With the flow of blood largely staunched and the United Nations scrambling to put together a peacekeeping force for southern Lebanon (Globe and Mail), a few glimmers of hope have surfaced in the region. While the UN-mandated cease-fire continued to hold, Hezbollah’s leadership showed no signs it would commit to handing over its arms to the Lebanese government (JPost). As the Christian Science Monitor notes, UN Security Council Resolution 1701 makes no direct mention of Hezbollah disarming although it refers to a past resolution requiring all militias to give up their arms. Some, including CFR Senior Fellow Steven Simon, see the possibility of creating the kind of “decommissioning” system which brought relative peace to Northern Ireland (Daily Star).
Other analysts believe Hezbollah may emerge from this conflict stronger (LAT). A veteran Lebanese political analyst, Michael Young, tells CFR.org’s Bernard Gwertzman a deal among local parties is taking shape in which Hezbollah does not turn over its arms but keeps them hidden away. Among the losers, says Egypt ’s al-Ahram, are the despotic Sunni regimes allied to the United States, including Egypt itself, for failing to support Arab victims of Israeli attacks.
Meanwhile, Israeli forces have pulled out of parts of southern Lebanon and tens of thousands of Lebanese civilians flocked back to their homes, often to find only a pile of rubble (al-Jazeera). But the cease-fire has to be viewed as fragile, notes CFR Senior Fellow Lee Feinstein, particularly since neither Syria nor Iran were involved in the process of concluding it. Another question involves the damage to America’s reputation in the region. In the new issue of the New Yorker, Seymour Hersh alleges Washington involved itself in intimate aspects of the war in south Lebanon, providing broad support politically and satellite and other intelligence for targeting purposes. Among those quoted is Richard Armitage, deputy secretary of state until 2004, who contends this U.S.-Israeli strategy backfired: "The only thing that the bombing has achieved so far is to unite the population against the Israelis." Qatar's foreign minister, Sheik Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani, tells Newsweek the war did inestimable damage to America's already battered regional reputation.
For deeper reading, the Congressional Research Service offers this backgrounder on the conflict. CFR.org provides Backgrounders on the history of international intervention forces in the Mideast, as well as the many failed efforts to legislate a solution to the conflict at the United Nations. MSNBC.com's side-by-side satellite photos demonstrate the damage sustained in one Beirut neighborhood. The BBC rounds up the positions and interests of the different parties with a stake in the conflict.