Parallel diplomacy
courtesy by: International Committee for European Security and Co-operation I.C.E.S.C.
(NGO in consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council)  url:
see also: .../nptmotion.htm ¦ .../NPT.htm ¦ .../landler.htm ¦ .../jaffa.htm ¦ .../deadlock.htm ¦ .../ICESC.htm
tks 4 forwarding this to whom it may concern (4 errors, comments & suggestions:

21 Jul 07   Getting Hezbollah to Behave, NYT, NICHOLAS NOE
19 Aug 06    MEMO 4:   Si vis pacem para bellum!, I.C.E.S.C.
10 Aug 06   Israel/Iran - why not reanimate a natural alliance?, Anton Keller, I.C.E.S.C.
9 Aug 06    MEMO 3:  Exit Pathway Indicators on Current Mideastern Conflicts, I.C.E.S.C.
31 July 06   A new Cana miracle?, Anton Keller, I.C.E.S.C.
       MEMO 2:   Political Catalysts for Global Mideastern Package, GOGEL
23 July 06    MEMO 1:  Neutralized Zones, GOGEL
16 May 06   Harvard & other impulses for unlocking U.S./Iran nuclear gridlock, Philip Wainwright, I.C.E.S.C.
31 Jan 06   Iranian NPT rights & obligations in perspective, Anton Keller, GOGEL
      extract from Iran's NPT Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA
29 Sep 05   More Light & Less Flat-Earth Missionaries!, Iconoclast

31 January 2006
H.E. Kofi Annan, Secretary General
United Nations
New York (9632155)

re: Iranian NPT rights & obligations in perspective

Your Excellency,
    On the backdrop of a current diplomatic headache – Iran’s legitimate but for some less than helpful insistence on its duly acquired rights, under the NPT, to the full range of peaceful nuclear activities and, under certain conditions, even to «non-peaceful activities» involving nuclear material (Iran's NPT Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, art.14) – I’m calling on your assistance for digging out a possibly helpful document from some dust-covered file. For it might serve as a reference, source of inspiration and a precedent for a generally satisfactory diplomatic way out of the current impasse.  In as much as Iran might want to fully exploit its nuclear installations within the vast confines of the NPT. In as much as the existence, basic structure and content of the NPT is not to be put into question by the powers that be without, in the event, proper preparation in the course of a possible follow-up to the 1968 Non-Nuclear Weapon States Conference. And in as much as Russia and/or other nuclear-weapon countries, might find it proper and indicated under the circumstances to strengthen the nonproliferation regime by having these Iranian installations operated with full Iranian participation under, e.g., Russian sovereignty, diplomatic immunity and effective control.
    On the initiative by President Dwight D.Eisenhower, the U.S.-sponsored memorable «Atoms for Peace» conference was held in Geneva in August 1955. Held on the premises of the Palais des Nations, it featured Sapphire, i.e. a research nuclear reactor of the swimming pool type which was later turned over to Switzerland and, at Würenlingen, became the core of its R&D in nuclear matters. The reactor’s temporary location was in front of the UN’s main building at the south end of the park where there is now a depository for documents. Involving questions of security, liability, extra-territoriality, diplomatic immunity, etc., the reactor’s temporary installation, operation and removal is understood to have been covered by corresponding formal agreements between the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, the United Nations and the Swiss government.
    Accordingly, I would appreciate your assistance in locating the documents thus described above, and in bringing them to the attention of those concerned with the subject matter. Meanwhile, I take this opportunity to extend to you my best wishes and remain, sincerely yours,

Anton Keller, Secretary, Good Offices Group of European Lawmakers, Geneva
(t+f) +4122-7400362

cc: Iranian, Austrian, Chinese, French, German, Russian, UK, US missions to the UN

extract from Iran's NPT Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA

Article 14
If the Government of Iran intends to exercise its discretion to use nuclear material which is required to be safeguarded under this Agreement in a nuclear activity which does not require the application of safeguards under this Agreement, the following procedures shall apply:
(a) The Government of Iran shall inform the Agency of the activity, making it clear:
(i) That the use of the nuclear material in a non-proscribed military activity will not be in conflict with an undertaking the Government of Iran may have given and in respect of which Agency safeguards apply, that the material will be used only in a peaceful nuclear activity; and
(ii) That during the period of non-application of safeguards the nuclear material will not be used for the production of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices;
(b) The Government of Iran and the Agency shall make an arrangement so that, only while the nuclear material is in such an activity, the safeguards provided for in this Agreement will not be applied. The arrangement shall identify, to the extent possible, the period or circumstances during which safeguards will not be applied. In any event, the safeguards provided for in this Agreement shall apply again as soon as the nuclear material is reintroduced into a peaceful nuclear activity. The Agency shall be kept informed of the total quantity and composition of such unsafeguarded material in Iran and of any export of such material; and
(c) Each arrangement shall be made in agreement with the Agency. Such agreement shall be given as promptly as possible and shall relate only to such matters as, inter alia, temporal and procedural provisions and reporting arrangements, but shall not involve any approval or classified knowledge of the military activity or relate to the use of the nuclear material therein.


16 May 2006
Abbas Maleki and Matthew Bunn,
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs,
Harvard University    Cambridge, Mass.

Harvard & other impulses for unlocking the U.S./Iran nuclear gridlock

Dear colleagues,
    This is to commend you on your imaginative search for a "Way Out of the Iranian Nuclear Crisis" ("Harvard Researchers Propose Plan to Resolve Iranian Nuclear Crisis", Harvard University, March 2006).  President Sadat's gridlock-busting historical trip to Jerusalem is, of course, for any statesman a difficult act to follow. Yet, a trip to Teheran would at least match the gesture of the Iranian President. Meanwhile, we have to play the cards already in our hands.
    Interestingly, your contribution  is seen to confirm and strengthen the analysis underlying the proposal made by some Swiss lawmakers ( ¦ .../3103.htm)
a)    to call for an urgent comprehensive review of the developments related to the proliferation of nuclear weapons, e.g. by way of a follow-up meeting to the 1968 Non-Nuclear Weapon States Conference (until whose termination, Iran might agree to suspend its uranium enrichment for peaceful purposes) and, in the event,
b)    to facilitate the operation, for peaceful purposes, of the said-to-be-critical nuclear facilities in Iran, with full Iranian participation but under foreign, e.g. Russian sovereignty (drawing inspiration from the Swiss-US nuclear cooperation agreement of 1955: .../NPT.htm#3388 ¦ .../Saphir.tif), as earlier proposed to the UN Secretary General (.../iranmail.htm ¦ .../landler.htm).
    I have just returned from a brief visit to Washington where I had an opportunity to take the temperature for the above-outlined principled ideas among policy advisers and decision-makers on the Hill, at Foggy Bottom and on K Street. To my dismay, I found the temperature already uncomfortably hot and rapidly rising (as publicly summarized e.g. by Seymour M. Hersh in "THE IRAN PLANS", The New Yorker, April 17, 2006, and Akeel Shah in "More Dark Clouds Gathering Over Iran?",, May 10, 2006). And I got a bit alarmed by the locally dominant mood and mindset which is seen to reflect an increasingly generalized saturation, compliance mode and inability/unwillingness to lean back. Long gone is the time when good advice was given in Richard Nixon's 1969 Inaugural Address, namely to "lower your voice" in order to be able to listen to weaker external and internal voices who may also have something helpful to tell each one of us - in as much as nobody has a monopoly for good ideas.
    Not surprisingly then, the Iranian President's initiative to overcome persistent communication hurdles by way of an unusual roots-oriented letter to his American counterpart ( ¦, initially at least, struck few sympathetic cords on the Western side of the debate. And though this initiative may have been inspired by such astounding ancient military/diplomatic feats as the 1229 Jaffa Peace Treaty on Jerusalem (.../jaffa.htm), it may not, on its own, produce the mutually helpful timely effects for avoiding the looming disaster which risks to extend far beyond Iran.
    Accordingly, we thus herewith submit for consideration a brief outline of lesser-known related circumstances. They are seen to have a bearing on the hopefully non-military resolution of the nuclear gridlock between the U.S. and Iran, two countries some observers consider to be unsuspecting "natural allies", just as the Palestinians and the Israelis have yet to rediscover their true family roots:

1.    The "intolerable existential danger" that an Iranian nuclear weapons capability would be posing to Israel's physical existence in the minds of her closest supporters is seen to be real.  By the same token, mutual misunderstandings bred by a persistent lack of dialogue, ignorance of historical facts, and erroneous interpretations of incomplete records continue to cloud the spirits and debates on related matters. To be sure, there is no real substitute for political clear-sightedness, courage and corresponding principled measures. And while assymetric and otherwise deficient bureaucratic band-aides may hold back the tide for some time, the dangers thus piling up out of sight may make matters even worse for the next generation. Not surprisingly then, the basic structure and content of the Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT: .../NPT.htm ¦ .../holygrail.htm) have proven to be woefully inadequate for dealing responsibly, reliably and effectively with either the legitimate aspirations of sovereign nations or such perceived-to-be existential dangers. The urgent call submitted by Swiss lawmakers for a follow-up stock-taking and brain-storming to the 1968 Non-Nuclear Weapon States Conference (.../3103.htm ¦ .../nptmotion.htm#Swiss)appears thus timely and worth considering.

2.    Both as a statesman and a teacher, the Iranian President rightly points to, and draws inspiration from Persia's eternal cultural values, notably its traditions for righteousness and tolerance, as well as for good thoughts, good words and good deeds. And if he were to pursue this path still further, and follow Al-Azhar's guidance on the proposal to study the "roots of Islam, particularly those preceding Judean and Christian traditions" (.../slm.htm ¦ .../a1.htm), he too might enlighten his students on the "phenomenon of Israel", Senegal, etc. as being yet-to-be recognized outgrowths of Akhenaton's Egypt (Jan Assmann, "Moses the Egyptian - The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism", Harvard University Press Cambridge, 1998; Ahmed Osman, "Moses and Akhenaten: The Secret History of Egypt at the Time of the Exodus", 2002; "The Dawn of Monotheism Revisited", Corum Netquery, 2000; Theophile Osenga, "Origine commune de l'Egyptien ancien, du copte et des langues négro-africaines modernes", Harmattan, 1993).
    With that, of course, the Iranian President, and many others, might also find pause in the heated debate over the true origins and legitimate place of the people which has emerged from the Babylonian exile. And which is seen as having an even more obligeing past than commonly recognized, as Israeli and other archeologists are suggesting (Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman, "The Bible Unearthed", Touchstone, 2002). A vastly increased dialogue on "Political Islam and the West", commenced in 1997 in Cyprus, is thus called for. And enlightened politicians in Iran and elsewhere might further advance the needed dialogue by helping to bring about a volontary, mutually fruitful and generally gridlock-unlocking exile experience for their Palestinian friends - a search for the unmasked truth and an experience which could prove no less unifying, fortifying and enriching as that which their estranged "Jewish" brethren had experienced in Babylon (.../deadlock.htm ¦ .../pal.htm ¦ .../mvciht.htm ¦ .../babylon2.htm).

3.     On numerous occasions in- and outside of the UN Human Rights Commission meetings, our Representatives had the opportunity to testify not only of the plight of religious, cultural and ethnic minorities in the Middle East, including on the expulsed Hamas leaders in Lebanon and the Yezidi in Iraq (.../a33e.htm#MVRC-ICRC ¦ .../ICESC.htm#Daud Baghistani). But on August 14, 1995, we also availed our NGO facilities to the Very Reverend Father Nshan Ara Garabed Topouzian who authoritatively reported to this UN Commission on the "Christians as a Religious Minority in Iran".  At first, Father Topouzian's favorable report was received - not atypically - with utter disbelief and strong objections by another of our Representatives, David Littman who, ten days earlier, had presented his visionary paper "Towards a United States of Abraham in the Middle East". And two days later, under the sponsorship of our NGO, the Algerian FIS had its fiercely resisted but in the end well received first presentation at the UN through its delegate Said Lahlali, who testified in French on the subject: "Towards real enjoyment of the economic, social and cultural rights by Algier's youth" (Vers une véritable jouissance des droits économiques, sociaux et culturels, notamment par la jeunesse Algérienne).
    To be sure, none of these contributions brought about the resolution of any of the conflicts concerned. Yet - just as we all trust it to be the case with the Iranian President's letter - all of them eventually made their dent. For they were inspired by their authors' principled positions, openness, and willingness to contribute their own share for unlocking gridlock by listening to others and by re-evaluating their own position in light of new insights. These authors, too drew strength and guidance from deeply felt roots in their monotheistic Judean, Christian or Muslim beliefs. Moreover, inside and among the leadership of our NGO, these contributions had a profound effect on our subsequent work. We took sort of a sabbatical leave from our "normal" UN activities (.../ICESC.htm), focussing instead on the religious, cultural and ethnic common dominators of the regional conflicts (Vivant Sequentes ¦ .../salve.htm ¦ .../opinion.htm). God willing, and with the support of the powers that be in Arbil and other capitals, the SLM Foundation for the study of the roots of monotheism prior to the Judean, Christian and Muslim traditions (.../slm.htm)may thus be created shortly, contribute in time its grain to the transformation of conflicts, and deploy its stabilizing and regenerative effects in the cradle of civilization and beyond.

Accordingly, your own and the above-outlined proposals are expected to facilitate the all-too-long suspended, yet indispensable dialogue between the interested parties. We thus look forward to an early opportunity to study related comments and, in the event, to be of assistance to the authorities concerned. With best regards

Philip Wainwright, Main I.C.E.S.C. Representative to the UN in New York
Anton Keller, I.C.E.S.C. Representative
International Committee for European Security and Cooperation (I.C.E.S.C.)
cp 2580    -    1211 Geneva 2    -    +4122-7400362    -

PS:  We'd appreciate your notifying us of related contributions which might advance the debate, enlighten and assist the decision-makers here and there, and which thus should be added to the list of "more recent contributions" in our main site "Armament, Sovereignty & Laws - Contributions on War & Peace, Weapons of Mass Destruction, etc."(.../NPT.htm).


box 2580 - 1211 Geneva 2 ¦ t+f: +4122-7400362 ¦ ¦ url:
.../package.htm ¦ .../iran.htm ¦ .../masada.htm ¦ .../deadlock.htm ¦ .../iranmail2.htm ¦ .../salve.htm
 July 23, 2006
MEMO 1:  Neutralized Zones (1)

    The 1949 Geneva Conventions reflect in the humanitarian domain what the International Court of Justice solemnly called the "very essence of the sacred trust of civilization."  They offer practical pathways not only towards effectively protecting civilian populations in war zones, but contain the fundament for such time-tested ideas as "humanitarian corridors", "open towns" and "neutralized zones" (2). As such, and in the hands of imaginative politicians and diplomats, they can serve also as political catalysts for clearing the fog and regaining control over the evolution of things affecting societies and, in line with international humanitarian law, to stop and eventually reverse the spiral of violence.

    In the current conflict involving the Southern part of Lebanon, the powers that be may thus find it indicated to promptly set up and strictly observe the conditions for operating neutralized zones for the protection of civilians (3), if need be even on a unilateral basis (4). Thus, the full weight of these key conventions on the law of war could be brought to bear on all those on the military command or execution level who would violate any such duly created neutralized zones.  For they would thus automatically subject themselves to persecution anywhere in the world for crimes against humanity. But full respect for these zones could be expected only if their effective and durable de-militarization were promptly and reliably achieved either through negotiations and/or with the assistance of mutually agreeable third parties, perhaps involving good offices by neutral states.

(1)    adapted from our Note of 3.7.91 which contributed to the setting up of inadequately operated and respected neutralized zones in former Yugoslavia
(2)    Article 15 of the Fourth Geneva Convention:
"Any Party to the conflict may, either direct or through a neutral State or some humanitarian organization, propose to the adverse Party to establish, in the regions where fighting is taking place, neutralized zones intended to shelter from the effects of war the following persons, without distinction:   (a) wounded and sick combatants or non-combatants;   (b) civilian persons who take no part in hostilities, and who, while they reside in the zones, perform no work of a military character.  When the Parties concerned have agreed upon the geographical position, administration, food supply and supervision of the proposed neutralized zone, a written agreement shall be concluded and signed by the representatives of the Parties to the conflict.  The agreement shall fix the beginning and the duration of the neutralization of the zone."
For related material see notably:  "Hospital Localities and Safety Zones", ICRC, Geneva 1952, p.42ss;  SANDOZ, Ives, "Localités et Zones sous Protection Spéciale", in:  "Quatre études de  droit international humanitaire", Institut Henry Dunant, Geneva 1985, p.41ss.
(3)    Art.15 requires all parties to a given conflict to cease forthwith all military operations against and within such neutralized zone.
(4)    Though art.15 provides for an agreement among the "Parties concerned" both the national and the local authorities are seen to be in a position to validly declare certain areas, eventually extending over the entire territories of conflict, to be neutralized zones in the sense of art. 15 of the Fourth Geneva Convention - provided they unreservedly accept the conditions associated with this status.  This view is supported by the recognized practice of open towns which are also declared unilaterally, which serve similar aims and which, in practice, had similar effects.

The Good Offices Group of European Lawmakers grew out of the still unsettled Falklands/Malvinas conflict;
it is a constituent part of the International Committee for European Security and Co-operation I.C.E.S.C.
(a non-governmental organization, since 1979 in consultative status with the United Nations' ECOSOC)


Geneva, 31 July 2006
H.E. Kofi Annan, Secretary General
United Nations    New York

A new Cana miracle, after Jesus turned water into wine at Cana (John 2, 1-11)?
Let light overcome darkness, facts take the place of false prophets,
thus sparing us all a much wider conflict!

Your Excellency,

Trusting that my communication of July 23, 2006 ( has been brought to your attention, I take pleasure calling on your good offices for relaying to whom it may concern some supplementary elements offered by the Good Offices Group of European Lawmakers, as attached (.../package.htm ¦ .../masada.htm).

Thanking you in advance for our benevolant consideration, I'm looking forward to an early opportunity to discuss related matters with your staff and to personally meet Your Excellency at a place and date of mutual convenience. Meanwhile, I remain, sincerely yours,

Anton Keller, Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York
International Committee for European Security and Co-Operation (.../ICESC)

box 2580 - 1211 Geneva 2 ¦ t+f: +4122-7400362 ¦ ¦ url:
 .../masada.htm ¦ .../neutralzone.htm ¦ .../deadlock.htm ¦ .../iranmail2.htm ¦ .../salve.htm

July 31, 2006
MEMO 2:   Political Catalysts for Global Mideastern Package (1)

1.    In 1968, Iran and Israel co-founded the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Company Ltd. (EAPC) which, as a joint venture, built and operated this multi-billion dollar Suez Canal by-pass; since interruption of their diplomatic relations, Israel is understood to manage Iran's share on a fiduciary basis, while an opportunity for settling related investments is still awaited. One such opportunity may consist of a follow-up joint venture of a transit pipeline from Rasht to Haifa and/or Tripoli through Northern Iraq. Meanwhile, a.o., Israel's Carmel Chemicals Group has helped to maintain goodwill through authorized trades with Iran.

2.    The legitimate interests of the Jordan River Basin's riparian states in appropriate usages and a fair sharing of the basin's water resources have yet to be mutually recognized and accommodated through negotiations, as indicated by the applicable standards of international law and customs, such as the Helsinki Rules on the Uses of the Waters of International Rivers. The normalization of Syria's Golan Heights may be deblocked by way of corresponding negotiations, perhaps involving the mutually agreed establishment of a permanently neutralized zone over part of that area (cf: the neutralized zone of Northern Savoie of 1815, and art.15 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949).

3.    As pointed out by Akiva Eldar from Ha’aretz and Shraga Elam, current questions on prisoner exchanges were addressed on previous occasions, e.g. in the Jerusalem Post of Feb.8, 2004 by Nachman Shai, Senior VP and Director General, United Jewish Communities (UJC) Israel and former Israeli Army spokesperson  (.../voicesofreason.htm):
   “A new question emerges from the agreement on the prisoners and the soldiers' bodies: Isn't it time to conduct comprehensive negotiations with Hizbullah? ... We don't have to legitimize terrorism, but we must find ways to neutralize it. Our primary objective is to create a new atmosphere conducive to peace in the Middle East ... we ought to talk to Hizbullah. We must exploit every possibility to reach a compromise with them …“

4.    In the People's Daily Online of July 21, 2006, the China Institute of International Studies' Dong Manyuan offered this analysis:
    "Although the Lebanese government and Hezbollah have asked the Israeli government for the "return" of the Shaba farm, they did not resort to the use of force to impose pressure on Israel. In launching strikes against Israel, the Hezbollah, while hoisting the slogan of "resistance to occupation", has four real intensions in the pursuit of its political objectives and value norms: ..."

5.    Territorialy, both the contested Shaba farm  and the Southern tip of Lebanon seem to avail themselves for the establishment of balanced, mutually securizing and agreeable neutralized zones - particularly if extended to space so as to keep airplanes and rockets from crossing internationally recognized borders. And with both the Israeli and the Lebanese governments manifestly representing and embracing all factions of their respective societies, fulfilling art.15 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, by way of self-demilitarization of these neutralized zones by the involved governments, should not be beyond either their wisdom, strength or reach, with reliable confirmation procedures, surveillance and other good offices seen to be available from neutral foreign parties.
(1)    see Memorandum of 23/7/06 on the Neutralized Zones (Fourth Geneva Convention; .../neutralzone.htm)

The Good Offices Group of European Lawmakers grew out of the still unsettled Falklands/Malvines conflict;
it is a constituent part of the International Committee for European Security and Co-operation I.C.E.S.C.
(a non-governmental organization, since 1979 in consultative status with the United Nations' ECOSOC)

MEMO 3:  Exit Pathway Indicators on Current Mideastern Conflicts

1.    The Iranian Government reportedly called on the Swiss Government for rendering good offices in nuclear security matters (, notably in the form of preparing for and holding in Switzerland in autumn 2007 an international conference involving both nuclear weapon states (NWS) and non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS). The Swiss Government is thus expected to develop the conference agenda in consultation with the interested states, and the Iranian Government is understood to suspend, volontarily and without prejudice, all of its civil-purpose and IAEA-controlled uranium enrichment activities until after the conclusion of this conference.

2.    The Iranian Government, in coopertation with the Lebanese Government, sees to it that UNSCR 1559 will be fully implemented forthwith, with all mobile and non-mobile offensive weapons stationed on Lebanese territory fully accounted for and either destroyed or brought under the exclusive control of the Lebanese Army. At the request of the Lebanese Government, the governments of France, Iran, Israel, Syria and the United States jointly provide their good offices for supervising the corresponding measures effectively, reliably and without impediments of any nature, but with due regard to the sovereignty of Lebanon.

3.    The Israeli Government agrees to withdraw its armed forces forthwith behind the blue line and, upon mutual cessation of hostilities, to establish a neutralized zone in the sense of art.15 of the 1949 Geneva Convention (.../neutralzone.htm) under its administration over all of the territory of the Shaba farms until a definitive international agreement will have resolved the related sovereignty and boundary questions.

ICESC - 9 August 2006

Communication of 10 August 2006, addressed to H.E. the Israeli Foreign Minister,
and to H.E. the Iranian President, with copy to H.E. Kofi Annan

re: Israel/Iran - why not reanimate a natural alliance?

Your Excellency,

1.    If it becomes politically and otherwise too costly for Israel to do it essentially on its own, and if neither a beefed-up UNIFIL, nor another conceivable conglomerate of foreign "peace enforcers" and Lebanese troops can be expected to reliably carry out the measures set out in UNSCR 1559 and which are deemed necessary for either destroying or neutralizing the offensive weapons stationed in Lebanon, why not motivate and task the originators and handlers of these weapons with this job, and have the related measures properly supervised (draft plan:

2.    Israel reportedly owes to Iran over 5 billion $ from the time of the Shah. Instead of ignoring, evading or drowning this issue, why not exploring and developing it as a vehicle for resolving current issues by way of mutually beneficial joint ventures, such as the proposed transit pipeline Rasht-Haifa via Northern Iraq and Jordan (.../package.htm)?

3.    The still unresolved overlapping claims regarding Palestinian territories are seen as core issues of the Mideastern conflict. Why not explore out-of-the-box pathways for addressing this issue, inlcuding the Babylon II proposals involving more imaginative initiatives from the Palestinian side and which, in the context of a global approach, might be facilitated to mutual advantages by visionary and principled Iranian and Iraqi leaders (.../gridlock.htm)?

Sincerely yours,

Anton Keller, Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York
International Committee for European Security and Co-operation (.../ICESC)

MEMO 4:   Si vis pacem para bellum!

1.    The backbone of any genuinely sovereign nation is its armed forces, which will reflect the composition and structure of the society which formed it. In the case of Lebanon, too, this appears to be a generally supportable aim. Lebanon's political pact among its constitutive ethnic and religious communities apears to indicate an organic evolution towards essentially de-centralized, e.g. cantonal structures, even in defence matters - similar to the way Switzerland is now organized. The run-up to, the current outcome and the aftermath of the latest Israel/Lebanon war are seen to lend themselves for accelerating this process towards internally agreeable and regionally stabilizing political and defence formulas and institutions.

2.    A credible and effective defence of, particularly, population centers against foreign air operations is - and for the foreseeable future probably remains - unobjectionable, both in international law and current Mideastern politics. The home-grown and locally enrooted forces not only effectively demonstrated the limits of conventional air power but also contributed decisively to the outcome-to-date of the latest military campaign. As such, they appear as a natural candidate for building and constituting the core of a territorially zoned air defense corps as an integral part of the Lebanese Army, with responsibility to secure not only Lebanon's air space, but also its civil infrastructure and population centers, from Tyre to Tripoli. Such a reorganization and refocussing of defence resources might, in a generally stabilizing way, liberate other segments of the Lebanese Army in sufficient numbers for a return to the status quo ante in the country's southern part to be reliably ruled out, even if foreign troops stationed there did not attain the objectives set out in UNSCR 1701.

3.    On the question of rockets and other offensive strategic material, there can be no serious question in international law of the sovereign nation of Lebanon to have not only the right but - not unlike a permanently neutral armed country - also the sovereign obligation to acquire and equip itself with all the weapons it deems necessary for the effective defence of its national territory and space. This, of course, entails the equally strict condition that any decision over, and the effective use of strategic offensive weapons in particular is, and must reliably remain, the exclusive prerogative of the internationally responsible, constitutional Lebanese authorities. Accordingly, and in as much as related questions have arisen and remain not resolved to the satisfaction of Israel in particular, it behooves the constitutional Lebanese authorities - as suggested before - to take effective control over any and all offensive weapons on its territory and, in the event, to draw on the good offices of other countries for reliably accounting and disposing of these weapons.

ICESC    19 August 2006    url:

Op-Ed Contributor
The New York Times
July 21, 2007

Getting Hezbollah to Behave
By NICHOLAS NOE, Beirut, Lebanon

ONE year after Israel’s devastating 34-day war with Hezbollah, it seems as though both sides are readying themselves for another round. Recent statements by American and Israeli officials, as well as the United Nations, assert that Hezbollah has largely re-equipped and refortified, compliments of Syria and Iran. On the other side of the border, the news media report that the Israeli Defense Force has done the same, with, of course, the help of American military aid.

Given what may be a regional movement toward conflict, the United States and Israel would do well to pause and take stock of the nonviolent alternatives that Hezbollah itself says would lead it to shun military action. Indeed, the best way to contain Hezbollah may be to give it some of what it says it wants.

Since its official founding in 1985, Hezbollah has seen its argument, not to mention its capacity, for violence repeatedly buoyed by what the group calls the “open wars” waged by Israel against it (and invariably against the rest of Lebanon, too) in 1993, 1996 and again in 2006.

In contrast, when the confrontational approach has receded — most notably after Israel ended its 22-year occupation of Lebanon in 2000 — Hezbollah’s ability and desire to use violence receded as well.

And therein lies an alternative strategy available to Israel and the United States: gradually and peacefully containing Hezbollah violence by undermining public support for resistance operations.

For without widespread public support from Lebanese of all religious persuasions, Muslim and Christian alike — especially now that the Syrian enforcers have ostensibly left Lebanon — violent operations would not only be extremely difficult, Hezbollah leaders acknowledge, but also domestically hazardous for their Shiite base.

This is precisely the reason that Hezbollah, since the 2000 Israeli withdrawal, has reduced its overt military presence and taken part in Lebanese politics in ways that it once would have avoided as corrupting or unnecessary, including a cabinet portfolio in 2005 and a surprisingly sturdy alliance in 2006 with the main Christian leader, Gen. Michel Aoun. This may be also why Hezbollah has been so uncharacteristically quiet in the confrontation between the Lebanese Army, which is enjoying a surge of public support at the moment, and Qaeda-inspired militants at the Palestinian refugee camp Nahr al Bared in northern Lebanon.

Undermine the rationale for violence directed at Israel — a rationale which, like it or not, is accepted by a great many Lebanese — and you have gone a long way toward reducing Hezbollah’s ability to act violently both along the border and even farther afield (that is if the American assertions of Hezbollah involvement in Iraq are to be believed).

In the meantime, you will have also pushed Hezbollah further into the muck of “normal” Lebanese politicking — an unflattering arena in which the Party of God is already uncharacteristically flip-flopping a- round, hurling accusations of “collaboration” at one moment while at the next suggesting the formation of a “national unity” government with some of those same “collaborators.”

For this oblique form of containment to work, however, the United States must first address what Hezbollah’s leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, has long termed the “four bleeding wounds” that engender public support for his party’s use of violence against Israel.

These are the handing over of maps of the land mines the Israelis left in South Lebanon during the occupation; the return of all Lebanese prisoners; an end to Israeli overflights of Lebanon (which are arguably unnecessary in any case); and, finally, Israel’s relinquishing of the disputed Shebaa Farms area, which, according to a report last week in the Israeli daily Haaretz, the United Nations may declare as Lebanese by the end of the month.

As Mr. Nasrallah put it shortly after the last successful prisoner exchange with Israel in 2004, “These fools do not learn from their past mistakes: when they withdrew from Lebanon, they continued to occupy the Shebaa Farms and kept our brothers in custody.” By doing that, Mr. Nasrallah said of the Israelis, “they opened the door for us.”

Of course, one could argue that even if these “bleeding wounds” were removed, Hezbollah would simply invent other excuses to justify attacks. That’s certainly plausible, given that the Party of God views “resistance” as a fundamental principle, but the point is that these new excuses would undoubtedly be viewed as such: as false choices presented by one party bent on accomplishing its own narrow, even non-Lebanese interests.

And that possibility is one that would only further restrict Hezbollah’s actions, just as it finds itself already restricted by its ever-expanding web of political alliances.

By heeding Mr. Nasrallah’s advice and removing the “bleeding wounds,” the United States and its allies in Europe could then help to unleash exactly the kind of broad-based political, economic and military reform that would further convince Hezbollah and its supporters that the use of violence has become both unnecessary and, ultimately, counterproductive.

In the process, Israel and the United States too might also finally begin to learn some of the lessons of their past and present mistakes in Lebanon.

Nicholas Noe, a founder and the editor in chief of, is the editor of the forthcoming “Voice of Hezbollah: The Statements of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.”