Caught between a rock and a hard place, Lebanon’s government has pledged to secure its frontier with Syria. It is a condition Israel wants before lifting its air and sea blockade but says UN troops must be involved. Damascus, on the other hand, remains totally opposed to such a move. Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad said the UN troops would be a violation of Lebanese sovereignty: “ It is the handing over of this sovereignty to other parties that is a hostile move against Syria which will naturally create problems between us.”
To play down the controversy, Lebanon’s Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora, has called for technical assistance from Germany. He wants electronic devices and other tracking equipment able to trace smuggled goods, namely arms. That way the Lebanese troops could do the job on their own. Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency has warned of a possible food crisis in the country because of the impact the 34-day war has had on local harvests. And while most civilians displaced by the conflict have returned to their villages, many remain homeless because their houses are destroyed or littered with unexploded bombs.