Lebanese Question Worlds Silence

Lebanese question world’s silence
by Christian Henderson in Beirut
Wednesday 19 July 2006 10:34 AM GMT

The Lebanese army is unable to rein in Hezbollah

Many Lebanese say the failure of the international community to resolve the crisis in their country is worsening the situation.

They fear the escalation has become a zero-sum game that will get worse unless pressure is put on both sides, but so far there is no sign that intervention will come.

Amal Saad-Ghoreyeb, author of Hizbu’llah: Politics and Religion told Aljazeera.net that “The international community is doing very little to end the conflict. If you look at the G8 and the UN Security Council none of the members have the inclination to call for a ceasefire.

“I don’t think any of these parties have much clout to put pressure on Israel to end the onslaught apart from the US, and there is an absence of resolve on the behalf of the US to pursue any ceasefire,” she said.

Many in Lebanon were puzzled by Monday’s proposal by the UN secretary-general and the British prime minister to send an international force to the country as there has been a UN force on the border with Israel since 1978.

Timur Goksel, who was UN spokesman in southern Lebanon for 20 years and is now at the American University in Beirut, said: “To propose an international force is an inane thing to do there is already an international force here … I would like to know which country is going to come here?”

Collective punishment

Many in Lebanon consider Israel’s attack to be unjustly punishing a country that has little control over Hezbollah, a political party with a military wing that is stronger than the Lebanese army.

Boutrous Harb, a Lebanese member of parliament, told Aljazeera.net that “Lebanon cannot afford the escalation of this destruction. The Lebanese government is not in the position to control the behaviour of Hezbollah.”

There is anger at Hezbollah among many Lebanese who believe that its operation to capture soldiers on Wednesday invited Israel’s military response, and some believe that Hezbollah is not acting in the interests of Lebanon.

Said Goksel: “If this carries on like this Hezbollah will turn up as the villain in this. This is not going to be healthy for this country. Forget national dialogue. Hezbollah has made it clear that it is not interested in internal politics.”

But besides being a militia, Hezbollah is a political party popular with Lebanon’s Shia community, and while much of Hezbollah’s infrastructure can be destroyed, support for Hezbollah is likely to remain among the Lebanese Shia – the country’s largest group.

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