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Fuad Siniora's collapse yesterday humiliated his armed forces, the Times of London reports, and demonstrated the illusive grasp of power that the official government holds in Lebanon. The consensus in his Cabinet to accept the cease-fire collapsed when it came time to deploy the army into southern Lebanon:
TODAY was supposed to be the day when the muchmaligned army of Lebanon took control of its borders and policed the UN ceasefire.
Instead, its military commanders were left humiliated and its troops stranded as Hezbollah told them not to try to disarm its fighters.
The first infantry units were preparing to head south yesterday when Hezbollah demonstrated who exercised the real control by announcing that it had no intention of surrendering a single weapon. General Michel Sleiman, the commander-in-chief of the Lebanese Army, and his lieutenants had been invited to join in Cabinet meetings to finalise plans to deploy their 15,000-strong force in a buffer zone south of the Litani river. However, they ended up being lectured by Hezbollah’s two Cabinet ministers in the coalition Government on what the army could and could not do.
The humiliation traveled from the generals to the troops, as everyone understood exactly why their orders to move out got countermanded. Government officials finally gave voice to the conundrum that all of us knew existed during this entire conflict, complaining that the Hezbollah "political party" would not abide by government decisions. Soldiers who have seen 20 of their comrades killed in a war they have neither waged nor wanted had to go back to their barracks after initially receiving the orders that would have given their country back to them.
This national humiliation will not soon be forgotten by the Lebanese. If Hezbollah gained some sympathy and support during the Israeli invasion that they themselves provoked, it has dissipated in this mutinous reaction. The scales have fallen from the eyes of the political class in Beirut, and they see the danger to their existence standing baldly in front of them. Hezbollah has stripped them of their legitimacy, and now their theft of southern Lebanon has become crystal clear.
Will this move the Siniora government to quit blamimg everyone but the terrorists that started the war? As late as Saturday, the PM still talked about the brave "national resistance", but those moments appear to have ended. If Fuad Siniora expects to lead his nation, he now has to acknowledge that Hezbollah cannot exist as a state within a state.
The civil war is coming very soon now.
UPDATE: The army will deploy in 72 hours, one source says, but will not disarm Hezbollah:
Lebanon's communications minister told French radio Monday that the Lebanese army was preparing to cross the Litani River into the troubled south within two or three days, despite uncertainty about a future UN force for the region.
"The Lebanese army is readying itself along the Litani to cross the river in 48 or 72 hours," Marwan Hamade said on Europe-1 radio.
It will then be flanked by "the first contingents of an international force," he added, likely from France, Turkey, Spain and Italy. He did not give a timeframe. ...
Lebanon's ambassador to the UN said that his government would not use force to ensure the dismantling of Hizbullah, sources said early Monday morning. He claimed that Hizbullah would independently be responsible for leaving south Lebanon. ...
Earlier, another Lebanese cabinet minister said that the Lebanese army would not deploy in southen Lebanon if Hizbullah retains its weapons.
The confusion in Beirut continues, but Israel will not leave the area without Hezbollah disarming and the Lebanese/UNIFIL forces assuming control. This cease fire (or cessation) will be short-lived.Sphere It View blog reactions
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» Lebanese Army Humiliated from Liberty and Justice
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