The United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, visited Lebanon on December 20, 2021 to show support for the country as it continued fail on multiple fronts. Already floundering due to an economic crisis, Lebanon’s falling fortunes are being exacerbated by the pandemic since March 2020, the explosion in the port that damaged much of the capital in August 2020 and infighting between various factions that make up the country’s political landscape and demographic mix.
Guterres spoke to the Lebanese cabinet in a lengthy speech that painted the people of Lebanon as particularly warm and welcoming in the face of adversity. However, various comments made – and parties unmentioned – reveal a dangerous UN bias for the future of the country and region.
Guterres called out Israel both directly and indirectly, and never favorably.
Palestinian refugees. The UNSG recalled Lebanon’s welcome of Syrian refugees and then appended “not to mention the old Palestinian community of a million.” That’s a complete lie. Lebanon welcomed several thousand Palestinian Arabs in 1948-9, and that total grew to 568,000 in 2021, half of Guterres’s figure. Further, Lebanon places severe restrictions on the professions for the stateless Arabs from Palestine (SAPs), forcing two-thirds of the population into poverty.
Coexistence. Guterres continued that Lebanon was an “extraordinary example of religious tolerance of the capacity to create a diverse society that was harmonious, that was prosperous and that was, I would say, the centre of the region.” Lebanon was engaged in a religious civil war from 1976 to 1990, a point completely omitted and whitewashed in the speech. It has been nearly fifty years since the country had a semblance of religious tolerance. Such tolerance at the “centre of the region” is found in Israel today, not Lebanon.
But Guterres wanted to castigate Israel in his remarks, not elevate it as an example of coexistence.
Israel’s belligerence. While noting for a just a second that Lebanon bore some responsibility for its current state of affairs, Guterres called out outside actors that hurt Lebanon, in particular “the Israeli invasion several years ago.” That invasion in 1982 was in the midst of Lebanon’s Civil War in which the country acted as a terrorist save haven for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) that repeatedly attacked Israel, forcing a response from Israel.
The unmentioned evil actors. Not only did the PLO go unmentioned in the speech, so did Hezbollah, the terrorist group that controls southern Lebanon, as well as Iran, which backs that terrorist group.
Hezbollah was directly responsible for the Beirut port blast which exacerbated the current situation. It has threatened judges investigating the case, lest the terrorist group be cast in a negative light before elections scheduled for March 2022.
Hezbollah is estimated to have well over 120,000 missiles with a range that covers all of northern Israel. The missile launch sites are nestled among 230 Shiite villages in southern Lebanon. Those rockets were purchased with funds from Iran, including the $400 million in cash sent by President Obama to seal the Iranian nuclear deal. This terrorist army was armed and missiles deployed right under the nose of the United Nations, where UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) is charged with maintaining the peace with Israel and keeping Hezbollah from rearming as part of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 (2006).
Hezbollah is likely to become fully active over the next several months as the Lebanese economy collapses, elections happen or are canceled, and the terrorist group’s sponsors in Iran are forced to either accept de-nuclearlization or full economic sanctions. Hezbollah has already begun to test the situation, firing 19 missiles into the Jewish State in August 2021. The UN did nothing, other than voting to continue to fund UNIFIL while it berated Israel and refused to mention Hezbollah.
Which begs the question of what was being accomplished with the head of the United Nations visiting Lebanon at this time. Was it seeking an economic package from world governments? That was mentioned (as was promoting the involvement of women in government), but so was this troubling statement:
“I want to say that our mission is essentially a mission of solidarity. You can be sure that Lebanon is today in the centre of all our strategies and efforts, both at the level of the Secretariat and at the level of the different agencies that are cooperating with the Lebanese authorities, not to mention our two missions, and in particular now, UNIFIL that we want to be more and more actively cooperating with the Lebanese army as a fundamental factor of stability and security in the southern part of Lebanon.“
UNIFIL and the Lebanese army have no sway in southern Lebanon. Guterres’s refusal to call out the main troubling actor in the region that has been firing missiles at its neighbor to the south is outrageous, dangerous and ominous.
The UN Secretary General came to stand in solidarity with Lebanon and ignored the dangerous and dominant role that the terrorist group Hezbollah has in the failing state. In the likely upcoming war with the Israel, it appears that Guterres just placed his chips with the puppet state controlled by Iran.