October 2012 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 September 2012
Download Complete Forecast: PDF


Expected Council Action

In late October, Special Envoy Terje Rød-Larsen will brief Council members in consultations on the Secretary-General’s report, due on 19 October, on the implementation of resolution 1559. This resolution, adopted in 2004, called for the disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias and urged the extension of government control over all Lebanese territory.

The Council will also likely discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria and its impact on Lebanon, in particular the consequences of that crisis on border issues and the disarmament mandated by resolution 1559.

At press time no formal outcome was expected.

Key Recent Developments

On 30 August, the Council adopted resolution 2064, extending the mandate of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) until 31 August 2013. The new resolution differed little from the previous UNIFIL renewal in resolution 2004. However, resolution 2064 did take into account the recently completed strategic review of the mission and called for an acceleration of the strategic dialogue between UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) consistent with the review’s recommendations. UNIFIL Force Commander, Maj. Gen. Paolo Serra, met with senior government officials on 19 September to discuss cooperation between the mission and the LAF following the recent redeployment of LAF units north of the Litani River, and therefore beyond UNIFIL’s area of operations, in order to address security along the border with Syria.

In a memorandum submitted to President Michel Sleiman on 4 September, the 14 March coalition (led by former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, son of Rafiq Hariri—a former Prime Minister assassinated in 2005) called for the deployment of UNIFIL peacekeepers along the border with Syria and for the expulsion of the Syrian ambassador to Lebanon. In response, Prime Minister Najib Mikati told reporters that the time was not right to address the issues raised.

Developments in Syria have continued to exacerbate instability in Lebanon. Mikati said in his address to the General Assembly on 27 September that the security consequences of the Syrian crisis threaten peace and stability in the Middle East, specifically in Lebanon.

According to Robert Serry, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, between 22 August and 17 September there were seven confirmed incidents of cross-border shelling from Syria into Lebanon. News outlets reported on 17 September that Syrian jets had fired four missiles into Lebanese territory near the border town of Arsal.

Kidnappings have also plagued the border between Lebanon and Syria. On 13 August more than 20 Syrians and a Turkish businessman were kidnapped by members of the Meqdad clan in Lebanon in retaliation for the kidnapping of a member of the same clan in Damascus by Syrian rebels. Though most of the hostages were promptly released, the Turkish businessman was held until 11 September, and the LAF freed the final four Syrians in a raid that evening. Three individuals were arrested and charged with the kidnappings. Earlier, Syrian rebels released Hussain Omar in late August and Awad Ibrahim in late September, both are Lebanese nationals who were part of a group of 11 Shi’ite pilgrims kidnapped in Syria in May. At press time, the other nine pilgrims had not been released.

Between 20 and 26 August, clashes between Sunnis and Alawites in the northern city of Tripoli left at least 16 people dead and more than 100 wounded. Following arrests by the LAF on 26 August, the situation had reportedly calmed though tensions remained.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has reported that there are more than 79,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Meeting with Mikati on 4 September, Derek Plumbly, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, noted that the swelling numbers of refugees are an increasingly heavy burden on the country. In late August, a spokesman for UNHCR noted that the deteriorating security situation in Lebanon—specifically the fighting in Tripoli—was also impeding efforts to provide aid to the refugees.  

Lebanon’s National Dialogue Committee met on 16 August but postponed discussing the national defence strategy until 20 September. On that day, the National Dialogue met again for two hours in a session described by participants as “positive.” According to a statement released following the meeting, it was agreed “to consider the vision proposed by the president as a starting point for discussion in a bid to agree on a national defence strategy that includes the issue of Hezbollah’s arms”. The next meeting of the National Dialogue is scheduled for 12 November.

On 13 September, the US imposed sanctions on Mustafa Amine Badreddine, one of four individuals charged at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri, for allegedly providing support to Hezbollah (which the US considers a terrorist organisation). On 20 September, Badreddine’s defense counsel issued a press release asserting that the sanctions constituted political interference. Trial activity has been tentatively scheduled to start on 25 March 2013.

Key Issues

The key issues in Lebanon stemming from resolution 1559 concern the disposal of Hezbollah’s arms and the delineation of the border between Lebanon and Syria. While the resumption of the National Dialogue and the attention it could pay to the issue of Hezbollah’s weapons are promising signs, the Council will likely continue to be concerned about the fact that these arms remain outside the control of the government.

A related issue concerns the flows of weapons into and out of Syria, especially given Hezbollah’s support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

A future issue for Council members might be how best to use UN resources in Lebanon to respond to changing events in Syria. If the character of the crisis shifts significantly, the presence of UNIFIL may provide some additional options for the Council.

Underlying Problems

Hezbollah maintains a significant military capacity in violation of resolution 1559 and 1701. However, this has been justified by some as a reaction to the ongoing Israeli occupation of portions of Lebanon, particularly the Sheb’a Farms and Kafr Shuba hills. 

The ongoing Syrian crisis will most likely indefinitely stall any meaningful implementation of resolution 1559. Conversely, any fundamental changes to the situation in Syria will impact the Council’s work on Lebanon.


The most likely option for the Council is to take no action on the 1559 report. The last time the Council made a formal pronouncement on such a report was in an 11 June 2007 presidential statement.

Council Dynamics

Council members’ positions have not changed significantly in recent months and they are mostly in a wait-and-see mode. However, they are increasingly discussing Lebanon and Syria as highly inter-related issues as the spillover effects of the Syrian crisis continue to negatively impact Lebanon.

Regarding the Tribunal, Council members have generally underscored the importance of its independence and foresee no Council role in relation to its activities.

France is the lead country on Lebanon in the Council.

Sign up for SCR emails
UN Documents on Lebanon

Security Council Resolutions  
30 August 2012 S/RES/2064 This resolution extended the mandate of UNIFIL for 12 months.
30 May 2007 S/RES/1757 This resolution decided on the entry into force of the agreement between the United Nations and the Lebanese Republic on the establishment of a Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
2 September 2004 S/RES/1559 This resolution urged withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon, disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias, extension of the Lebanese government’s control over all Lebanese territory, and free and fair presidential elections.
Security Council Presidential Statement  
11 June 2007 S/PRST/2007/17 This presidential statement expressed concern at illegal movements of arms and supported the Lebanese army’s efforts to restore stability in Lebanon.
Security Council Letters  
14 August 2012 S/2012/632 This letter from the Secretary-General recommended extending the mandate of UNIFIL for 12 months.
12 March 2012 S/2012/151 This letter contained the strategic review of UNIFIL requested in resolution 2004.