In what had all the appearances of a triumphal return the Lebanese army has re-established itself in parts of southern Lebanon. Troops have set up bases in places where there’s been no Lebanese military presence in forty years. It follows the phased withdrawal of Israeli forces who have occupied much of the south since the conflict with Hizbollah ended in mid-August. Lebanese soldiers, along with UN peacekeepers, now control virtually all of the south of the country.
But in a sign of the continuing tensions Lebanon demanded Israel pull out from the Lebanese part of the border village of Ghajar, warning of “trouble” if it failed to do so. Lebanese President Emil Lahoud has kept the pressure up. He said, as part of the UN peace deal which ended the fighting Israel has committed itself finding a solution to the dispute over the Shebaa Farms area. Despite the highly visible Lebanese army presence, Hizbollah remains a powerful military and political influence in the region. It has not handed over any of its weapons.