Segunda-feira, 6 de Setembro de 2010

UNIFIL, Portugal and Lebanon

By Diogo Noivo

 

On August 30, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously approved resolution 1937, which extends UNIFIL’s mandate until 31 August 2011, saying that its presence in the south of Lebanon helps to promote stability. The UNSC assesses the situation in Lebanon as “a threat to international peace and security” thus justifying the need for one more year.

In fact, in the weeks that preceded resolution 1937, two episodes clearly drew  attention to how unstable peace is in the country.

First, it was the cutting down of a three by Israel Defense Forces in the border with Lebanon, with lead Lebanon’s Armed Forces to clash with the Israeli soldiers. This episode killed three people, raised tension between both countries and led many to speculate about a new armed conflict.

Second, it was the aftershock of UN’s Special Tribunal for Lebanon indication that Hezbollah was the most probable actor behind the assassination of Rafik Hariri.

Aside from the aforementioned cases, the region’s political instability is, by itself, more than enough to justify permanent attention by the international community – specially in times like these, with ongoing Mideast Peace Talks and with Iran’s situation becoming increasingly more dangerous.

As a committed member of the UN, Portugal has 146 soldiers deployed in Lebanon – five at headquarters and the remaining from an engineering unit – in a demonstration of the role Lisbon wishes to maintain as an international security provider. Furthermore, taking part in international operations can give greater leverage to Portugal in international forums, thus increasing its political capability – a fact that Portugal also has in mind. However, to develop this dimension, Lisbon should be more determined in its logistic and human support, without which it will be difficult to assure the command of international operations or, in a very timely case, maintain important international facilities such as NATO’s base in Oeiras – either to disappear or to lose relevance in the next NATO Summit to be held in Lisbon this year.

 

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