The Nudnik File

Nudnik - n. U.S. colloq. Esp. in Jewish usage: a pestering, nagging, or irritating person

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

              UNIFIL Past and Future
Throughout its existence, UNIFIL has been a disaster for Israel and not much help to the Lebanese. The only group that it has been good for is Hizbullah. In fact, they have been so good for Hizbullah that during this past war UNIFIL gave them critical intelligence.
UNIFIL--the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, a nearly 2,000-man blue-helmet contingent that has been present on the Lebanon-Israel border since 1978--is officially neutral. Yet, throughout the recent war, it posted on its website for all to see precise information about the movements of Israeli Defense Forces soldiers and the nature of their weaponry and materiel, even specifying the placement of IDF safety structures within hours of their construction. New information was sometimes only 30 minutes old when it was posted, and never more than 24 hours old.

Meanwhile, UNIFIL posted not a single item of specific intelligence regarding Hezbollah forces. Statements on the order of Hezbollah "fired rockets in large numbers from various locations" and Hezbollah's rockets "were fired in significantly larger numbers from various locations" are as precise as its coverage of the other side ever got.
Given this past, the question is why did Olmert agree to an expanded UNIFIL force?

Mario Loyola thinks that the UN and Europe have effectively tricked themselves into protecting Israel with the new UNIFIL.
What is a new and very real possibility now is open conflict between Hezbollah and the U.N. force. UNIFIL has in past years been accused of coordinating with Hezbollah, which it might have had to do just as a matter of survival. But the robust UNIFIL, operating with the military freedom of action which France appears to have secured at the urgings of its army, will be in a position to impose facts upon Hezbollah. It will be high profile, and its commanders will want to prove that it is not "a joke", as one Israeli ambassador described the current force. Importantly, it will not have to seek Hezbollah'’s permission to move around. And although U.N. officials have made it clear that the U.N. force will not actively seek to disarm Hezbollah, they will demand that Hezbollah fighters found in the open give over their weapons, and they are prepared to use force to exact obedience.

The enhanced U.N. force will no doubt create many frustrations for Israel, and we should be prepared for the possibility of a hostile encounter between the two at some point. But we should also recognize one important bit of good news in all this: From now on, Hezbollah's activities will be Europe'’s problem, too. And however much the Europeans may oppose us on Iraq, their Angry Muslim problem is starting to dominate both their domestic- and foreign-policy agendas, and one gets the feeling that they are starting to get really sick of it now.
I'm not quite sure that it will work out this way, given Europe's prediliction against taking any military action and the large presence of Muslim forces among the new UNIFIL. But UNIFIL may provide enough of a buffer to enable the Lebanese to eventually do something about Hizbullah themselves.
|| Nudnik 12:32 PM
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