Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Hizballah rearms; Olmert praises Siniora; UN paralysed

From DEBKAfile, August 21, 2006, 9:21 PM (GMT+02:00):

Hizballah is smuggling hundreds of rockets and dozens of launchers into S. Lebanon without interference... Hizballah is also working on the rehabilitation of its short-range rocket “Nasser” Brigade – all under cover of the stream of returning south Lebanese refugees.

Weapons deliveries from Syria to Lebanon are arriving at an accelerated pace in the last 24 hours, mostly through the northern Beqaa Valley. They are then distributed across Lebanon including the south. Israel is no longer impeding the traffic although it has been given an all-clear from Washington.

Monday, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert praised his Lebanese counterpart Fouad Siniora for his courage and predicted if things carry on this way, it may soon be possible to discuss formalizing relations. However, DEBKAfile discloses that, on the quiet, Siniora has instructed his troops to avoid friction with Hizballah and on no account impound its weapons or obstruct its efforts to regroup.

Hassan Nasrallah has reciprocated with orders to his men not to resist if Lebanese soldiers confiscate their weapons because they will be restored through the secret back-door channel conducted by the Lebanese PM. DEBKAfile’s sources add: Siniora has ignored Israel’s complaint through Washington about the arms supplies transiting N. Beqaa. He has made no request to UNIFIL to enforce the UN arms embargo.

....The Lebanese army’s deployment and patrols are described by Israeli military sources in Lebanon as futile; Hizballah tells them which roads and villages they may enter, and which they may not. UNIFIL’s patrols are likewise a charade. The international force has confined itself to clearing mines; it is not spending any time on enforcing Security Council resolution 1701. Even then, the mine-clearing teams make sure of permission from Hizballah and the Lebanese army before they venture on territories under their control.

The mood in Washington over the prospect of getting an effective multinational force deployed in S. Lebanon is downbeat ... Not a single government is willing to contribute a contingent without a clear prescription of permitted dos and don’ts, including the foreign troops’ freedom to defend themselves. UNIFIL has received general authorization to fire in self-defense but it is heavily qualified and still not approved by the Lebanese government.

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