One obvious change allowed within the mandate would be to task the force with monitoring and securing the porous Lebanese-Syrian border, which has become a lawless highway for smugglers, weapons traffickers, and terrorist fighters alike to move in and out of Lebanon with impunity.
Using sensors and drones and in coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces’ Border Security Units, UNIFIL could provide significant deterrence to smuggling and weapons transfers without expanding its mandate or greatly increasing its footprint.
Without a clear plan in place to stop the flow of weapons from Iran to Hezbollah by way of Syria, there will always be an endless supply of munitions to further militarize the Israeli border.
Lebanon’s open border and inability to control Hezbollah has allowed Iran’s dreams of a “Shia Crescent'' to become all but a reality with Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-affiliated fighters moving into Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, extending Iran’s reach all the way to the Mediterranean.
In August 2020, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon’s (UNIFIL) mandate and budget will be up for renewal, and statements from the U.S. Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres have suggested that major changes may be on the horizon.
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