July 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 June 2006
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MIDDLE EAST

Lebanon (UNIFIL)

Expected Council Action
On 31 July, the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) will expire. The Council will receive the report of the Secretary-General around 20 July and is expected to adopt a routine resolution extending the mandate of UNIFIL by an additional six months.

Options
Although UNIFIL has now been in place for 28 years, and there is pressure to downsize or withdraw long-standing operations, it seems highly unlikely that any option other than a standard rollover will be considered due to the situation in the Middle East.

Council Dynamics
Ongoing incidents along the UN-demarcated Blue Line between Lebanon and Israel seem likely to reinforce consensus among Council members on the utility of the role of UNIFIL. Few, if any, Council members seem inclined to raise political issues in discussions on UNIFIL’s mandate.

Similarly, it seems unlikely that the Council will take up the substance of the cross-border issues regularly raised by Lebanon and Israel.

Key Issues
The Secretary-General’s report will likely raise the following issues.

  • Cross-border incidents between armed Lebanese elements and the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) have not stopped.
  • The UNIFIL Force Commander in January proposed the creation of a joint planning cell composed of UNIFIL and members of the Lebanese armed forces. This proposal was aimed at drawing up a plan for the extension of Lebanese authority in the UNIFIL area of operation, including the deployment of the Lebanese Army in the south.

In his January report, the Secretary-General recommended the creation of this cell. The Council in resolution 1655  urged the Lebanese government to take up this proposal. One issue for the Council may be the progress made towards the establishment of the cell.  (Given the ongoing Lebanese National Dialogue, including Hezbollah, Lebanese officials may be cautious about proceeding too quickly.)

A possible third issue is Hezbollah’s reinforced presence and visibility in the south, and the fact that it sometimes limits the work of UNIFIL through denial of access.

Another issue is the status of implementation of resolution 1680, which strongly encourages Syria to respond positively to the Lebanese request to delineate their common border, especially in the Sheb’a Farms area. This would have an impact on the activities of UNIFIL since an official recognition of the farms as being part of Lebanon would require a reshaping of the Blue Line and of the area that UNIFIL covers. The UNIFIL mandate and possibly the troop level would also have to be adjusted.

For key facts and historical background, please see our January 2006 Forecast Report.

UN Documents

 Last Security Council Resolution
  • S/RES/1655 (31 January 2006) extended the UNIFIL mandate to 31 July 2006 and urged Lebanon to take up the proposal to create a Joint Planning Cell.
 Secretary-General’s Reports
  • S/2006/26 (18 January 2006) was the latest report.
 Selected Letters
  • S/2006/363 (6 June 2006) letter from Lebanon detailing Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty during May 2006
  • S/2006/346 (1 June 2006) letter from Lebanon referring to the 26 and 28 May incidents
  • S/2006/348 (30 May 2006) letter from Israel expressing dismay at the terrorist attack perpetrated against Israel by Hezbollah on 28 May and holding the Lebanese government responsible, as well as the governments of Syria and Iran for supporting Hezbollah
  • S/2006/277 (4 May 2006) letter from Lebanon detailing Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty during April 2006
  • S/2006/245 (18 April 2006) letter from the Secretary-General to the President of the Council referring to the withdrawal of the Ukrainian unit within UNIFIL and its replacement by a Chinese contingent.
  • S/2006/214 (4 April 2006) letter from Lebanon detailing Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty during March 2006
  • S/2006/138 (6 March 2006) letter from Lebanon detailing Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty during February 2006
  • S/2006/81 (7 February 2006) letter from Lebanon detailing Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty during January 2006
  • S/2006/76 (3 February 2006) letter from Israel referring to the 1 February terrorist attack against Israel
  • S/2006/74 (3 February 2006) letter from Lebanon referring to the 1 February incident

Other Relevant Facts

 Secretary-General’s Personal Representative to Lebanon
 Geir O. Pedersen (Norway)
 UNIFIL Force Commander
 Major-General Alain Pellegrini (France)
 Size and Composition of Mission
  • Authorised strength as of 30 April 2006: 1,991 troops, assisted by some 50 military observers of UNTSO; and supported by 95 international civilian personnel and 295 local civilian staff
  • Troop-contributing countries: China, France, Ghana, India, Ireland, Italy and Poland
 Cost (approved budget)
 1 July 2005 – 30 June 2006: $99.23 million (gross)


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