On the eve of the mandate of international force operating in the south “UNIFIL” -under Resolution 1701- expiration, on August 31, Lebanon submitted its official request to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, for a new year extension of the mandate, without any change in its mission or number. In this regard, diplomatic sources told “Sawt Beirut International” that there are low profile international contacts vis a vis the “UNIFIL,” and the necessity of continuing its mission in the south in order to maintain a climate of stability in the region.
However, contacts will not intensify until next August, with the approach of the UN Security Council’s session, which is supposed to be convened during the last week of August, and will be devoted to vote on the extension draft resolution.
The sources say that, as every year, France will present the draft extension decision to the Security Council next month, and accordingly, consultations will intensify among the member states ahead of the voting session. Lebanon, which might be subjected to Israeli pressure, for expanding “UNIFIL’s” mission- although any such amendment would require regional-international conditions that are different from the conditions that prevailed in Resolution 1701, and still exist until now- will be joining the consultations at this stage.
The United States informed Lebanon that the continuation of digging tunnels in the south is unacceptable, and that it is the government’s duty to control matters. And as Washington wants from UNIFIL’s mission and area of operation to include the border tunnels, Lebanon keeps a firm stance on renewal of “UNIFIL” but at the same basis without any change in its budget as well.
Sources add that the Americans are demanding an active role for UNIFIL, to include Hezbollah’s weapons, as to be monitored and banned from reaching south, so the international force’s role will not be restricted to just maintaining stability in the south.
It is hard for the Americans to amend the mission the way Washington desires, add the sources, for this requires a new decision from the Security Council. And in light of the regional developments and the American, Russian current relations, Russia will use it veto against any such amendment, and so will China, and thus, it will not pass, as it needs the majority of voices and be free of any vetoes.
Sources also exclude that Washington would vote against the extension decision, if it cannot amend the mission, because any such refusal, means endangering Lebanon and the region. Of course, this will not happen, but rather the Americans insist on maintaining stability in the south, and supports all what serve this goal, specially in light of the dire economic and political situations Lebanon is witnessing, and it is important to preserve the international peace and security derived from the south.