Not settled yet

THOUGH a bit of an understatement considering the confusing on-ground situation, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan’s assertion that many issues "remained unsettled" in Lebanon and were becoming "serious irritants on both sides" gives the right feel of things.

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Published: Wed 30 Aug 2006, 8:29 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 4:59 PM

Both Israel and Hezbollah have widely respected the ceasefire following UN Resolution 1701, but the international community that brokered the peace is growing increasingly concerned about its ability to hold.

This is the scheme of things so far. Hezbollah is OK with the peacekeeping force that is being hectically put together to patrol southern Lebanon, but only as long as there is no talk of disarming the militia. Israel wants the UN troops to take their positions as soon as possible, but will not settle for anything less than complete Hezbollah-disarmament.

The force itself, Unifil, says its mandate is helping the Lebanese army to deploy as required by the Security Council resolution, not disarming Hezbollah. If that was not confusing enough, the deployment involves policing the coasts and the Syrian border, which could lead to ‘friction’ with Syria.

The complex mix of conditions is worrying the UN with good reason, especially considering the agitation within the Israeli polity. Prime Minister Olmert is drawing criticism for ordering a limited probe into the war, falling short of the independent state commission of inquiry that is widely demanded.

Since the leadership in Tel Aviv was embarrassed by the war’s outcome, it may well be on the lookout to re-establish its superiority. Therefore, while the effectiveness of the UN force will be seen in the coming days, the situation in and around Lebanon, and the hasty measures to contain it, are cause for an uneasy feeling that not all is settled yet.

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