UN Security Council Resolution 1559, Explained

One of the most talked-about United Nations Security Council resolutions relating to Lebanon is UNSCR 1559, which represented a pivotal point in Lebanon’s recent history.

Ousting Foreign Forces

Around a decade and a half after the end of the bloody Lebanese Civil War, there were still foreign military forces operating in Lebanon and intervening in its internal affairs.

Adopted on September 2nd, 2004, UNSCR 1559 called upon these “foreign forces,” namely, Syrian military forces, to withdraw from Lebanon and to cease meddling in its politics.

The Resolution, sponsored by France and the United States, supported “a free and fair electoral process” in the country, called upon it to establish its sovereignty over its land, and called on all militias in Lebanon, Lebanese and otherwise, to disband and disarm.

Hezbollah‘s military wing was part of the militias addressed in UNSCR 1559, but it was the only one to not comply.

Lebanon set a couple of conditions at the time for it to completely adhere to the Resolution: The Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Shebaa Farms and the hills of Kfarchouba, and the release of all Lebanese prisoners held by Israel.

No Compliance, Until…

Syrian commandos in Beirut – via Adalid

Around 4 months after the adoption of the Resolution, on January 28th, 2005, UNSCR 1583 followed, calling on the Lebanese government to deploy sufficient numbers of Lebanese soldiers and security forces personnel in South Lebanon and to expand and exercise its authority in the region.

This was after the U.N. secretary-general at the time, Kofi Annan, noted a lack of compliance with the Resolution.

Indeed, the Syrian military’s presence had not been shaken by the call to withdraw, and it remained steadfast in Lebanon.

This only changed with the eruption of the Cedar Revolution that followed the assassination of Lebanon’s prime minister at the time, Rafik Hariri, which ultimately led to the final withdrawal of Syrian forces on April 26th, 2005, a little over 2 months after Hariri’s killing.

Cedar Revolution Lebanon 2005

It’s worth noting that after the adoption of UNSCR 1559, the Lebanese state responded by saying that the only foreign forces existing in Lebanon were the Israeli forces occupying the Shebaa Farms and that the Syrian forces were “friendly Arab Forces” that had entered Lebanon based on the Lebanese government’s request.

Implying Hezbollah, the Lebanese government also stated that “the national resistance” that had been fighting Israel was “not a guerilla,” adding that its sole role was to face Israel and that it had no internal security role in Lebanon.

With that, Hezbollah retained its military wing and arms, as it continues to do, and Hezbollah‘s arms continue to be a key debate in Lebanese politics; a debate that has attracted more international attention over the years.

The party was similarly exempt from the disarmament call that was issued at the end of the civil war, with the birth of the document that had a significant impact on Lebanon on various levels: The Taif Agreement.

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