debkafile: Kofi Annan rides roughshod over Israel’s security concerns, leaves wide holes in expanded UNIFIL force
UNIFIL-2, which will deploy in two stages starting early September, “will not be used along Lebanon’s long and porous border with Syria to stop any shipments of arms reaching Hizballah,” the UN secretary admitted Friday night from Brussels.
This confirms debkafile‘s report Friday that Israel has failed to obtain a pledge to enforce the UN embargo on arms for Hizballah’s rearmament from Iran and Syria.
Annan also stated: “Troops are not going in there to disarm – let’s be clear.” Disarming Hizballah, he said, is a subject for “political agreement among the Lebanese -” (a direct contradiction of UN Security Council resolution 1552)
Annan also spoke of “international guarantees” to secure Israel against further attacks. In other words, that is not UNIFIL’s job.
The UN Secretary General will go ahead with raising more international soldiers from Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh, despite their refusal to maintain diplomatic relations with Jerusalem. He said he would take the best peacekeepers “wherever he can find them “- even if Israel does not accept this.
The Muslim contingents will supplement the 6,900 soldiers 12 European governments have pledged. Italy which succeeds France as leader of the force next February deploys the largest unit of 3,000 men, followed by France’s 2000 troops, Spain’s 1,000, Poland’s 500 and 250 from Finland.
French defense minister Alliot-Marie (picture) told the Wall Street Journal that Paris had obtained a very important clarification permitting its troops to use rubber bullets against “anyone standing in their way.”
Foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said the force would mark out “exclusion zones,” in which armed militias would be disarmed, as “the best way to remove Hizballah’s weapons.”
Neither French minister referred to the non-exclusion zones, from which it may be inferred that there, Hizballah fighters would be allowed to bear arms.
The Italian foreign minister, Massimo D’Alema, who can’t wait to plant a European military presence in the Middle East, is even more relaxed about holding Hizballah to UN resolution 1701. After all, he says, Europe does not regard Hizballah as a terrorist organization. He repeated Annan’s statement and declaredItaly would not engage in disarming Hizballah fighters.
Hizballah spokesmen say that the “exclusion zones” issue is under study. debkafile‘s Beirut sources have learned that Iran’s Shiite proxy is considering opposing exclusion zones in Lebanon unless they are extended to northern Israel. This condition would hold up the UNIFIL-2 deployment in Lebanon until such time as Israel withdraws its troops – not only from Lebanon, but also from defensive positions on the Israeli side of the border including Galilee, two weeks after its civilian population endured a 4,000-rocket Hizballah blitz.