Lebanon: Hezbollah Rearms While UN Sleeps
Though southern Lebanon swarms with thousands of United Nations soldiers, Hezbollah continues to rearm at breakneck speed. If the embarrassing oil-for-food scandal in Iraq and the botched UN operations in Liberia, Sudan, Rwanda, Colombia, Kashmir and Angola weren’t enough to convince you the United Nations is a decrepit organization, then what’s currently unraveling in Lebanon probably won’t.
Like fire ants that just had their hill kicked over, Hezbollah soldiers are rebuilding, reshaping and restocking the infrastructure and arsenal that was destroyed and depleted this past summer. Tunnels and trenches are being redug; aid and supplies are flowing in; telecommunication lines are being restored; weapons and missile stocks are being replenished. On top of all this, this major overhaul is being carried out under the noses of over 20,000 Lebanese and UN soldiers.
Like Liberia and Rwanda before it, Hezbollah is making a mockery of the United Nations!
To be fair to the UN, Hezbollah’s method for putting itself back together is quite cunning. In the town of Bint Jbeil recently, locals told reporter Michael Hirst how Hezbollah soldiers are exploiting the major reconstruction occurring in Lebanese towns as a cloak by which they can cover up their own reconstruction efforts. Soldiers who brandished guns and rocket launchers in July now push wheelbarrows, swing brooms and drive shovels. But rather than help rebuild homes and schools, these soldiers are pouring their sweat into tunnels and trenches that will be used for weapons smuggling and launch pads.
The hundreds of trucks carrying aid, supplies and materials into southern Lebanon are perfect, as another local told Hirst, for smuggling weapons and communications equipment into the region. Hezbollah already has 20,000 missiles on hand, with more continuing to flow in.
About 9,500 UN soldiers and at least 12,000 Lebanese soldiers are stationed in southern Lebanon, and still the region is a beehive of terrorist activity. So if UN and Lebanese soldiers aren’t curbing Hezbollah’s activities, what are they doing?
The answer: very little!
Spiegel Online reports (emphasis ours):
“We just stand around,” complain Spanish Marines from the nearby “Isla de Leon” base who are on patrol in Piranha armored cars. The two vehicles stop every 20 minutes and the soldiers hang around on the street. “We can tell you exactly what we’re doing here,” they say. “We are here just to be here.”
Read UN Resolution 1701, and it becomes obvious why UN troops are inactive. Beyond being soft-spoken, toothless and painfully vague, the resolution provides no clear and definite course of action should Hezbollah decide to return to its pre-war status as a fully armed, battle-ready terrorist organization. Thus, Hezbollah is arming right in front of 9,500 UN soldiers, yet the mandate under which the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (unifil) operates fails to stipulate that UN troops should use force to stop these activities.
On paper, UN Resolution 1701 says Hezbollah should not be allowed to rearm. The reality of the situation, though, is that it does absolutely zilch to dissuade the Iranian-sponsored group from restocking its shelves.
The resolution is clear on one matter though, that is, unifil forces are not to act independently in their responsibilities in southern Lebanon, rather, they are to submit to and provide assistance to the Lebanese government and military. Though such a deal seems reasonable—after all, it is Lebanon’s territory that UN forces are working in—there is one major problem: The Lebanese government and military has a soft spot for Hezbollah and a history of failing to deal forcefully with the terrorist group in its midst.
The Lebanese government deployed 12,000 soldiers to southern Lebanon, but those soldiers are doing virtually nothing to prevent Hezbollah from rearming and replenishing its supplies. Hezbollah’s position in the Lebanese coalition government, as well as the staunch support it receives from Tehran and Damascus, gives the group the boldness and audacity that results in it disrespecting the Lebanese government and military.
UN Resolution 1701 requires that Lebanon disarm Hezbollah, a task unifil could assist with, yet after almost three months the Lebanese government has shown no signs that it is even interested in disarming the group.
Hezbollah (i.e. Iran) is preparing for war with Israel, Lebanon is doing nothing to stop it, and UN troops are little more than passive onlookers. In many cases, even UN soldiers themselves are growing frustrated.
“One junior officer, who preferred to remain anonymous, said he was glad that his battalion would be back in Cadiz in southern Spain at the beginning of November, replaced by normal infantry. ‘It’s absurd,’ he says. ‘We landed here and set up our tent city, but since then we’ve only left the camp to drive around and to make sure that we’re seen’” (ibid.).
Arutz Sheva recently noted how Hezbollah terrorists are more prone to roaming freely and conducting their activities at night because unifil does not patrol the streets after dark. Spanish unifil official Richard Ortax admitted that nightly patrols are not conducted by UN troops “because of the danger involved.” These soldiers went to Lebanon prepared for confrontation. They are well-trained and equipped with some of the best technology and weaponry available, not to mention that they outnumber Hezbollah fighters almost 2 to 1—yet it’s too dangerous for them to participate in nightly patrols?
This is as embarrassing as it is ridiculous!
Since Resolution 1701 passed in August, thousands of troops from around the world have descended into southern Lebanon. But those troops can do very little to actually stop Hezbollah from rearming. UN soldiers are cooped up in tent cities, or they are manning road blocks that are more like fishnets with gigantic holes, or patrolling streets teeming with Hezbollah terrorists who are rebuilding infrastructure.
UN officials would argue that its presence in Lebanon is preventing war from breaking out. That might be true for now, but the fact is, if an unrepentant Iranian-backed terrorist group with a proven track record for starting wars with Israel is allowed to rearm and reinstate itself so quickly after its latest war, then a future war is inevitable.
The UN has put 9,500 soldiers in southern Lebanon and essentially told them to close their eyes and do nothing about rampant terrorist activity. As long as Hezbollah’s army is allowed to prepare for war unhindered, there is one thing we can know for sure: The UN’s incompetence is hastening the day the next war begins.