A careful review of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 indicates that the core issue is the restoration of Lebanese sovereignty.
Sovereignty comprises three elements. The first is international legal recognition. The second, “Westphalian Sovereignty”, is the ability of a state to exclude external actors from interfering in its domestic affairs. The third, domestic sovereignty, requires that the government holds a monopoly on the use of collective violence and broad support.
So who is impairing Lebanese sovereignty?
The Hizbullah Manifesto says: “We, the sons of Hizbullah’s nation, whose vanguard God has given victory in Iran and which has established the nucleus of the world’s central Islamic state, abide by the orders of a single wise and just command currently embodied in the Supreme Ayatollah Ruhollah al-Musavi al-Khomeyni.”… “We declare that the sons of Hizbullah’s nation have come to know well their basic enemies in the area: Israel, America, France and the Phalange. Our sons are now in a state of ever-escalating confrontation against these enemies until the following objectives are achieved: Israel’s final departure from Lebanon as a prelude to its final obliteration from existence and the liberation of venerable Jerusalem from the talons of occupation.”…
…“As for Israel, we consider it the American spearhead in our Islamic world.…Therefore, our confrontation of this entity must end with its obliteration from existence. This is why we do not recognise any cease-fire agreement, any truce or any separate or non-separate peace treaty with it.”
“All the Western ideas concerning man’s origin nature [sic] cannot respond to man’s aspirations or rescue him from the darkness of misguidedness and ignorance. Only Islam can bring about man’s renaissance, progress and creativity”.
The Military Balance – 2006 – published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies states that the aims of Hizbullah are an “Iranian-style Islamic republic in Lebanon; remove all non-Islamic influences from the area”.
The population of Lebanon of 3.8m (excluding 300,000 Syrians and 350,000 Palestinians) comprises Christians 30%, Druze and Armenians 10%, with Sunni and Shia Muslims making up the 60% majority. Hizbullah are drawn from the Shia. They hold 52% of the seats allocated to the Shia community and 11% of the seats in the Lebanese Parliament.
Hizbullah has been armed by both Iran and Syria with both defensive and significant quantities of offensive arms, rockets and missiles.
For all these reasons Joschka Fischer, the ex Green Party German Foreign Minister said recently, “It [Hizbullah] does not act in the interest of the Lebanese state. Rather its interests are defined in Damascus and Tehran.”
Iran’s strategic ally in the region is Syria, a Sunni majority state under the control of a small Shia minority, the Alawis, who are perceived by many Muslims as heretics. Syria therefore seeks continuing legitimacy from Iran as the leading Shia state.
Following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Harari the UN Security Council appointed an international independent investigation commission (“UNIIIC”) to investigate Syria’s role. Its report paints a picture of Syrian interference and domination of Lebanon: “Syria has long had a powerful influence in Lebanon. During the Ottoman Empire, the area that became Lebanon was part of an overall administrative territory governed from Damascus. When the countries were established in the aftermath of the First World War, Lebanon was created from what many Arab nationalists considered to be rightfully part of Syria. Indeed, since the countries became independent, they have never had formal diplomatic relations.” (emphasis added)…
“Lebanese public opinion reflects a widespread view that, once UNIIIC has delivered its report and closed down, Lebanon will be ‘left alone’. The prevailing fear is that, in the aftermath of the completion of UNIIIC’s work, and sooner rather than later, the Syrian security and intelligence services will be back, orchestrating a “revenge campaign” in a society which remains “infiltrated” by pro-Syrian elements”.
Syria views Lebanon as part of “Greater Syria” and is an unwanted “Big Brother” to most Lebanese. When that majority pushed to have Syrian forces removed from Lebanon, Hizbullah organised a massive Pro-Syrian march to maintain the armed forces of a foreign power in Lebanon.
It is very clear therefore that Hizbullah, Iran and Syria together significantly impair each of the three elements of Lebanese sovereignty.
The Israeli withdrawal will eliminate its impact on Lebanese sovereignty unless it is provoked to return by Hizbullah attacks. Such attacks can clearly be orchestrated by Iran or Syria for their own ends.
UN Security Council Resolution 1701 requires that the area south of the Litani river be “free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the government of Lebanon and of Unifil.”… “The disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon.”… “No foreign forces in Lebanon without the consent of its government.”… And “no sales or supplies of arms and related material to Lebanon except as authorised by its government”.
The implementation of that Resolution and the establishment of full diplomatic relations with Lebanon will restore Lebanese Sovereignty. Iran, opposing the international community once again, described the Resolution as “a Zionist document”. Hizbullah will do what it is told by Iran and Syria and is backsliding already.
Ireland should help the Lebanese people shake off the embrace of Iran and Syria by pushing vigorously to ensure that UN Resolution 1701 is implemented fully and that Syria in particular establishes full diplomatic relations with Lebanon. The 70,000 strong Lebanese army with a 15,000 strong international force should over time help convince the 2,000 Hizbullah fighters to disarm or integrate into the Lebanese army. Our army’s non-involvement in politics after independence and our peace process are models to help in such integration and disarmament efforts. Finally we should push to have the investigation of the Harari assassination completed and the perpetrators brought to justice.
The international community failed Lebanon in not insisting on the disarming of Hizbullah before and by not concluding the Harari investigation. We have seen the impact of that failure on the people of Lebanon. We must not fail them again.