And as Ehud Olmert flies home from Moscow, CFR, not normally noted for a stance supportive of Israel, is backing up the reports that have recently appeared in the Jerusalem Post and elsewhere to the effect that Hizballah is steadily rebuilding the infrastructure that was destroyed in the Lebanon war, and is replenishing and refurbishing its stock of missiles and other weaponry. The Lebanese government is likewise making preparations that look like the preliminaries to war:
Experts say reverberations from the current dispute could undermine the UN’s authority in the region. The UN mission in Lebanon, or UNIFIL, had stationed more than 5,700 troops as of October 13, under the control of a French force commander, Gen. Alain Pellegrini. The force has come under increasing criticism from within Lebanon in recent days. On October 17, Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, Lebanon’s most senior Shiite cleric, said Lebanese were right to be wary (Daily Star) of UNIFIL’s authority, saying the force had “come here to protect Israel, not Lebanon.” Nasrallah’s remarks are blunter. At a recent rally, he warned the UN not to spy (LAT) on “the resistance,” and declared, “No army in the world is capable of forcing us to give up our weapons.” As UN troops work to stabilize one of the most fragile regions of the world, these are unwelcome signs indeed.
Lebanon, for its part, is not banking on the UN to defend it, and reportedly has struck a deal with Italy (DEBKAfile) to obtain sophisticated air defense missiles capable of bringing down Israeli warplanes in a future conflict. For deeper reading, CFR offers backgrounders on the troubled history of multilateral operations in the Middle East, on the fractured loyalties of Lebanon’s army, and on key UN resolutions in the Middle East conflict. Globalsecurity.org offers this guide to Lebanon’s military.