September 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 August 2006
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MIDDLE EAST

Lebanon

Expected Council Action
The Security Council will take up the Secretary-General’s proposals, requested in resolution 1701, for implementing the Taif Accords and resolutions 1559 and 1680 concerning the disbanding and disarmament of militias in Lebanon, as well as on the delineation of the Lebanese border, in particular the Sheb’a Farms area.

The Council will also be acutely interested in the wider aspects of implementation of 1701, including the Secretary-General’s observations flowing from paragraph 9 of the resolution, on the “long term solution” as well as the operational progress with the deployment of additional troops for the UN Interim Force in Lebanon II (UNIFIL II).

What is unclear is whether the Council will step into the leadership role in carrying forward the agenda of resolution 1701, or whether it will retreat to the minimalist approach which characterised its response to the crises in Gaza and Lebanon in 2006, and which attracted much criticism.

The Council is also expected to receive and note the fifth report of the UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) which is due on 26 September. Serge Brammertz may brief the Council on the progress of the investigation. Due to the conflict little progress is expected.

Key Recent Developments
The cessation of hostilities took effect in Lebanon on 14 August.

The 33-day war resulted (in Lebanon and Israel) in over 1,150 civilian deaths, more than 4,000 civilians injured and approximately 1.5 million civilians displaced. The Secretary-General, requested by the Council to report on one particular incident (the 30 July bombing in Qana), concluded that there could be a pattern of violations of international law committed during the course of the hostilities.

On 7 August the Lebanese government, in an attempt to stimulate agreement on a ceasefire and Israeli withdrawal, announced a decision to deploy 15,000 troops in south Lebanon to prevent a security vacuum when the Israeli army withdrew behind the Blue Line. Lebanon also requested, as part of a seven-point plan adopted by the Lebanese Council of Ministers, that a counterpart international force be authorised to assist it.

On 11 August, the Council adopted resolution 1701, which:

  • called for an immediate cessation of hostilities followed by the deployment of Lebanese troops;
  • authorised an expanded UNIFIL (rather than a Chapter VII coalition which Israel had preferred) to assist the Lebanese forces and to be deployed in parallel with the progressive Israeli withdrawal;
  • called for Israel and Lebanon to support a long-term political solution;
  • requested the Secretary-General to make proposals within thirty days on disarmament of militias and the delineation of the international borders of Lebanon (and especially in the Sheb’a farms area);
  • established an arms embargo on transfer of arms to any entity or individual in Lebanon other than the government; and
  • authorised UNIFIL, in addition to monitoring the cessation of hostilities and helping ensure humanitarian access and the safe return of displaced people, to support the Lebanese armed forces to deploy in the south, and assist Lebanon with securing the border and establishing in the south an area free of armed personnel and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon; and
  • authorised the use of force to prevent hostile activities and to resist threats to its mandate.

The Secretary-General subsequently revised the UNIFIL rules of engagement providing for more robust powers consistent with the new mandate.

In a report on implementation of resolution 1701 on 18 August, the Secretary-General said that the parties were generally complying with the cessation of hostilities. He also reported that the deployment of the Lebanese armed forces together with UNIFIL and the Israeli withdrawal were underway.

After a hesitant start, EU countries have pledged about 7,000 troops for UNIFIL II. Others, such as Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Nepal and Turkey, may also contribute. Israel has opposed the participation of countries with which it has no diplomatic relations, but it remains to be seen whether this position will prevail. France will keep the leadership of UNIFIL II until the end of February 2007. Then Italy will take over. It may be two to three months before the whole force is deployed. However, the Lebanese army has already deployed south of the Litani River, including in some areas vacated by the Israelis.

At press time, Kofi Annan is visiting the Middle East, undertaking consultations with a view to the proposals that resolution 1701 requires him to make. His itinerary includes Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian Territories and perhaps Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iran.

Options
The Council has two strategic options at this stage.

  • First, it can take a reactive and essentially minimalist approach to its role in carrying forward the broad agenda set out in resolution 1701. This would entail leaving the primary role to major powers (or the Quartet), in conjunction with the Secretary-General, and only becoming engaged at the margins via briefings and the occasional formal action when one or another party sees a need to use the Council as an instrument for exerting pressure. This has essentially been the default setting for the Council for many years in the Middle East context. The only real exception has actually been Lebanon, in 2004/05, where the Council took a proactive policy role on resolutions 1559 and 1595.
  • The second option is for the Council to assume the leadership role envisaged in the Charter, and which it actually plays in many other conflicts on its agenda. The post 1701 environment, with its emphasis on “long term solutions”, is one which may require bringing together threads which go much wider than just the immediate situation in Lebanon. The challenges of this cannot be underestimated both in terms of the substantive issues themselves and the demands it would place on Council processes-especially to ensure that other agenda issues are not crowded out. Nevertheless, the post 1701 environment is also one which may be unique in the recent history of the Middle East situation. Israel seems to be in a position where, for domestic reasons, its government has a vested interest in seeing the UN and the Security Council succeed. The same is true of the Lebanese government. And, given the disillusionment with past mechanisms, it may be much easier for the parties, the neighbouring states and other protagonists as well if the next phases are centred on the UN.

Key Issues
There are many key issues arising from resolution 1701.

  • First, the strategic choice for the Security Council about its future role in developing and leading the process for a “long term solution.”
  • Secondly, whether to approach the “long term solution” on an incremental basis or under a more comprehensive framework. A related issue is whether the latter should include, in addition to provisions on some or all of the issues outlined below, more detailed arrangements on a zone free of weapons and militia in the south, on the release of prisoners, on the respect for the Blue Line, and on confidence building and security arrangements designed to prevent the resumption of hostilities.
  • Thirdly, whether to include concrete steps to follow up paragraph 18 regarding a “comprehensive just and lasting peace,” which brings onto the table also the Golan issue, the occupation of the West Bank and the situation in Gaza. (There seems to be increasing pressure from EU members, as well as others, in this direction).
  • Fourthly, whether to take up Syria’s challenge to close the border with Lebanon (a measure sure to impose huge economic and humanitarian costs on Lebanon) if UNIFIL II assists in monitoring the border to prevent smuggling of weapons contrary to 1701. Already the Syrian position seems to be affecting Lebanon’s readiness to utilise UNIFIL II in this regard. A related question is whether this issue is linked to a requirement on Israel to lift the sea and air blockade. Another related issue, which may come into play as a balancing element, is whether the 1701 embargo should be reinforced via a sanctions committee and a panel of experts, and perhaps with an advisory input from UNIFIL II.
  • Fifthly, whether to address the issue of the Sheb’a farms by a binding decision on the delineation of the border in this area. This would be hard for both Israel and Syria, but hugely helpful for Lebanon in helping it secure implementation of 1559 by political means. Whether this should be achieved as a “one-off early action measure” or as part of a larger framework is also a major issue.
  • Finally, the issue of the disbanding and disarmament of militias is at the heart of implementation of 1559. It seems clear that all parties now accept that transformation of Hezbollah cannot be achieved by force alone. A political process seems to be accepted as essential. The issue is what mix of incentives and disincentives are likely to be effective in that political process and over what period. Many of the above issues seem likely to have a major bearing on that question, as will the role of UNIFIL II in Lebanon, because the force is now mandated to assist the Lebanese in achieving this goal in the area of southern Lebanon.

The Council is unlikely to take up the issues raised by various potential troop contributing countries regarding the mandate and rules of engagement of UNIFIL II. It is unclear whether these issues were real problems or may have been misunderstandings. In any event, they seem to have been largely resolved and it would be unprecedented for the Council to formally take up rules of engagement.

In September the issue of the impact of the war on the Hariri investigation and on the establishment of the tribunal will also appear on the agenda. Clearly there have been impacts in the form of delay to the work of Commissioner Brammertz. Possibly issues relating to loss of evidence will be raised, as well as perhaps impacts on witnesses and their cooperation. The Council will want to ensure that the investigation does not fall off the radar screen.

UN Documents on the Hariri Assassination

 Selected Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1686 (15 June 2006) extended UNIIIC’s mandate by one year.
  • S/RES/1664 (29 March 2006) requested negotiation with Lebanon on a tribunal of an international character.
  • S/RES/1644 (15 December 2005) authorised expanded technical assistance to Lebanon and requested reports on the progress of the investigation every three months.
  • S/RES/1636 (31 October 2005) urged Syria to cooperate with the investigation and established sanctions against suspects in the Hariri killing.
  • S/RES/1595 (7 April 2005) established UNIIIC.

UN Documents on the Implementation of Resolution 1559

 Selected Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1680 (17 May 2006) encouraged Syria to respond positively to the Lebanese request to delineate their common border and called for further efforts to disband and disarm Hezbollah and to restore fully Lebanon’s control over all Lebanese territory.
  • S/RES/1559 (2 September 2004) urged Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon and the disbanding of militias.
 Selected Presidential Statements
  • S/PRST/2006/3 (23 January 2006) welcomed the second report on implementation of resolution 1559.
  • S/PRST/2005/26 (22 June 2005) welcomed the parliamentary elections.
  • S/PRST/2005/17 (4 May 2005) welcomed the first report on implementation of resolution 1559.
  • S/PRST/2004/36 (19 October 2004) requested the Secretary-General to report to the Council every six months.
 Secretary-General’s Reports
  • S/2006/248 (19 April 2006) third semi-annual report
  • S/2005/673 (26 October 2005) second semi-annual report
  • S/2005/272 (29 April 2005) first semi-annual report
  • S/2004/777 (1 October 2004) report pursuant to resolution 1559

UN Documents on Israel/Lebanon

 Selected Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1701 (11 August 2006) called for a cessation of hostilities, authorised a reinforcement of UNIFIL and extended the mandate until 31 August 2007.
  • S/RES/1697 (31 July 2006) extended the UNIFIL mandate to 31 August 2006.
  • S/RES/1655 (31 January 2006) extended the UNIFIL mandate to 31 July 2006.
  • S/RES/426 (19 March 1978) approved the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of resolution 425.
  • S/RES/425 (19 March 1978) called for strict respect for the international integrity, sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon, urged Israel to withdraw from Lebanese territory, and established UNIFIL.
 Selected Presidential Statements
  • S/PRST/2006/35 (30 July 2006) expressed shock and distress at the Qana incident.
  • S/PRST/2006/34 (27 July 2006) expressed shock and distress at the killing of four UN observers in south Lebanon.
  • S/PRST/2000/21 (18 June 2000) recognised that Israel withdrew from all of Lebanese territory.
 Selected Secretary-General’s Reports
  • S/2006/670 (18 August 2006) was the report on the implementation of resolution 1701.
  • S/2006/626 (7 August 2006) was the report on the Qana incident.
  • S/2006/560 (21 July 2006) was the latest report on UNIFIL.
  • S/2000/590 and Corr.1 (16 June 2000) concluded that Israel withdrew completely from Lebanon.
 Selected Letters
  • S/2006/675 (21 August 2006) was the letter from the Secretary-General on the parties’ obligations with respect to the cessation of hostilities.
  • S/2006/639 (14 August 2006) was the letter from Lebanon including the Lebanese prime minister’s seven-point plan to end the conflict.
  • S/2006/608 (4 August 2006) was the letter from Malaysia including the Putrajaya Declaration on the situation in Lebanon adopted by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.
  • S/2006/582 (27 July 2006) was the letter from the Permanent Observer of the League of Arab States regarding the follow-up of the resolutions adopted by the Council of the League of Arab States on 15 July 2006.

For Historical Background and Other Relevant Facts, please refer to our:

Other Relevant Facts

 Current Troop Pledges to UNIFIL II
  • France: leadership and 2,000 troops
  • Italy: 2,000 / 3,000 troops
  • Bangladesh: two battalions (up to 2,000 troops)
  • Malaysia: one battalion
  • Spain: one mechanised battalion
  • Indonesia: one battalion, an engineering company
  • Nepal: one battalion
  • Denmark: at least two ships
  • Poland: 500 troops
  • Finland: 250 troops
  • Belgium: 302 troops, later rising to 392
  • Germany: maritime and border patrols but no combat troops
  • Norway: 100 soldiers

Useful Additional Sources

Israel/Palestine/Lebanon: Climbing Out of the Abyss, International Crisis Group, Middle East Report No. 57, 25 July 2006.

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