The German parliament has opened its debate on the deployment of naval and air power in the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon. The result is in no doubt, as the CDU/SPD grand coalition controls three quarters of the seats in the Bundestag, but it is still a historic debate, the first since WWII that could engage German soldiers in the middle east. Elements of Germany’s contribution to UNIFIL are currently exercising off the coast, and are ready to set sail as soon as their orders arrive after tomorrow’s parliamentary vote.
2400 marines will be backed by a pair of frigates, two supply ships, and a clutch of rapid patrol cutters. The force’s mandate will run until next August, and will cost nearly 200 million euros. Meanwhile French reinforcements including four Leclerc main battle tanks have arrived in northern Lebanon as part of a bilateral agreement with the Lebanese government, and will not form part of UNIFIL.