[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The UNIFIL commander and the Lebanese Defense Minister share compliments; but do they share responsibilities?
On his first official tour of South Lebanon since assuming office, Defense Minister Elias Bou-Saab met with the UNIFIL commander Del Col. Both discussed the mandate of UNIFIL and the collaboration with the Lebanese Army. Bou-Saab stated his appreciation of the work being conducted by the UNIFIL commander. The UNIFIL commander hailed the visit, claiming that this shows the commitment of the Lebanese Government in abiding by the UNSCR 1701.
Despite the formalities, Bou-Saab is already looking ahead to the day after the UN decides to end the mission. The Defense Minister stated that there are five thousand Lebanese soldiers south of the Letani River, while the UNIFIL forces numbers amount to ten thousand soldiers. According to the minister, for the Lebanese government to securely control its border on its own, it will need to recruit ten thousand new soldiers. And thus, the minister encouraged the Lebanese people to recruit into the army.
Until that day comes, there is one massively significant question that remains unanswered. Who is effectively in charge of disarming Hezbollah in south Lebanon? Since meanwhile no one is doing it.
Each side has traditionally claimed that it is its job is to support the other in carrying out this mission – whether this crucial point was a topic of discussion in the meeting between the UNIFIL commander and the defense minister is unclear and even more alarmingly, unlikely. The UNIFIL official publication of the meeting did not even mention the issue of illegal weapons in south Lebanon.
Photo from unifil.unmissions.org here.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]