Tuesday, September 05, 2006

French sending in the heavy equipment

The French don't appear to be too optimistic about the stability of the cease fire in Lebanon. According to certain press reports, they're sending in heavy equipment along with their troops into Southern Lebanon. The "package" includes heavy tanks and radar designed to track the source of artillery fire. The AP reports,

France is quietly preparing to play a tougher role in the strengthened U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon, rolling out hefty tanks, powerful artillery, and sophisticated radar systems to pinpoint artillery launch sites.

French Leclerc tanks will be some of the mightiest vehicles deployed under the U.N. flag - an answer to critics who have moaned about toothless, ineffectual U.N. peacekeeping deployments over the years.

...

Heavy armor such as the Leclerc is not typically part of the force deployment package for a U.N. peacekeeping operation, although battle tanks have been used in past missions. Attack helicopters, for example, have been deployed for the biggest U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo.

Thirteen Leclerc tanks were expected to arrive by rail from central France to the port of Toulon early Wednesday, before being sent across the Mediterranean to Lebanon in the next several days.

...

France is also sending four 155mm surface-to-surface AUF1 canons, with a range of up to 17 miles, plus armored vehicles, short-range anti-aircraft missiles, and Cobra radar which can pinpoint artillery fire in a range of up to 25 miles.
The sad reality on the ground in Lebanon is that there isn't really a resolution to any of the crises that the country currently faces. Everything appears to be hanging in limbo, and this UN force only serves to emphasize that point. Whereas the "national dialogue" proved to be nothing more than a farce, at least Lebanese had a sense that a political solution to the deadlock was possible. Today... even that fragile but valuable mirage has dissipated.

22 comments:

wolfson said...

I keep reading about this so-called UNIFIL force that is supposed to hold the peace in Lebanon, and it just makes no sense to me.
Muslim nations that do not recognize Israel's right to exist are sending soldiers to south Lebanon. I seriously doubt that they will prevent Hizballa from rearming with rockets, guns etc. And now the French are coming with 155mm surface-to-surface AUF1 canons, with a range of up to 17 miles, and Cobra radar which can pinpoint artillery fire in a range of up to 25 miles. We all know that hizballa do not poses artillery. On top of that they are bringing short-range anti-aircraft missiles. We also know that Hizballa do not have airplanes.
We all know that the real danger to peace between Israel and Lebanon is Hizballa, yet this UN force looks more like it is geared to fight Israel and not Hizballa.

Raja said...

wolfson, two points: 1st, a peace keeping/enforcing mission ought to have the capability to at least defend itself from both sides of the conflict.

2nd, what do you think Hizballah has been using to fight the Israelis? They are armed with mortars, katyushas, and UAVs.

I doubt short range anti-aircraft missiles are effective against F-16s.

solomonpal said...

and 3d...If the French so much as laid a hand on the Israelis the US would hand them their head on a platter

abubalboola2 said...

I'm actually not concerned about the radar range or the missiles types.
The attitude of the French has been "inappropriate" in gentle words.
They gave the rhetorics of ones who are going to lead the force, yet when the dealine arrived they shyed back in their corner.
This sympton has occured before with the French.
So turning the look toward the future, such an attitude could have negative effect on the motivation of the Frech soldiers sent to Lebanon.
Argueing over can that or that missile be used agains the Israeli army is somehow a futile discussion. 1st, it is based on a false assumption that Israel would like to make a secondary assault.The mere presence of an international force is an initial good outcome as far as Israel is concerned.
Will that force disarm Hizballa? Likely not. Hopefully this will happen through an internal Lebanese process.
(I am making a strong assumption that while I dont know where this process can come from, Lebanese people can see it coming).

abubalboola2 said...

Reiterating my question (but more clearly):

Could one of the Lebanese bloggers please give his opinion on how and when can the Hizballa be disarmed?

francois said...

well according to some sources, it s not disarm the hezbollah

hezbollah as we all know is having air fighters so the SATP radar and its anti aircraft system is useless against it.

i m not interested by the ground operations with the leclerc, the amx 10 tanks to be deployed or the artillery

i m more interested by the air abilities of this UNIFUL which can be seen as a force to prevent israeli violations of the lebanese "airspace" or as a deployment of forces to prevent the future impact of a potential conflit btw the US/israel vs iran next november as some sources indicate/

another interesting point is the moderation of nasrallah in his latest speeches and today the safir interview shows it again.
nasrallah doesnt push the advantages he gained from the last conflict, besides that some informations are underlining some dissenssions btw hezbolland iran, so the right question that might be answered with time would be: is hezbollah lebanising its policies?

francois said...

by the way in that interview if i understood it well, in case of israeli violation , nasrallah said that it s the lebanese army and the UNIFUL to answer this time and not his organization

is it as well related to this heavy equipement sent?

Dimitry said...

Heavy equipement or not heavy equipement, if the UNIFIL force would do anything more significant than cliping their nails, i'll find every hat in my house and eat them all.

kachumbali said...

1st: the UNIFIL-forces are not supposed to or able to disarm Hizballah; they will not attempt it, but they might strike back if Hizballah fires on Israel (hence the radar able to spot&pinpoint Katyushas and other ballistic weapons) or defend themselves adequately.

2nd: The French seem to have made the decision never again to be embarassed&helpless as it happened in the Balkans in the mid-90s with a French contingent taken hostage on a UN-mission. I guess if push comes to shove, the French will take the UN-mandate, shove it some attackers backside and use their Leclercs and Artillery to cause some serious trouble, even in violation of the ROEs.

3rd: Air contingents will not be put under UNIFIL mandate, but might be based on French carriers or Cyprus and remain under the control of NATO/national govs. Different ROES that way...I am not sure, however, if UNIFIL is going to get some cavallery...

4th: UNIFIL and other int. contingents in the region are not there to help Lebanese go to the toilet, as Aoun put it, but to secure the border and guarantee Israels safety, as the Lebanese gov is unable to do so. Hizballah's disarmament would be one of those 'toilet' cases where Lebanese depend on themselves mainly, and have to use their own two hands...

Honestly, I guess the Lebanese 'cabin' will get pretty crowded with Syrian mukhabarat, different Iranians, CIA, Mossad, BND, FSB and others trying to help out and hold the toilet paper, dry your hands and sweep the floor...and hopefully somehow get Hizballah to properly sit down and stop p**ing all over the place...

Solomon2 said...

but they might strike back if Hizballah fires on Israel

And accept the same dilemma Israel faced - that striking the Katyusha launchers means killing civilians, because Hezbollah chooses to fire its weapons near hospitals and schools? And risk being branded by the Arab world as an enemy?

The question is, once the rockets start firing again will U.N. troops act to stop the IDF from retaliation? That would make U.N. forces far more formidable protection for Hezbollah's rocket launchers than Hezbollah's own forces had ever been.

This war isn't over yet. It is being fought every day at a lower level. Who will betray whom next?

Sherri said...

solomomon2,

Israel deliberately targeted civilian villages and Beirut suburbs where Shiite Muslims resided. Defending oneself from attack is not the same as the deliberate targeting of civilians Israel engaged in. The last count I read was that so far five cases for war crimes have been filed against Israel, all outside Lebanon.

I think the international force will have a much bigger challenge preventing Israeli abuses of the cease fire, such as Israel's constant violations of Lebanon air space. Will they shoot down the planes Israel uses to violate Lebanese airspace? The international force is being deployed to maintain peace between the two countries, not to fight a war for Israel.

Dimitry said...

Defending oneself from attack is not the same as the deliberate targeting of civilians Israel engaged in.

Well of course. AI and HRW are experts, and if they say IDF had quotas of fryed civilian flesh to meet, then it must be true.

However, I agree with you that if the Internation Force will do something at all, it would be to supply cover for HA to kill Israelis.

chuck said...

solomon2,

u see what u do ?
u turn sherri on everytime u mention "Israel" and "civilians" in one sentence.

i think we already passed the point of dissarming hisballa. hisballa won't be dissarmed in the near future. i don't believe the lebanese gov. will do anything to dissarm it and the UN force sure as hell won't try to.

but hisballa will try to find other ways to engage Israel.
i just hope that all this new comming forces try to make sounds like they do intened to at least keep the border with Israel quiet and prevent hisballa from comming near it.

by the way, something that is not so importent, about the Israeli kidnapped famillies who r calling for the Israeli gov. to not take the siege off of lebanon untill at least they will get a sign of life from the kidnaped soldiers.
the gov. in an answer to the families, says it can't help not doing so, because they don' want to take down civilian air plains.

and i heard that Danni Nave from the Israeli gov. has issued a law suite against ahmadinjad's calling for a genocide.

M. Simon said...

Sherri,

So the katyushas were aimed at military targets?

Hizballah didn't build hospitals and civilian housing atop arms bunkers? (which might explain a lot of civilian casualties)

Well OK. I say Hizballah did a great job defending Lebanon. See that they get rearmed.

M. Simon said...

francois,

When Nasserallah thought he was the most powerful man in Lebanon was he moderate?

Might not his current "moderation" be due to a loss of power?

Sherri said...

francois,

You raise some interesting issues. I have read a lot of comments about Hezbullah's radical views and that its primary goal was to destroy Israel. But practically noone cites the source for these quotes and when they do they are quotes from years ago or quotes taken out of context.

When I am finally able to pull up the texts of Nasrallah's numerous speeches and interviews since July 12, I do not see these radical views expressed. I see moderate statements, such as repeated calls for unity among the people of Lebanon, repeated statements to the effect that Hezbullah is working with and not against the Lebanese government, repeated statements to the effect that Hezbullah's goals are to be a defense to Israeli aggression and Israeli occupation and to obtain the release of Lebanese prisoners held in Israel.

I also learn, on my own research, that Hezbullah is considered a legitimate Resistance group by Arab countries and many other countries in the world. Hezbullah is not labelled as a terrorist by the United Nations and is actually only labelled as a "terrorist" by a few countries, the US, Israel, and Canada.

You raise some interesting issues about how the United Nations forces may react to future events. We will just have to see how this plays out.

I'm still wondering if Israel is going to find a way to force United Nations forces or someone else to guard the border between Syria and Lebanon.

Sherri said...

m. simon,

I was not addressing the issue of Hezbullah's firing of rockets into Israel. (But I have read at least one article that argued that they were aiming at military targets). Amnesty International identified the firing of the rockets by Hezbullah as likely a war crime in a July 26 report, because they were fired at civilian populations and were so unsophisticated they could not be targeted at military targets alone.

I have not read of reports of Hezbullah building arms bunkers under hospitals. I heard of tunnels under some houses, but consider that Hezbullah members are also residents of these south Lebanese villages.

The fact that arms may have been in some civilian areas does not justify essentially near complete destruction of Shiite villages in south Lebanon and near complete destruction of the Shiite suburbs in Beirut. I heard the bombing described as carpet bombing, by an activist/legal scholar from the US who was examining the damage in the Shiite Beirut suburb neighborhoods.

I am not supporting the rearming of Hezbullah. I believe the Lebanese government and Hezbullah need to, by dialogue, resolve the issue of the role Hezbullah will play in the future of Lebanon. The United Nations Resolution recognizes the sovereignty of the Lebanese government.

Sherri said...

What is happening with the release of the Israeli soldiers? The last news I heard was that a secret negotiator was working with negotiations between Israel and Hezbullah. They made it sound like something would be happening soon.
Why is there no more news on this?

I have also read some reports that we should expect Al Queda to become involved in south Lebanon soon. Has anyone heard anything about this? Who was responsible for the recent assasination attempt on the police official in Lebanon?

chuck said...

there r no more news of this because they say it was all just media talks. hisaballa was fighting it's psychological war against the kidnapped soldiers families, as allways, trying to give them hope untill they realise it's not real.
the german negotiators said that there has been no progress in the situation and that those alegged talk didn't happened yet.

"I have read at least one article that argued that they (hisballa) were aiming at military targets".

"Amnesty International identified the firing of the rockets by Hezbullah as likely a war crime in a July 26 report".

i'd like to have a link to both those reports.

there is absolutly no question about where hisballa was aiming.
when the rockets hit arab citizens in Israel and caused their deaths, nasralla himself said that he regrets their death and that the rockets r aimed at the zionists.

he even called the arabs in Haifa to leave their homes so that they won't get hit. that doesn't sound like he was planing to attack a military base over there, unless he considered Haifa in total as a military base, and the rest of our towns as well...

saying that there's even a doubt about where hisballa was aiming is just an insault to inteligence. it's like saying, "i read an article saying that they weren't firing rockets, but chockloate candy bars for the hungry people in Israel" !

Sherri said...

chuck,

The article I was referring to about Hezbullah aiming at military targets was either from electroniclebanon or the daily star. I will try to further identify it. I agree with your viewpoint on this.

The July 26 report of Amnesty International that addresses possible war crimes of Israel and Hezbullah is MDE150702006, entitled Israel/Lebanon Israel And Hezbullah Must Spare Civilians Obligations under international humanitarian law of the parties to the conflict in Israel and Lebanon
There are probably Human Rights Watch documents that address the issue too.

I did read another report about the soldiers that said secret negotiations were occurring.

chuck said...

sherri,

there is a lot of dissinformation about the soldiers.
hisballa is known by it's psychological war on the families of kidnapped soldiers, as has already happened before.
so as for now, by arab newspapers, Gilaad Shalit was allready tranfered to ejypt, then he was not, then there were talks about a secret negotiations, then everybody on both sides dissmissed any kind of talks.
so u can't really know what is right and what is not.
we will believe it whne we see Gilad Shalit in Israel with his family.

chuck said...

and ofcourse the 2 other soldiers as well.