August 16, 2006

The disarming of Hizballah? - (updated)

UPDATE (August 16): According to Hizballah member of the Lebanese parliament, Shaykh Hasan Fadlallah, the organization has no intention of disarming, not withdrawing from the area south of the Litani River.

One of the most important issues in the Lebanese crisis is the disarming of Hizballah. This has been an issue for years, and is called for specifically in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 (2004) - the resolution calls for all militias to be disarmed.

Hizballah has resisted adhering to the demands of the resolution, claiming that Israel was not in compliance with previous resolutions (UNSCR 425 and 426) calling for its withdrawal from Lebanese territory. Israel, on the other hand, claims that it has complied with the United Nations calls to leave Lebanon - the United Nations has certified that. Hizballah claims that Israel's continued occupation of the Shaba' Farms requires Hizballah - actually "The Islamic Resistance" - to maintain a militia. See my earlier post, The Shaba' Farms - Hizballah's Fig Leaf.

According to UNSCR 1701, passed last weekend, Hizballah must comply with UNSCR 1559 and specifically disarm south of the Litani River. I doubt this will happen anytime soon. In a televised speech on August 14, Hizballah Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah stated that now was not an appropriate time to discuss disarming Hizballah, and that such discussions, when appropriate, should be done in secret with representatives of the Lebanese national government - whose cabinet includes several Hizballah members.

There are rumors that a deal is being worked out between Lebanese prime minister Fu'ad Sinyurah and Nasrallah that will allow Hizballah to keep its weapons but not display them in public, in direct violation of both the spirit and letter of the United Nations resolutions. That makes sense - who is going to disarm Hizballah? Certainly not the United Nations forces. They will not have the capability to find the weapons, and it is doubtful they will have the will to do so. The Lebanese Army? The Lebanese defense minister has already stated that Lebanese troops will not demand Hizballah to hand over its weapons. Like the international force, the Lebanese Army has neither the will nor capability to disarm Hizballah.

While all this is going on, Iran and Syria are likely attempting to rearm and resupply Hizballah. I fear that the problem will be with us for some time to come. Hizballah will remain an armed militia, maybe not as public and certainly hidden from view south of the Litani, but they will remain the most effective military force in Lebanon.