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Tel Aviv Notes No. 184
August 22, 2006

Aiman Mansour
Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies

For Hizbullah and its supporters in Lebanon, UN Security Council Resolution
1701 is, if not a clear victory, then certainly the least of all evils. The
main reason is that 1701 keeps the discussion of Hizbullah’s disarmament
within the confines of the barren exercise known as the “Lebanese National
Dialogue.” Moreover, the Resolution provides no effective mechanism for
action by the Lebanese Government or UNIFIL to disarm Hizbullah or terminate
its existence as a state within a state.

Israel’s initial decision to act against Hizbullah raised hopes that it
would damage the Shi’ite organization severely enough to empower the United
Nations and the Lebanese Government to act decisively against Hizbullah and
disarm it completely. But while the IDF did seriously degrade Hizbullah’s
missile array, it was unable to strike a decisive blow at the organization’s
senior military or political leadership. Moreover, the military campaign
did not initially involve destructive operations against Hizbullah’s
civilian infrastructure; that only happened toward the very end.

>From the viewpoint of Hizbullah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, the Security
Council Resolution does not undermine his status but rather the opposite.
The Resolution creates a situation in which Lebanon after the campaign is
little different from Lebanon before it. True, the Resolution does call on
the Lebanese Government to deploy through the south – which was apparently
impossible a month before – and it does provide for the augmentation of
UNIFIL by some 13,000 troops, but it does not create any framework that can
threaten Hizbullah’s existence or ongoing terrorist activity. The viewpoint
is evident in the following ways:

1. effectiveness of the international force: Hizbullah was extremely
apprehensive about the possibility that a NATO force might be deployed with
extensive authority similar to that of the multilateral force sent to
Lebanon in the early 1980s. Indeed, that prospect was so threatening that
Hizbullah’s leaders declared their intention to fight such a force.
Moreover, the idea that even a reinforced UNIFIL might be authorized under
Chapter 7 of the UN Charter provoked outright rejection by Hizbullah. That
position led the Lebanese Government to endorse the deployment in southern
Lebanon of UNIFIL with very ambiguous authority. This is apparent from the
provisions under which it will operate. Although it is explicitly
stipulated that UNIFIL can use its weapons to defend its troops and
equipment, the force is merely enjoined to do everything “within its
capabilities” to prevent hostile actions within its area of operations.

2. deployment of the Lebanese army: a Lebanese army force is deployed in the
south with the explicit consent of Hizbullah. That constitutes a concession
compared to Hizbullah’s position a bit more than a month ago. But given
that the army is not charged with disarming Hizbullah, its deployment is a
much less dramatic development than might appear to be the case.
.
3. demilitarization of the area south of the Litani: the Resolution states
that the area south of the Litani River should be free of armed personnel or
weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and UNIFIL. However,
the reality of the south is more complicated. In the Shi’ite villages
there, Hizbullah maintains “security committees” that provide a framework
for security coordinators whose ongoing task is to “protect the Shi’ite
villages.” In fact, this framework constitutes a militia, and it is
unlikely that the Lebanese army or UNIFIL will have the political will to
disarm an ostensibly “civilian” framework.

4. disarmament of Hizbullah and arms embargo: the IDF’s inability to disrupt
Hizbullah’s civilian infrastructure or eliminate its leadership mean that
the Lebanese Government lacks sufficient self-confidence to act decisively
to disarm Hizbullah, even with the assistance of any international force.
Consequently, the “National Dialogue” may reconvene but Hizbullah’s
opponents will have no capacity whatsoever to translate their political
power into a decision to disarm Hizbullah, either by peaceful means or by
force. The absence of an effective framework to do that means that the
Security Council’s stipulation that all states will prevent the “sale or
supply to any entity or individual in Lebanon of arms and related materiel
of all types” will remain a dead letter. The ineffectiveness of the embargo
is due to the fact that the Lebanese Government will continue to control
border crossings (as it did in the past) and UNIFIL will assist in this
control only if it is asked to do so by Beirut. Absent any decision to
disarm Hizbullah (and with Hizbullah officially represented in the
government), the smuggling of weapons into Lebanon, primarily by Iran and
Syria, will be far less difficult than might appear from the wording of the
Resolution.

Less than seventeen hours elapsed between the adoption of Resolution 1701
by the Security Council and the acceptance of it by Nasrallah. In one
sense, that reflects the extent of the damage the IDF had inflicted on
Hizbullah’s military infrastructure and the pressure placed on Nasrallah.
But it also demonstrates the extent to which the Resolution does not really
constrain Hizbullah. A resolution that had truly jeopardized Hizbullah
would have prompted it to fight on, as it apparent from the organization’s
reaction to the original Franco-American draft. And while regional
governments may be ambivalent about the outcome, the ability of Nasrallah
and the rest of the Hizbullah leadership to survive has just strengthened
their popularity on the “Muslim street.”
___________________________________________________________________
Tel Aviv Notes is published by
TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY
The Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies www.tau.ac.il/jcss/
& The Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies
http://www.dayan.org/
through the generosity of Sari and Israel Roizman, Philadelphia

KEYWORD: Lebanon