Christmas Has Come Early for Hezbollah Chief Nasrallah
Tis’ the season to be jolly. But for the not so jolly bearded man from the Dahia district of Beirut in Lebanon, Hezbollah’s terror chief Hassan Nasrallah, and his Iranian bosses, Christmas has come early, and their presents are gift-wrapped in UN paper.
Yesterday, the United Nations Security Council debated a report recently published by UNIFIL, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon. Anyone who reads this report would think that UNIFIL has invented a completely new fantasy version of Lebanon. Astonishingly, the report ignores the single biggest threat to its mandate – the systematic rearmament of Hezbollah in South Lebanon, along Israel’s northern border. It is common knowledge in the intelligence communities of the United States, the UK, France, Israel and most likely any country that employs intelligence officers, that Hezbollah has amassed over 150,000 short and medium range missiles directed towards Israeli cities and threatening the entire Middle East. The only ones out of the loop are the people on the ground whose responsibility is to prevent such re-armament. Instead of detailing the locations of weapon stockpiles and asking the UN Security council to strengthen its mandate so they are able to raid them, the report goes into incredible detail of the amount of Lebanese shepherds spotted near the border area. 420 if anyone is interested. UNIFIL is literally counting sheep, while Hezbollah continues to grow the heaviest non-governmental military force in modern history.
In charge of UNIFIL’s force in Southern Lebanon is a man that has become more of an enabler for Hezbollah and Iran than a problem solver for the UN Security Council. Maj. Gen. Michael Beary, has said he sees no evidence of weapons being illegally transferred and stockpiled in the area. “If there was a large cache of weapons,” he said last summer, “we would know about it.” Maj. Gen. Beary – you had one job! As the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, has said, Beary “seems to be the only person in south Lebanon who is blind to what Hezbollah is doing.” In any other walk of life this utter failure to fulfill a mission would be a sackable offence. At the UN, it seems, incompetence is not an obstacle to job security. If we are to avert the disaster of war in Lebanon, the following is clear: bleary-eyed Beary must go and be replaced by someone who can see what’s under their nose. Unless he’s replaced by Elmer Fudd, that would be an immediate prerequisite to improving UNIFIL’s effectiveness.
Apart from the fact that another war between Israel and Lebanon would take a terrible human toll in Israel and naturally an even greater one in Lebanon, it is crucial to understand that UNIFIL’s success or failure are not only an Israeli problem, but a much more important regional one. Hezbollah’s ability to roam freely in Southern Lebanon emboldens it everywhere else. The same weaponry stockpiled for use against Israel is also used in the genocide of the Syrian people. The same missiles stored in thousands of homes in Southern Lebanon ready for deployment against Israel, are being tested on Saudi cities by Hezbollah and another Iranian proxy, the Houtis, in Yemen. The same organization that grows stronger by the day and wealthier through Iranian funding, is now brazen enough to threaten the delicate sectarian system of government set up by the four ethnic groups that dominate Lebanese society.
And it’s not as though Israel is the only one raising its voice about this threat. For the first time in history, there is a coalition that includes the major allies of the United States in the Middle East – Israel, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Jordan. If these countries are working together, and not only behind the scenes, it’s obvious that there is a clear and present danger. Michael Beary’s failure to see that goes beyond overlooking, it’s criminal negligence. With Hezbollah and Iran, the “broken window theory” is alive and kicking. As the world has ignored and UNIFIL has “missed” the small violations that ensued after the war with Israel in 2006 that created the UNIFIL mandate, the crimes committed in the area have grown steadily. While it sadly likely that the UN Security council will fall short of bringing the Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Commissioner Ray Kelly to solve the problem, the Security Council needs a New Year’s resolution – starting with a new competent and determined leadership for UNIFIL.
Amb. Ron Prosor is the former Israeli Ambassador to the UN. He currently heads the Abba Eban Institute for International Diplomacy at the IDC Herzilya.