Monday, August 14, 2006

Ceasefire leaves a region at risk

From The Australian Editorial: August 14, 2006 [emphasis added]...

It's up to Iran to decide if the resolution will mean true peace

THE UN certainly has form in the Middle East. For almost 30 years, the organisation has attempted to bring peace to Israel's northern border and security to the people of Lebanon, passed countless resolutions, spent millions of dollars on an ineffectual peacekeeping force and achieved almost nothing. This record of failure manifested itself most recently in the present conflict that has over the past four weeks cost more than 1000 lives in fighting between the Jewish state and the terrorist organisation Hezbollah, which has for the past several years treated southern Lebanon as its home base.

The UN's latest attempt at peacemaking, Security Council resolution 1701, provides for a ceasefire between Hezbollah and Israel, reiterates its demand for the disarming of militias and calls for the Lebanese Government to reassert itself in the nation's south (as called for by resolution 1559) as Israel withdraws. But aside from saving lives in the short term, it is doubtful it will bring the region any closer to peace.

... Lofty words agreed to at the UN often have precious little application in the real world of the Middle East. Resolution 1701 is in many ways just a rehash of 2004's resolution 1559. promising to pull back so soon after pushing north towards the Litani River, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert threatens to leave Hezbollah's logistical and command and control structures reasonably intact. That they will stay this way was all but confirmed by the Foreign Minister of France - whose troops are expected to lead an expanded UNIFIL mission to southern Lebanon - when he said on Saturday that he did not believe in using force to disarm Hezbollah.

... Given Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's apocalyptic tendencies, his repeated vows to wipe Israel from the face of the map and his nuclear ambitions, it would not be wise to put too much stock in the current ceasefire as a long-term solution to problems in the Middle East. Israel has made clear that its most fervent desire is to be left alone and in peace on its small strip of land on the Mediterranean. It put up with six years of often-fatal harassment by Hezbollah before finally striking back. Time and again it has offered serious settlements to the Palestinian people only to have peace derailed by radicals, the most extreme of whom will not be satisfied until Israel is obliterated. Thus it will always find itself going to war as long as its neighbours refuse to countenance its existence.

Lately, Dr Ahmadinejad has tried to recast himself as less a radical anti-Semite than a necessary counterweight to Western leaders such as George W. Bush. If the Iranian leader was a fraction of the reasonable man he now professes to be, he would call off his dogs in southern Lebanon who make life miserable for so many Muslims, Jews and Christians alike. And the Government in Beirut and people of Lebanon would do everything in their power to take back control of their country.

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