Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Resolution 1701

So, does Israel get any credit, in certain parts of the British media, for agreeing to an end to the fighting? Or the US any for its diplomatic efforts?  Or is this a glorious victory for Hezbollah? Well, as they say, what do you think?

According to C4 News, Sunday (13 Aug), Israel was humiliated, their Prime Minister  "exhausted". 

Back in the real world, The New York Times reports:
American secretaries of state attend Security Council sessions on resolutions only after a deal has been struck. Yet last Friday, when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in New York, not only was there no deal, it was unclear whether the Council would even meet. [...] A senior administration official said a crucial moment came when Ms. Rice decided to intervene personally in New York. “Condi sat in her office Thursday night,” he said. “In a very clear moment, she decided to go to New York and just force this through by going there and sitting there until it got done.”
At first, I could only find the text in French: 'Résolution 1701, adoptée à l'unanimité par le Conseil de sécurité des Nations unies le vendredi 11 août.' The UN site did not have it first thing Monday, but it's there now, in English.

As I indicated before, many of the principles behind the resolution on Lebanon that has been adopted were anticipated in the International Crisis Group report.
Crisis Group proposes a ceasefire that would include the following three elements:
  • an immediate cessation of hostilities; rapidly followed by
  • early prisoner exchange; and
  • agreement on the dispatch of a multinational force to augment UNIFIL and verify compliance with the ceasefire.
[...] A multinational force [...] has become a regrettable necessity. But its role and mandate will have to be strictly defined to avoid precipitating chaos:
  • It should be agreed to by all sides, Hizbollah included.140 While for now the movement is adamant it will not accept an international force, officials have left the door open by suggesting they would be open to ideas that emerge from internal dialogue.
  • It must be authorised by the UN Security Council [...] and should as much as possible avoid a U.S. flavour. While NATO forces could possibly participate, they should at a minimum be part of a larger contingent to avoid the impression of a Western crusade.
  • It should have a limited mandate: not, as Israel would prefer, to enforce Hizbollah’s disarmament, but rather to verify and monitor both sides’ adherence to the ceasefire while ensuring creation in the south of a weapons-free zone.
  • It should from the outset interact with the Lebanese army.
There is of course a strong argument that this might not suffice to prevent a resumption of hostilities since it would leave Hizbollah’s power largely intact. But anything more at this point would risk unduly prolonging negotiation and, worse, risk destabilising Lebanon’s fragile inter-confessional balance. [p24]

[Note 140] As an Arab diplomat with years of experience in Lebanon put it, “a force will be possible only if all Lebanese parties agree. The government’s agreement is not enough. You need Hizbollah’s agreement – and, implicitly, Syria’s”. Crisis Group interview, 24 July 2006 [My emphasis]
Looking to the longer term:
Hizbollah’s armed status is part of a far larger puzzle that at the very least needs to be taken into account. It is related to Lebanon’s confessional structure and, principally, to the treatment of its Shiite community and long overdue political reform. To undermine Hizbollah’s standing without at the same time addressing Shiite grievances would, again, run the risk of renewed sectarian conflict. In this sense, Resolution 1559, in its insistence on disarmament and international backing in that regard, implicitly threatened the country’s delicate sectarian balance since it meant a significant weakening of the Shiites’ principal representative. The goal, in other words, should not be solely to weaken Hizbollah (or Syria, or Iran), but through an internal Lebanese dialogue, to seriously reform the political system as a whole.
Hizbollah’s fate also is related to Lebanon’s own security doctrine and how its army intends to credibly ensure its defence, as well as to still-open Israeli-Lebanese files: prisoners and the Shebaa farms, as well as the question of respect for Lebanon’s sovereignty. Tackling these problems would be an important way to promote Hizbollah’s political transformation, by removing justifications it invokes for continued resistance and increasing internal political pressure for its disarmament. The goal must be to dry up the sources of Hizbollah’s militant identity gradually. [p25]
Maybe. The report also says, 'In parallel, there should be international commitment to a massive reconstruction effort in Lebanon and, above all, to significantly alleviate the country’s public debt.' As well as the obvious motives, there is a political imperative to this: international assistance should be channelled through the Lebanese government. Hezbollah is seeking to gain more prestige in this area.

Referring to warnings in an earlier report, from December 2005:
Crisis Group recommended a two-track approach: bolstering the central government by assisting in long-overdue political and economic reform, while putting on hold more ambitious agendas such as disarming Hizbollah through implementation of Resolution 1559 or seeking to isolate and destabilise the Syrian regime. That road was not taken. Instead, precious little was done to strengthen the Siniora government or deconfessionalise the political system; much was made – rhetorically at least – of the need to implement 1559’s disarmament provisions...
The link with 1559 was clear; if Hizbollah disarmament was to be put on the table, so too should broader issues concerning the sectarian distribution of power and political representation. Crisis Group wrote that the message was: “come after the weapons, and Hizbollah will go after the fragile political balance”.
A few points from the earlier report:
[Note 151] Shiites are estimated at nearly 30 per cent of the population but have only 21 percent of parliament seats. [Others put the proportion of Shi'a in the population higher.]
[Note 152]  “Arms restore the balance between Lebanon’s three major sects. Historically the Shiites were not empowered by an army, and the result was that their rights were universally trampled over by others”, Crisis Group interview with Ali Fayyadh, [Beirut, 27 October 2005]

The electoral system has sheltered Amal and Hizbollah from genuine competition with independent Shiites in the South. Proportional representation instead of the first-past-the post system might allow new voices to be heard from the Shiite community. [p23]


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