Reconsidering the Struggle over UNIFIL in Southern Lebanon
After Israel’s first invasion of Lebanon in 1978, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 425 (UNSCR 425) establishing the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The early struggle over the contested meanings and interpretations of UNSCR 425, and the differences of position regarding UNIFIL itself were never fully resolved due to the shifting nature of US policies and objectives in the region and the context of the force’s deployment within two distinct, albeit related conflicts: the Lebanese civil war and Arab-Israeli conflict. UNIFIL found itself trapped between the competing demands of sovereignty and resistance, not knowing which war it was there to prevent and which peace it was meant to build. This confusion resurfaced with the passage of UNSCR 1701 following the 2006 war, when UNIFIL’s mandate and scope was expanded, but the force continued to be a site of contested narratives and potential future conflicts.
Karim Makdisi is an associate professor of international politics at the American University of Beirut.