UN peacekeepers vow to stay in Lebanon
An attack that killed six prompts Lebanon's government to appeal for outside help.
(Page 2 of 2)
But the UNIFIL bombing and the fighting in the north are hardly the only concern for Lebanese civilians, notes The New York Times.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
In the past five weeks alone, since fighting began in the north between the army and militant Islamists holed up in the Nahr al Bared Palestinian refugee camp, at least seven bombs have exploded in Lebanon. Less than two weeks ago, one of those bombs killed an anti-Syrian lawmaker, his son and six others.
"From the north to the south, the whole country is now engaged, and the worst is to come," said Hilal Khashan, a political analyst in Beirut.
Al Jazeera's correspondent in Lebanon, Rula Amin, raised questions about how this would affect civilians' sense of security, asking, "If the attack was indeed the work of al-Qaeda inspired militants, are the targets going to be confined to Unifil or will there be civilian targets as well? Will the attacks be in the south or will they extend to the capital?"
UNIFIL draws its peacekeepers from 30 countries and was first deployed in Lebanon in 1978, according to the Associated Press. The report points out that Spain has 1,100 peacekeepers in Lebanon, roughly 8 percent of UNIFIL's 13,000-member force.
The attack, the first since UNIFIL was reinforced following last year's war, came as the U.N. has become increasingly involved in highly divisive issues in Lebanon, including its tense relations with neighboring Syria. U.N. resolutions have dealt with Lebanon's borders with Israel and Syria, Palestinian guerrillas and Hezbollah weapons, as well as an international tribunal to try the killers of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Following the attacks, Sir Mark Malloch-Brown, a former United Nations deputy secretary-general, gave a speech in which he said that the Iraq war had made the UN and other humanitarian aid organizations targets. The Independent, a British newspaper, reports that Sir Malloch-Brown argued that the Iraq war had harmed humanitarian intervention efforts.
In a speech in London tonight, Sir Mark Malloch-Brown will say: "The brutal truth is politics is making it harder and harder to serve victims' needs by reaching them with assistance or bearing witness to their suffering and thereby staying the hand of those who would harm them."
Speaking about Sudanese President General Omar al-Bashir's rejection of US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair's request to install UN forces in Darfur because of their role in the Iraq war, Malloch-Brown said, "I have watched the work I used to do get steadily more dangerous as it is seen as serving Western interests rather than universal values."