The U.N. resolution that paved the way for the truce calls for Hezbollah's disarmament. So, for that matter, does an earlier, long-ignored resolution. But the terms for giving up the weaponry are vague. And as a prominent party in the Lebanese government, Hezbollah will have a hand in deciding how and whether the language translates into fact.If anything, analysts say, the war has worsened Lebanon's underlying instability, bolstering Hezbollah at the expense of more moderate, secular figures in government. "Most of the government really thought that Hezbollah could be trimmed by the Israelis, and that would give them less of a problem," said Judith Palmer Harik, a Hezbollah expert. "But it didn't work out that way, and now there's nothing they can do, in my opinion, to get Hezbollah away from doing what it wants."This is a victorious group. Do they want to be disarmed at this point?" Harik said. "That is such a nonstarter."I just can't muster enthusiasm over the prospects for Lebanon, Israel or the entire region. More lack of excitement here:
For the moment, Hezbollah is bathed in a heroic light, not just in Lebanon but throughout the Muslim world. Lebanon's prime minister, Fouad Siniora, appears unable or unwilling to force the issue of Hezbollah's disarmament, at least in the south, as called for in the UN Security Council resolution that halted the combat. Whether Hezbollah intends to let its fighters be banned from the kingdom it built for itself in southern Lebanon, with the lavish help of Iran and Syria, is another open question.
The Security Council appears to have done its best to promote the interests of Lebanon and to diminish Hezbollah's hold over the slice of the country between the Litani River and the Israeli border. But the council has passed far-reaching resolutions on Lebanon before - especially Resolution 1559, in September 2004, which called for the disbanding of Hezbollah's fighting force and all other militias and the extension of Lebanese government control over the entire country. That resolution had no enforcement mechanism and was largely ignored.
After 34 days of warfare, the latest resolution, No. 1701, repeats the goals of No. 1559 but provides more teeth, including a more robust UN force of up to 15,000 soldiers. It is supposed to patrol a specific southern demilitarized zone and help the government monitor its borders, ensuring that Iran and Syria do not resupply Hezbollah with rockets, missiles and ammunition. But will it be effective? And what soldiers will be in it? When will they arrive? And will the force be willing to confront Hezbollah? Or, as many Israelis expect, will it allow Hezbollah to remain in southern Lebanon unimpeded so long as the border appears quiet?