UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Do More Harm Than Good

With its size, budget, and remit greatly expanded following the 2006 war between Israel and Hizballah, the United Nations International Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is tasked with keeping both sides’ forces out of the southern portion of the country. While the IDF has indeed abided by the armistice, UNIFIL has failed spectacularly at compelling Hizballah to do the same. Eugene Kontorovich argues that, unless the peacekeeping force can be reorganized so as to be effective, it would be better to scrap it, or at the very least reduce its size:

UNIFIL . . . is not fulfilling its mandate to disarm Hizballah. Instead, it serves as Hizballah’s de-facto human shield, limiting the IDF’s freedom to maneuver in a potential conflict. The organization is expensive and bloated compared to other peacekeeping missions around the world, has had significant mission creep, and like other UN entities, it is biased against Israel.

Over the past decade, Hizballah has dug a series of attack tunnels into Israeli territory right under UNIFIL peacekeepers’ noses, with the intention of sending thousands of militants to seize control of Israeli villages adjacent to the [border] fence and to perpetrate spectacular atrocities. . . . When Israeli soldiers were kidnapped from Mount Dov in 2000, UNIFIL soldiers observed and recorded the event without intervening or alerting Israel.

If UNIFIL’s mandate is not extended at the end of the month by the Security Council, its mission will end immediately. However, unlike most UN agencies, UNIFIL could also be reorganized. The mandate renewal—which cannot happen over a U.S. veto—gives the United States considerable leverage to push for sustainable reforms of the organization.

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Read more at Kohelet

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy, United Nations

 

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin