October 2011 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 September 2011
Download Complete Forecast: PDF
MIDDLE EAST

Lebanon

Expected Council Action
In late October, Council members are expecting a briefing in informal consultations from Special Envoy Terje Rød-Larsen on the implementation of S/RES/1559. This S/RES/1559, adopted in 2004, urged the disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias and the extension of government control over all Lebanese territory.

Discussion is likely to focus on the ongoing disarmament challenge and related border issues between Lebanon and Syria. At press time it seemed unlikely that the Council would take any formal action.

The crisis in Syria and its possible spillover effects into Lebanon and recent developments related to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will likely be on Council members’ minds.

Key Recent Developments
At press time, the Council was expecting the next report on the implementation of S/RES/1559 in mid-October. A key development since the last report in April was the 13 June announcement of the formation of Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s cabinet in which 18 of the 30 seats went to two Hezbollah parliamentarians and Hezbollah-aligned members of parliament. Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s 14 March coalition did not join the new government. Hezbollah-aligned ministers received key portfolios including defense, foreign affairs, justice and telecommunications. (The previous Hariri-led government fell on 12 January when 11 Hezbollah-aligned ministers withdrew over the issue of the Tribunal.)

On 30 August, the Council extended the mandate of UNIFIL until 31 August 2012 by unanimously adopting S/RES/2004. The S/RES/2004 also condemned “in the strongest terms all terrorist attacks against UNIFIL” and urged “all parties to abide scrupulously by their obligation to respect the safety of UNIFIL and other United Nations personnel.”  

On 27 September, Mikati, while chairing a Council meeting, expressed Lebanon’s support for the Tribunal. Such support was also acknowledged on 21 September by Lebanese President Michel Suleiman during his address to the General Assembly. On 11 September, Mikati indicated that Lebanon would pay its share of funds to the Tribunal noting that Lebanon would not be selective about implementing its international obligations. (The Tribunal is funded by Lebanon [49 percent] and voluntary contributions [51 percent]). At press time Lebanon had not yet paid its 2011 contribution.)

Regarding the Tribunal, after 18 September the process to determine whether to proceed to trial in absentia can begin. (The Tribunal waited 30 days from 19 August when it unsealed the full indictment against the four men accused in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.) Trial activity is not anticipated before mid-2012. 

On 9 August, the Lebanese prosecutor general reported to the Tribunal that Lebanese authorities had failed to detain any of the accused men.

On 25 May, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah called on Syrians to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. (Analysts note that Hezbollah receives much of its international support from Syria and Iran.)

Key Issues
Hezbollah’s rearmament since the end of the 2006 war with Israel remains an issue. Council members are likely to be concerned about the presence of weapons outside the reach of the Lebanese government as it raises questions about arms smuggling. 

An ongoing issue has been whether the Council might revive its attention to S/RES/1559 as some of its outstanding elements are also covered in S/RES/1701. Syria has, thus far, maintained that it met its S/RES/1559 obligations when it withdrew from Lebanon in 2005. However, most Council members take a wider view of the resolution, a key dimension of which is progress on Lebanese/Syrian border security and delineation which remains at a standstill.

Underlying Problems
Hezbollah maintains significant military capacity in violation of resolutions S/RES/1559 and S/RES/1701. However, this has been justified by some as a reaction to the ongoing Israeli occupation of portions of Lebanese territory, particularly the Sheb’a Farms and Kafr Shuba hills. 

Options
Given the apprehension about the possible spillover effects into Lebanon from the situation in Syria, the most likely option is for the Council to maintain its wait- and-see posture, as has been the practice since June 2007, the last time the Council took action on a 1559 report by issuing S/PRST/2007/17.

The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is independent. Council members will want to respect that while monitoring its impact on Lebanon’s political environment as the trial phase approaches. 

Council Dynamics
Most Council members seem to agree that there is still a need for compliance with two major outstanding S/RES/1559 issues—disarmament and borders—but maintaining stability in Lebanon may be the only achievable goal in the medium term.   

Most Council members agree that the situation requires sustained Council attention. However, progress on arms smuggling, disarmament and border delineation is only likely in the context of an inter-Lebanese dialogue and improvement on the Israel-Syria track. Both of these seem unlikely to yield progress in the foreseeable future, especially in the context of the ongoing crisis in Syria.

Regarding the Tribunal, Council members have a positive view of the fact that the indictment phase did not have a destabilising effect in Lebanon. Members will continue to monitor developments as the trial phase approaches.  Council members have generally underscored the importance of the Tribunal’s independence and foresee no Council role in its activities this year. (The Tribunal’s mandate expires in March 2012.)

France is the lead country on Lebanon in the Council. 

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/2004 (2011) renewed UNIFIL’s mandate until 31 August 2012.
  • S/RES/1757 (30 May 2007) established the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
  • S/RES/1701 (11 August 2006) called for a cessation of hostilities between Hezbollah and Israel.
  • S/RES/1680 (17 May 2006) strongly encouraged Syria to delineate its common border with Lebanon.
  • S/RES/1559 (2 September 2004) urged the disarmament of all militias and extension of the Lebanese government’s control over all Lebanese territory.

Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2007/17 (11 June 2007) expressed concern at illegal movements of arms and supported the Lebanese army’s efforts to restore stability in Lebanon.

Latest Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2011/406 (1 July 2011) was on resolution 1701.
  • S/2011/258  (19 April 2011) was on resolution 1559.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Coordinator for Lebanon

Michael Williams (UK) through the end of September

Special Envoy for the Implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559

Terje Roed-Larsen (Norway)

UNIFIL Force Commander

Maj. Gen. Alberto Asarta Cuevas (Spain)

Size and Composition of UNIFIL as of 31 July 2011

Authorised: 15,000 troops

Current: 11,746 troops

Troop Contributors: Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Cyprus, Denmark, El Salvador, France, FYR of Macedonia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Korea, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Nepal, Niger, Portugal, Qatar, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Turkey

Duration

March 1978 to present; mandate expires 31 August 2012

Cost

1 July 2011 to 30 June 2012: $545.47 million (A/C.5/65/19)

Full Forecast