Nikki Haley Hammers UN Peacekeeping Force For Concealing Hezbollah Rearmament

United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks to reporters at U.N. headquarters, Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks to reporters at U.N. headquarters, Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley says UNIFIL Commander, Irish Major General Michael Beary, can’t tell sh** from Shinola. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

On Friday, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley stripped the hide from the commander of the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), a Irish general named Major General Michael Beary (as an aside, the entire regular establishment of the Irish Army is basically a reinforced brigade in a real army) over the torrent of Iranian supplied weapons flowing into Hezbollah occupied south Lebanon–the very area that UNIFIL is supposed to keep demilitarized.

First a little background.

UNIFIL was created by UN Security Council Resolutions 425 and 426 in 1978 as part of the agreement that led to an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon. It comprises approximately 10,000 troops from 40 (give or take) nations. This is how it is deployed:

unifil

To say its record is spotty is an understatement. I’m willing to acknowledge that it has been dealt a very bad hand but UNIFIL has been accused of passing on information about Israeli troop movements to Hezbollah, it has seemingly let its forces become human shields for Hezbollah firing rockets at Israel, and, given the fact that Hezbollah hasn’t kidnapped UNIFIL soldiers or attacked their positions, one can assume that there is a great deal of collaboration, uh, coordination between UNIFIL and Hezbollah.

One of the side effects of the civil war in Syria is that Hezbollah areas in Lebanon have become saturated with weapons and with armed Hezbollah troops, all in violation of UNIFIL’s mission and UN Security Council Resolutions. And Hezbollah is not even discreet about it. Back in April, Hezbollah hosted a MEDIA TOUR to showcase the deployment of their troops on the border with Israel.

Recently, various nations have documented Iran building underground weapons factories in the UNIFIL area.

Nikki Haley is well aware of this and she’s also very aware of the willful blindness of UNIFIL, in general, and Beary (which, apropos of nothing, is a great name for an Irish soldier), in particular. Back in July, she visited the Israel-Lebanon border and met the general.

Kibbutz Misgav Am was chosen as the observation point where the ambassador received detailed explanations of the entire zone. The kibbutz is located on the fence along the border between Israel and Lebanon. [Commander of the 91st Division, Brig. Gen. Amir] Baram explained to Haley that the kibbutz’ fence is actually the border fence as marked by the UN after the withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from southern Lebanon in 2000. According to sources who participated in the meeting, Haley was astonished when she learned that normal, everyday life characterizes the Israeli kibbutz on the border fence. The other side of the fence is where Hezbollah militants patrol. At this point, Baram whipped out Security Council Resolution 1701 that had been adopted at the conclusion of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, and read it out aloud. The resolution states that Hezbollah militants are not to be south of the Litani River. Then Haley was given intelligence information that Israel had collected in the recent year. In addition, via the special observation instruments brought there, Haley was able to discern observation points erected by Hezbollah along the length of the Lebanese border, camouflaged as a green environmental organization for nature protection.

At exactly this stage, the UNIFIL commander, Irish Maj. Gen. Michael Beary, arrived. Haley asked the general for his response to the information she received, and explained to him that she saw with her own eyes how Hezbollah militants are clearly present south of the Litani — areas where the Security Council resolution forbids them to have a presence. And UNIFIL is the body that is supposed to enforce this resolution. The general denied the information, and then a heated argument ensued between Beary and [Israeli Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Aviv] Kochavi — all this, in front of the American ambassador.

“We have a terrible crisis with UNIFIL,” a senior IDF officer told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “Now, when the word is out and the whole world has seen the pictures, it will be impossible to deny Hezbollah’s violations any longer. Unfortunately, UNIFIL assists Hezbollah in whitewashing the truth. Under the current state of affairs, there is no point for UNIFIL battalions to remain on the scene. They cause more harm than good. They do what Hezbollah tells them to do. They don’t dare raise their heads and carry out their duties, so the appropriate thing now is for them to vacate the premises.” Several days later, the UN denied the Israeli information; this only served to heighten the distrust between the sides.

On Wednesday, the UN Security Council held a meeting on the subject and Haley let her displeasure be known:

Today, the UN Security Council held consultations on the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). Since 2006, UNIFIL’s deployment to southern Lebanon was supposed to make sure that Hizballah would no longer use this territory to stockpile weapons that could destabilize the region. Today, Hizballah openly boasts about its illegal stockpile of weapons and publicly threatens Israel’s destruction. In April, Hizballah fighters showed off their weapons on a tour for journalists – posing for photographs with their weapons just a few kilometers from UNIFIL’s headquarters.

“UNIFIL has a vitally important mission. Regrettably, it is not pursuing its mission aggressively, and the security situation in southern Lebanon has become much more dangerous. The Security Council cannot adopt a business-as-usual approach when so much is at stake. We call on the members of the Security Council to join us in taking real action to make UNIFIL a stronger peacekeeping mission and to stand up against forces of terror in Lebanon and around the region,” said Ambassador Haley.

On Friday, she returned to the subject of Hezbollah and UNIFIL’s duplicity:

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley sharply criticized the U.N. peacekeeping commander in Lebanon on Friday, saying he is “blind” to the spread of illegal arms and reiterating a call for the force to do more about it. He says there’s no evidence it’s actually happening.

With the peacekeeping mission up for renewal next week, the United States has been pressing to step up efforts to tackle what Haley describes as a “massive flow of illegal weapons” to Hezbollah-dominated southern Lebanon, where neighboring Israel has long complained that the militant group operates with impunity.

But the peacekeeping commander, Maj. Gen. Michael Beary, pushed back this week on U.S. and Israeli criticism. The Irish general told The Associated Press that his force has no evidence of weapons being illegally transferred and stockpiled in the area, and that “if there was a large cache of weapons, we would know about it.”

But Haley said there’s plenty of evidence including Hezbollah’s own boasts and Beary displayed “an embarrassing lack of understanding of what’s going on.”

“He seems to be the only person in south Lebanon who is blind to what Hezbollah is doing,” she said, adding that his view of the situation “shows that we need to have changes” in the mission.

And this via the AP:

But the peacekeeping commander, Maj. Gen. Michael Beary, pushed back this week on U.S. and Israeli criticism. The Irish general told The Associated Press that his force has no evidence of weapons being illegally transferred and stockpiled in the area, and that “if there was a large cache of weapons, we would know about it.”

But Haley said there’s plenty of evidence including Hezbollah’s own boasts and Beary displayed “an embarrassing lack of understanding of what’s going on.”

“He seems to be the only person in south Lebanon who is blind to what Hezbollah is doing,” she said, adding that his view of the situation “shows that we need to have changes” in the mission.

(That brings to mind this great scene from Patton, it begins at 3:40)

The fact is that Beary is lying through his teeth trying to maintain a multi-generational lie that UNIFIL is anything but a fig leaf for Hezbollah and a welfare program for minor armies to keep men on the books at UN expense. Right now, UNIFIL acts as human shields for Hezbollah. A reckoning is coming and a responsible Security Council will not want the cannon fodder that is UNIFIL caught between Israel and Iran.