It is impossible to speak of a Hizbullah victory’ when nearly a thousand Lebanese civilians have been killed, thousands more injured, a million people internally displaced; and Lebanon’s infrastructure, environment and economy laid to waste as the world watches.
The general consensus however is that Hizbullah’s and ‘s steadfastness after four weeks of merciless Israeli attacks means that has failed to achieve its objectives through military means: crushing/disarming Hizbullah, reinstating its deterrent, and protecting the security of northern . Indeed, Hizbullah’s resistance has gained unprecedented support throughout the Arab world, and Nasrallah has emerged as a Nasser-like figure who has restored pride to Arabs everywhere in contrast to the uniformly servile and unpopular Arab regimes.
The draft UN resolution proposed by the US and France on Saturday thus seems strangely out of place, as though Israel had won this war decisively and is in a position to dictate the terms. The draft does not reflect either the reality of a balance of terror that clearly exists between Hizbullah and today, or the political unity that this war has created in and across the Arab world. As such, it has come as a shock to many people in the region. In the words of the influential Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri (who is mediating between Hizbullah and the Lebanese government), "if did not win the war and it gets all this, what would have happened if it had won the war?"
Here are some preliminary observations on this draft resolution:
1. It clearly adopts the Israeli narrative that this war was begun by Hizbullah"referred to dismissively as an "armed group" "on 12 July when it "abducted" (as opposed to "captured") two Israeli soldiers, and makes clear that to prevent the "resumption of hostilities" Hizbullah must be banned in all areas between the Blue Line and Litani River. Elsewhere, the text refers to the Sheba’a farms as "disputed or uncertain" as opposed to "occupied."
2. It calls for a "cessation of hostilities" until an international force is deployed, as opposed to the "immediate cease fire" that the Lebanese government has repeatedly demanded. This gives the face-saving mechanism it needs to justify the heavy costs of this war to its own public, given its pledge not to stop the war until an international force is in place in southern .
3. It further calls on Hizbullah to cease all "attacks" while must only cease "offensive military operations." Given that has all along stated that this war is in self-defense, this phrasing clearly gives the green light to continue to hit Hizbullah targets whenever it interprets the need for self defense.’ And since ‘Hizbullah targets’ apparently includes the full spectrum of civilian installations throughout the country as well as all civilians in , could interpret this to mean a green light for the continuation of its onslaught.
4. It refers to the "unconditional release" of Israeli soldiers, but only to "encouraging the efforts aimed at resolving the issue of the Lebanese prisoners detained in ." It says nothing about the exchange of prisoners, a key Lebanese demand.
5. It does not heed ‘s demand for an immediate lifting of the Israeli siege of . Rather it makes clear that airports and ports will be reopened only for "verifiably and purely civilian purposes." In other words, everyone and everything going in and out of the country will be monitored, thus turning into a new
6. There is no mention of an international investigation into ‘s savage attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure as ‘s Prime Minster has repeatedly demanded. There is moreover no reference to war crimes, international humanitarian laws or the Geneva Conventions.
7. The heart of this draft resolution calls for a permanent ceasefire based on the disarming of "all armed groups in " under UN resolution 1559, and the deployment in (as opposed to , or both countries) of an "international force" under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to help implement a "long term solution." The Lebanese government has insisted that the disarming of Hizbullah must be part of ‘s national dialogue in the context of the Taif Accords, and that the Lebanese army should be the main player in securing southern , with an expanded UNIFIL there to assist it as needed.
In short, this draft resolution is a major blow to Lebanon, its sovereignty, and its new found political unity and consensus as represented by the government’s much-publicized seven point plan, first unveiled in the Rome Conference of 25 July and later adopted unanimously by the Council of Ministers (that includes Hizbullah) and supported by the Arab League and Organization of Islamic Conferences. The draft totally ignores major Lebanese demands, most notably ‘s withdrawal from any territory it has seized during this war, the placing of Sheba’a farms area under UN control until border delineation is completed, the exchange of prisoners, and the rejection of a Charter VII authorized "international force." Worse, it waves all culpability of in terms of its deliberate targeting of civilians and consigns the long-established international laws of war to the trashbin.
As expected, the Lebanese government has already rejected the draft outright because it is clearly not a serious attempt to resolve the crisis. Ominously, the draft’s bias seems clearly designed to ensure rejects it, thus giving yet more time to continue its carnage in . It also seems designed to divide once again politically"and potentially along sectarian lines–to isolate Hizbullah. This is extremely dangerous, and may lead to more violent civil conflict or even full-scale war. Much depends on the leadership skills of Prime Minister Siniora who needs to emerge as a genuine national leader if such civil conflict is to be avoided in the coming months.
Overall, then, we can see that this draft UN resolution represents a second wave of US-European-Israeli attacks on . While the military assault against Hizbullah has apparently failed, we now enter a diplomatic war that will be even bloodier.
It is clear that, once again, the differences between and
The international community as embodied by the United Nations Security Council is, for all intents and purposes, itself waging war on a small, vulnerable
Karim Makdisi is Assistant Professor of International Relations in the Dept of Political Studies and Public Administration at the