Friday, June 29, 2007

UN Secretary-General shows a bit of backbone

Ban Ki-Moon has shown a willingness to do things Kofi Annan never could, like point out obvious facts of basic reality.

In a report to the Security Council on implementation of the resolution that ended last summer's 34-day war between Israel and Hezbollah, Ban said the reports "constitute a major impediment to the establishment of a permanent cease-fire and a long-term solution" that would bring peace to Lebanon.

The report was issued three days after a U.N.-appointed team said security along the Lebanon-Syria border is insufficient to prevent arms smuggling and Lebanon should quickly establish a mobile force to intercept any flow of weapons.

In the latest report, Ban said Lebanon informed him that on June 6, four trucks were seen by the Lebanese armed forces traveling from Al-Kafeer in Syria to Lebanon, ultimately to an outpost of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian in Jabal al-Maaysara. Each truck carried two vehicles mounted with 40-barrel rocket launchers, he said.

At the same time, he said, Israel claims Syria and Iran are transferring "sophisticated weaponry" across the Lebanon-Syria border every week, including long-range rockets, anti-tank and anti-aircraft defense systems. Israel says this has enabled Hezbollah "to rearm to the same levels as before last year's war or beyond," but has not provided evidence, he said.

Syria "has denied any involvement in effecting breaches of the arms embargo," Ban said.

Nonetheless, the secretary-general said, Syria, Iran and other regional states "have a particular responsibility to ensure that the provisions related to the arms embargo" in the August 2006 resolution that ended the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict are fully respected.

"The Syrian Arab Republic, in particular, has a shared responsibility in controlling its borders with Lebanon ... including in safeguarding against breaches of the arms embargo," Ban said.

He'll need to go a bit farther than naming and shaming Syria and Iran, though -- everyone already knew they were up to no good, and neither of them is capable of shame. However, it's generally true that members of the Security Council don't like to see their resolutions baldly flouted. Ban may be able to get Ruaaia and China to see that Syria and Iran are making these would-be superpowers lose face.

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