Posted on  by Elijah J Magnier

By Elijah J. Magnier: @ejmalrai

The US had threatened to withdraw its annual financial support of $135 million (27% of the $500 million annual costs) for the 10,000 UNIFIL men deployed in Lebanon unless its mandate was strengthened. The US, at the request of Israel, asked to see the UNIFIL forces disarm Hezbollah and evacuate arms depots in the south of Lebanon. But above all, the US wanted UNIFIL troops to evaluate and inform Israel of the deployment and the accurate location of Hezbollah’s highly trained and experienced Special Operation Forces, called the “Ridwan”, spread along the borders facing the Israeli army. However, this US-Israeli wishful thinking has not been gratified. A series of disappointing events has thwarted Israel-US objectives: the Special Tribunal verdict on the assassination of the former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was considered unsatisfactory by a number of pro-US Lebanese at the time when a (failed) coup d’état was being prepared against the government, the parliament and President Michel Aoun. So what will be the fate of UNIFIL in Lebanon?

The assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005 was followed by a Lebanese domestic uprising against the “Axis of Resistance” and paved the way for the second Israeli war of July 2006, which failed to achieve its objectives. In fact, in 2006, Israel was supported by several Gulf countries led by Saudi Arabia and also by Lebanese political leaders acting as US-proxies, with the aim of fulfilling Israel’s wish to disarm Hezbollah. However, the assassination of Hariri did result in the exit of Syrian forces from Lebanon.

The failure to disarm Hezbollah was followed by another attempt to weaken the organisation when Israel assassinated Hajj Imad Mughnniyah in February 2008. Mughnniyah was Hezbollah’s military commander and the deputy leader of the Jihadi Military Council headed by Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah – Secretary General of “Hezbollah”. However, these assassination tactics did not achieve the hoped for result, and they remind us that attacks against leaders of jihadist organisations can never be an effective way to defeat ideologically motivated groups, especially a highly driven one such as Hezbollah.

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