From AFP: European press warns French troop offer weakens UN force in Lebanon. (via LGF)
France faced criticism in the European press for not offering more troops for southern Lebanon, which was seen as jeopardizing the UN force's difficult task of imposing peace. ...
Despite expectations that France would provide the bulk of a planned 15,000 strong UN force, Paris said Thursday it would send 200 troops to reinforce the UN mission in Lebanon.
While it said France was prepared to command the enlarged force, it also called for safety guarantees for its soliders before making further commitments.
From FoxNews: French Soldiers Among First Peacekeepers to Land in Lebanon.
French soldiers landed in Lebanon on Saturday, the first reinforcements for an expanded U.N. peacekeeping force tasked with keeping the truce in the Israel-Hezbollah conflict.
About 50 French troops — military engineers — were to prepare for the arrival of 200 more soldiers expected next week, said Cmdr. Bertrand Bonneau, a spokesman for the French contingent. ...
On Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan appealed to U.N. member states to provide peacekeepers, assuring them the U.N. force would not be tasked with fighting Israel, Lebanon, or Hezbollah militants.
A key concern of many countries is whether the U.N. force will be called on to disarm Hezbollah fighters, as called for in a September 2004 U.N. resolution.
From the Boston Herald: With doublespeaking France, honor gets lost in translation by Jules Crittenden. (via InstaPundit)
In recent weeks, France stepped forward to act as a broker of peace in Lebanon. “Act” is the key verb in that last sentence, as it now would seem that the only other verifiable part of the sentence is “in recent weeks.”
To correctly parse that sentence, one must understand that when France suggested it wanted to broker peace in Lebanon, it did not necessarily mean “broker” or “peace” or “Lebanon” in the way we might understand those words. The same is true when France further suggested it wanted to “lead” a “strong” “multinational” “force” there.
I don’t speak French, so I have no idea what the actual French words are for those concepts or what possible nuances there may be. I’ve been relying on news reports in English, which now inform me that the French do not intend to send any significant number of troops to what is supposed to be a force of 15,000 in Lebanon, like everyone thought they said they would.
The heady moment of peace brokering having passed, uponsober reflection, the French now say they already have a general and some staff in south Lebanon ordering about UNIFIL, the U.N. monitoring entity there. That’s plenty of leadership, the French suggested: All France needs to contribute now is another 200 combat engineers.
In tactical terms, when it comes to securing a Middle East conflict zone, that can be referred to as “squat.”
UPDATE I -- Aug. 21: When will our leaders finally admit the pointlessness of their U.N. resolutions? The old resolutions -- all of which were meant to disarm Hezbollah -- didn't work, so what makes them think the another one will? From AP: U.S. resolution would disarm Hezbollah.
The United States is planning to introduce a new U.N. resolution on disarming Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, but U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said Monday this should not hold up the quick deployment of U.N. peacekeepers.
Hizbollah mourners on a funeral parade shoved aside anti-tank barriers at a United Nations base in Lebanon yesterday in a demonstration of their new political strength.
The party had been told it would be allowed to bury three "martyrs" at the Naqoura town cemetery inside the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) compound, but only if there was no flag-waving or political sloganising.
When the chanting procession, several hundred strong, reached the gates, it found the way barred by cruci-form steel tank traps. Mourners argued with the French guards, but failed to gain entry.
A mob of young men then dragged the barriers away and the UN opened the gates. "They will eat us alive," said a middle-aged official as the throng surged in.
UPDATE III -- Aug. 25: From AP: Chirac: Lebanon Does Not Need 15,000 Troops.
French President Jacques Chirac said Friday that he does not believe the expanded U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon needs 15,000 troops, and he called that figure "excessive."
A U.N. resolution calls for the force in southern Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, to expand from 2,000 troops to 15,000.
Chirac, who has pledged a total of 2,000 French troops, said the territory in question was too small to require that many peacekeepers.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan stressed Friday it was not the peacekeepers' task to strip the guerrillas of their weapons, saying that was an issue for Lebanon's government and "cannot be done by force."
"The troops are not going there to disarm Hezbollah. Let's be clear about that," he said.
Posted by Forkum at August 20, 2006 06:03 PM