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Commentary Last Updated: Sep 20th, 2006 - 01:13:32

Lebanon should say no to German troops

By Linda S. Heard
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Sep 20, 2006, 01:05

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For historical reasons, Germany is reluctant for its troops to be placed in a position where they could end up fighting Jews. Yet it seems the German government has no such compunction when it comes to facing off against Lebanese.

Following an agreement by the German cabinet for the deployment of warships off Lebanon last Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "This decision was made in view both of our particular responsibility for Israel's right to exist and for a solid solution for peace in the region."

Germany is further considering sending 2,400 military personnel to beef up the UNIFIL force and there are German security experts based at Beirut Airport.

When one takes into account Merkel's speedy defence of the pope's recent speech that disparages the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and Islam and her close relationship with Israel's main ally, the United States, then Lebanon should be very wary of German participation in the United Nations contingent.

If Merkel is keen to protect Israel's right to exist, then German ships should weigh anchor off Haifa and any German soldiers should be barracked on the Israeli side of the border.


Merkel's eagerness to protect Israel is surely an insult to Lebanon which has just lost 1,300 citizens to Israeli aggression and seen half the country destroyed. This is not an exaggeration if one believes the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's proud boast recently before a Knesset committee. He boasted: "The claim that we lost [the war] is unfounded. Half of Lebanon is destroyed; is that a loss?"

The new look UNIFIL is charged with assisting the Lebanese army in keeping the peace under the terms of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, yet, UNIFIL has proposed that its planes carrying weapons should be allowed to land in Lebanon without prior approval from the Lebanese authorities.

Put simply, off Lebanon's coast there is moored a flotilla of French, Italian, Greek and British ships with German craft on the way, all ostensibly to deter arms shipments to the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah.

In the south of the country, Israel is building a fence on Lebanese land, while some 15,000 UNIFIL troops are expected to patrol the area between the border and the Litani River.

At the same time, Syria is coming under pressure to allow EU border guards along the frontier between it and north Lebanon. Israel says its complete withdrawal from Lebanon is conditional on this border being secured, while Congress is withholding promised US aid to Lebanon until UNIFIL troops are sent to the Syrian frontier.

Although UNIFIL is supposed to be in country as a guest of Lebanon to assist its troops, UNIFIL's commander General Alain Pellegrini told the French newspaper La Croix that should the Lebanese army fail to act "we must assume our responsibilities as a UN force." Oh dear! What does that mean?

UNIFIL is looking more and more like a Trojan horse, ready to rob Lebanon of its hard fought sovereignty in order to protect its neighbour and foe. And while there is a worldwide consensus that Israel lost the conflict militarily, the West is poised to hand Israel much more than a consolation prize.

Indeed, the US State Department has already altered its initial assessment of the war and is now terming it an Israeli success.

US Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Resolution 1701 "would more than meet our standard of no return to the status quo." There is also talk of additional UN resolutions being put before the UN Security Council to firm up 1701.

If, as some pundits have suggested, Israel undertook this war of choice in reaction to Hezbollah's killing and abduction of its soldiers as a prelude to a possible attack on Iran, then Israel's objectives have been achieved.

In the event the US goes ahead with its alleged plans to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities, it will no longer have to worry about its ally Hezbollah retaliating against Israel.

New obligations

More, UNIFIL's new obligations allows participating countries to build up an armada of warships in the Eastern Mediterranean, some of which could be used to refuel US fighter jets en route to Iran or, alternatively, would be well positioned to enter the Suez Canal en route to the Gulf.

Hezbollah is particularly vulnerable given the Western penchant for false flag operations. What is to prevent Israel or a US ally from launching a missile, saying it emanated from Hezbollah and thus gaining a pretext to attack and disarm the Lebanese resistance in "self-defence"?

This would, of course, be a disaster for Lebanon, inflaming sectarian divisions, splintering the Lebanese army and perhaps even bringing down the pro-western Lebanese government.

For its own protection, Lebanon should push to have Resolution 1701 amended to contain a proviso that Lebanon has full authority to accept or reject nations participating in UNIFIL.

The first to go should be Britain for refusing to call for an immediate ceasefire, followed by Germany due to its obvious pro-Israel bias. Lebanon has enough to contend with without having to put up with potential adversaries in country masquerading as friends.

Linda S. Heard is a British specialist writer on Middle East affairs. She welcomes feedback and can be contacted by email at

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