Sunday, August 20, 2006

ME peacekeeping : clarity of thinking needed

According to Defence Minister Najib (left), Malaysia " has not received the UN's confirmation" for approval to send peacekeeping force to the Israel-Lebanon border. But, he also reportedly said that if the UN does not approve its participation, Malaysia would find "another way" to assist Lebanon because Lebanon always welcomes the presence of Malaysian "peacekeepers".

Foreign Minister Syed Hamid (left) was also reported as saying that, it is the United Nation, not Israel, that decides if Malaysian soldiers would be allowed to particpate in a UN-controlled peacekeeping force in the Middle Eastern region. Earlier, Syed Hamid Albar made public call for OIC countries to consider supply arms to Hezbollah. Let us examine these statements rationally and logically:

(1) First, if Malaysian troops are sent to Lebanon without UN's sanction and Israel's acceptance, the Malaysian troops, which can only operate on the Lebanese terrotory, will not and cannot be termed as 'peacekeeping' but part of the allied forces of Lebanon and/or Hezbollah. Bearing in mind that the earlier public and official statement made by Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar calling on OIC countries to supply arms to Hezbollah, Malaysia's position could technically be construed as being at war with Israel (whether Israel's cause of war or jus ad bellum and its conduct of war or jus in bello are just or otherwise), and the chances of Malaysia's men and women in uniform being put in harm's way increase correspondingly;

(2) Second, although it is true that it is the United Nations which finally decides whether a country's armed forces can participate in a UN peacekeeping forces, it is only prudent for the UN to first obtain the prior consensus of both Lebanon as well as Israel on the national affiliation and composition of the force so as to establish the legitimacy of the peacekeeping force as both impartial and neutral in the conflict; otherwise, the UN and its peacekeeping force would be perceived as biased and potentially partisan.

(3) Third, there is also a serious need for PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to publicly clarify whether the call, made by Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar, to OIC countries to supply arms to Hezbollah, was a Malaysian cabinet decision that officially represents the position of Malaysia as a country, or something else.

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Malaysia readies 1,000 soldiers for Lebanon

Syed Hamid: OIC nations should arm Hezbollah

M'sian journalists detained, quizzed by Hezbollah

KL to send troops despite Israel's protest

Participation in peace force 'up to UN, not Israel'


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