Friday, August 25, 2006

Lebanon roundup

Lots of stuff happening in Lebanon now.

The French agreed to contribute 2,000 troops to the new, beefed-up UN peacekeeping force, breaking a logjam that had threatened to derail the deployment. European countries eventually pledged to provide a little less than half of the 15,000-man force -- 6,900 troops, including 3,000 Italians and an undisclosed number from other parts of Europe. Another meeting is scheduled for Monday to flesh out the committments.

The bulk of those troops won't arrive for weeks or months, but a small French force of 150 engineers arrived today, and more are expected to trickle in over the coming days.

Israel, meanwhile, is maintaining its blockade of Lebanese ports to prevent resupply of Hezbollah, and wants UN forces to patrol Lebanon's border with Syria for the same reason -- something that Syria objects to. The Lebanese Army, meanwhile, has already deployed troops to that end, trying to close smuggling routes across the Syrian border.

Delays and such aside, the situation continues to look promising. The ceasefire is holding, Lebanon is taking responsibility for its borders, the UN force is developing. ... so far, so good.

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