Remember Lebanon?

It sometimes seems that the mainstream media doesn’t. The intense focus on which countries would man the U.N. peacekeeping force (UNIFIL) in southern Lebanon and what its mission would be has almost entirely faded. Here’s a look at some recent developments: The French general commanding the force is sanguine that he’s got the troops he needs, or soon ...

By , a professor at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies.
606555_unifil5.jpg
606555_unifil5.jpg

It sometimes seems that the mainstream media doesn't. The intense focus on which countries would man the U.N. peacekeeping force (UNIFIL) in southern Lebanon and what its mission would be has almost entirely faded. Here's a look at some recent developments:

The French general commanding the force is sanguine that he's got the troops he needs, or soon will. And he offered up good news on the weapons front as well.

When asked about arms-smuggling in his session with reporters, the major general said UNIFIL had no evidence of any weapons smuggling from Syria and had also not found any illegal weapons inside the mission's area of operations.

It sometimes seems that the mainstream media doesn’t. The intense focus on which countries would man the U.N. peacekeeping force (UNIFIL) in southern Lebanon and what its mission would be has almost entirely faded. Here’s a look at some recent developments:

The French general commanding the force is sanguine that he’s got the troops he needs, or soon will. And he offered up good news on the weapons front as well.

When asked about arms-smuggling in his session with reporters, the major general said UNIFIL had no evidence of any weapons smuggling from Syria and had also not found any illegal weapons inside the mission’s area of operations.

Israel may be about to pull out of the one village it still occupies. Turkish peacekeepers have arrived. Drainage pipes briefly created tension between the Lebanese and Israeli armies but it was soon doused. The euro is challenging the dollar as southern Lebanon caters to the needs of peacekeepers.

In the coastal village of Naqoura, French soldiers casually shop outside the U.N. force’s main base without combat helmets or body armor. At a hotel 30 miles northeast, their Spanish comrades walk into the bar, offer an Arabic greeting and order sodas.

All is not quiet, however. France and Israel are bickering over the issue of Israeli overflights. Israel contends that it will continue flying through Lebanese airspace until its kidnapped soldiers are returned. For its part, France is worried about an accident:

[French defense minister] Alliot-Marie said the overflights were “extremely dangerous” because French-led UNIFIL peacekeepers on the ground could see them as hostile acts and fire in self-defense.

UNIFIL’s French commander hinted last week that force might be necessary to stop the flights. His comments set off a firestorm and were quickly played down by the UN and French diplomats.  

David Bosco is a professor at Indiana University’s Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. He is the author of The Poseidon Project: The Struggle to Govern the World’s Oceans. Twitter: @multilateralist

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