UN Renews South Lebanon Observers Mission, With Troop Cuts

US insisted on cut after failing to get substantial changes to mandate

Efforts to change the mandate of UNIFIL observer force in Southern Lebanon have failed, and the UN has renewed the mandate more or less as it was already operating. The lone change was a symbolic reduction to maximum troop levels from 15,000 to 13,000.

Israel wanted the UNIFIL mandate changed to make it a force to fight against Hezbollah. The US demanded Israel get its way, and threatened to cancel the mandate outright if the UN didn’t do so. Lebanon objected to this, and no such changes were added to the mandate.

The US threats of canceling the mandate didn’t happen, either. Instead, the US insisted on the 15,000 to 13,000 cut. This was meaningless at any rate, because only 10,500 UNIFIL troops are deployed at this point anyhow, and there was no expectation to approach the old cap.

The mission is being given access to tunnels discovered along the Blue Line, which is one changed, but it is not being authorized to pick fights with Hezbollah.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.