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Monday, December 4, 2006

Unrest in Lebanon / If Siniora falls, so will UNIFIL

Unrest in Lebanon / If Siniora falls, so will UNIFIL
By Amos Harel Haaretz 4 December 2006

It is no coincidence that in Jerusalem there is grave concern regarding
recent developments in Beirut. Not only is the pressure by pro-Hezbollah and
pro-Syrian demonstrators liable to cause the government of Fouad Siniora to
collapse, but it may also spark a new civil war in Lebanon. If Siniora's
government falls, the Sunni leader will be forced to make concessions in
favor of Syria and its allies, and possibly undermine the sole major
achievement of Israel in the second Lebanon war - namely, the arrangements
made along the border.

In response to the criticism of Israel's political and military leadership
for failures during the recent war, the answer of the Olmert government has
been that the reality on the ground will be our judge. In spite of the many
failings, the prime minister did have a convincing argument. At war's end,
Hezbollah was removed from its positions along the border, and an
international peacekeeping force was deployed in southern Lebanon. Israel's
gains could have been made during the first week of fighting, which would
have saved many lives. Nonetheless, the achievements were apparently real.

However, now the stability of Security Council Resolution 1701 is in
question. If Hezbollah determines who will form the next government in
Lebanon, and even if Siniora emerges from this standoff as a weaker prime
minister, the extent of cooperation between the government in Beirut and the
UN peacekeeping force, UNIFIL, will be undermined.

Nearly four months after the cease-fire went into effect, the two abducted
soldiers, for whom Israel went to war, are still not home - and ther e is
not even a sign that they are alive. The smuggling of weapons from Syria to
Hezbollah, according to Military Intelligence, has resumed and is proceeding
at full steam. Southern Lebanon is being rebuilt with Iranian money and the
Hezbollah guerrillas, who do not appear now in public wearing fatigues and
carrying weapons, are moving about uninterrupted.

It is hard to imagine the European troops deployed in southern Lebanon
staying there if Hassan Nasrallah signals that Hezbollah intends to target
them, as it did French and American forces in 1983. All that is missing now
is for Hezbollah to decide to resume holding its positions along the border,
as a challenge to Olmert and Israel.

The recent developments are of less concern to the Winograd Commission,
established by the government to investigate the decisions to go to war and
the six years following the IDF's May 2000 pullout from southern Lebanon.
Yesterday, the committee issued a puzzling announcement, thanking the High
Court justices for their support last week in rejecting the petitions for
the creation of a state commission of inquiry. The body's members expressed
their satisfaction that neither the justices, nor the petitioners,
questioned the honesty, qualifications or independence of the investigating

However, the panel's members would have been less satisfied were they to
know about some of the impressions formed by officers that already appeared
before them. Some of the latter have said that it is clear that the
committee has already determined that Chief of Staff Dan Halutz is its prime

What emerges is the following: The army rushed to recommend war, without
properly preparing itself or having an exit plan. The civilians fell under
the spell of the confidence exhibited by the senior military command, and
therefore the chief of staff will be the first to pay the price, in a
renewed version of the Agranat Report, which followed the Yom Kippur War.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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