Bangladesh has offered 1,500; Indonesia, 1,000; Malaysia, 1,000; and Nepal, 850. Israel is reluctant to accept the first three because they are Muslim countries that have not formally recognised the Jewish state, making their participation uncertain.

Anchor[11] Certain other Arab countries, such as Morocco and Jordan, might also participate, probably with small contingents, although no decision has yet been made.

Anchor[12] The French general Alain Pellegrini, the current UNIFIL commander, will be in command until February 2007. After this, the command will pass on to Italy.

Anchor[13] Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora has declared that a formal peace agreement between Lebanon and Israel is unthinkable until the Palestinian problem has been solved.

Anchor[14] In 2000, after Israeli had completed its withdrawal and contrary to United Nations recommendations, the Lebanese government refused to deploy its army in the south of the country until a peace agreement was signed with Israel.

Anchor[15] At the donors’ conference in Stockholm on 31 August 2006, pledges worth €735 million were made for the reconstruction of Lebanon.

Anchor[16] The blue line was set down by the United Nations in June 2000 to mark the withdrawal of the IDF from the south of Lebanon, which was then being completed; this border between Lebanon and Israel has never been officially recognised.

Anchor[17] The Shebaa Farms is a water-rich area 25 square kilometres in size, where the borders of Lebanon, Syria and Israel meet. It has been occupied by Israel since the war in 1967 as part of the Golan Heights. Lebanon considers this territory its own. The fact that it remains under Israeli authority has served Hezbollah as an excuse to claim that Israel has continued to occupy part of Lebanese territory since the withdrawal in 2000. However, when the area was occupied it belonged to Syria (which has an ambiguous attitude on this issue) and the United Nations did not include it in Resolution 425.

Anchor[18] Paragraphs 3, 8 (2) and 10.

Anchor[19] The Taif Accords were signed in this Saudi Arabian city in October 1989 by representatives of the Lebanese Muslim and Christian communities, to put an end to the civil war. They included the disarming of all Lebanese militias.

Anchor[20] Paragraphs 8 (5), 11 (f), 14 and 15.

Anchor[21] The most important ones occurring in October 2000 and May-June 2005.

Anchor[22] It is the oldest United Nations peacekeeping mission, created in 1948 after the first Arab-Israeli war.

Anchor[23] The most important contingents came from India (673) and Ghana (645). France, Poland, China and Italy also participated, with the symbolic presence of Ukraine and Ireland.

Anchor[24] Two hundred and forty nine troops, two military observers, three international employees and four Lebanese employees.

Anchor[25] Resolution 1701 requires that Israel hand over the maps of the minefields. However, in some cases they are inaccurate or non-existent.

Anchor[26] Since the end of hostilities, this has resulted in 13 deaths and 452 injuries in Lebanon.

Anchor[27] Since Resolution 1701 took effect, there have been at least three minor violations of the end of hostilities (in one of them three Hezbollah militiamen reportedly died) and one major one: on 19 August the IDF launched an airborne attack on Bouday (in the Bekaa Valley) with the stated intention of stopping an arms delivery to Hezbollah.

Anchor[28] There has been no official census in Lebanon since the French compiled one in 1932. At the time, Christians and Muslims each made up approximately 50% of the population. Now there is not much interest in a census, since the result could upset the political balance. However, many Christians left because of the civil war and the conflicts with Israel, and the Muslim birth rate is higher, which has greatly shifted the historical balance. It is now estimated that nearly 70% of Lebanese are Muslims and, of these, between 60% and 70% are Shiites.

José Enrique de Ayala

Written by José Enrique de Ayala