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United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 was a resolution adopted by the United Nations Security Council on September 2, 2004. It called upon Lebanon to establish its sovereignty over all of its land and called upon "foreign forces" (generally interpreted as referring but not limited to Syriamarker) to withdraw from Lebanonmarker and to cease intervening in the internal politics of Lebanon. The resolution also called on all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias to disband and declared support for a "free and fair electoral process".

Nine countries voted in favor: Angolamarker, Beninmarker, Chilemarker, Francemarker, Germanymarker, Romaniamarker, Spainmarker, the United Kingdommarker, and the United Statesmarker. Six countries abstained: Algeriamarker, Brazilmarker, the People's Republic of Chinamarker, Pakistanmarker, the Philippinesmarker and Russiamarker.

The resolution was sponsored by France and the United States. The cooperation between these two nations on an issue concerning the Middle East was seen as a significant improvement in their relationship, compared to their earlier bitter disagreement over the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Because Lebanon was governed by France as a League of Nations mandate 1919-1943, France has long taken a special interest in Lebanon.

Chronology

On September 2, 2004, the UN Security Council adopted UN Security Council Resolution 1559, coauthored by France and the United States. Echoing the Taif Agreement, the resolution "calls upon all remaining foreign forces to withdraw from Lebanon" and "for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias." Lebanon has requested that Israel withdraw from the disputed Shebaa Farmsmarker and the hills of Kfar-Shouba and return the Lebanese detainees in Israel as a condition for fully implementing Resolution 1559 which includes disbanding of the military wing of Hezbollah. Critics of the resolution argue however that an attempt from the weak and politically divided Lebanese army to disarm Hezbollah would be very difficult and could restart the Lebanese civil war. Syria was also in violation of the resolution until recently because of their military presence in Lebanon.

On October 7, 2004 the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan reported to the Security Council regarding the lack of compliance with Resolution 1559. Mr. Annan concluded his report by saying: "It is time, 14 years after the end of hostilities and four years after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, for all parties concerned to set aside the remaining vestiges of the past. The withdrawal of foreign forces and the disbandment and disarmament of militias would, with finality, end that sad chapter of Lebanese history."

The January 20, 2005 UN Secretary-General's report on Lebanon stated that "The continually asserted position of the Government of Lebanon that the Blue Line is not valid in the Shab'a farmsmarker area is not compatible with Security Council resolutions. The Council has recognized the Blue Line as valid for purposes of confirming Israel’s withdrawal pursuant to resolution 425 (1978). The UN Security Council has repeatedly requested that all parties respect the Blue Line in its entirety."

On January 28, 2005 UN Security Council Resolution 1583 called upon the Government of Lebanon to fully extend and exercise its sole and effective authority throughout the south, including through the deployment of sufficient numbers of Lebanese armed and security forces, to ensure a calm environment throughout the area, including along the Blue Line, and to exert control over the use of force on its territory and from it.

Syria made few moves to comply with the resolution until the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, on February 14, 2005. International pressure to withdraw intensified and public perception in Lebanon turned strongly against Syria, evidenced by mass demonstrations that were labeled the Cedar Revolution. President Bashar al-Assad of Syria announced on March 5, 2005 that he planned to "bring his forces home." The withdrawal, involving about 14,000 troops, took about seven weeks to complete.

On April 26, 2005, after 29 years of military action in Lebanon, the last Syrian troops left Lebanon. Syrian military and intelligence facilities, after the destruction of sensitive documents or the transportation of logistical material, were turned over to Lebanese counterparts. This action left the Lebanese government as the main violator of the resolution due to its refusal to dismantle the pro-Syrian Palestinian and Hezbollah militias.

On December 27, 2005 Katyusha rockets fired from Hezbollah territory smashed into houses in the Israeli city of Kiryat Shmonamarker wounding three people [84509]. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called on the Lebanese government "to extend its control over all its territory, to exert its monopoly on the use of force, and to put an end to all such attacks" [84510].

On January 23, 2006 the UN Security Council called on the Government of Lebanon to make more progress in controlling its territory and disbanding militias, while also calling on Syria to cooperate with those efforts. In a statement read out by its January President, Augustine Mahiga of Tanzania, the Council also called on Syria to take measures to stop movements of arms and personnel into Lebanon.

The Lebanese response

The Lebanese government has officially responded to this resolution. It is posted on the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) official website ([84511]). It has responded in three ways to the resolution:
  1. The withdrawal of the foreign forces from Lebanon;
  2. Disarming the Lebanese and foreign guerillas; and
  3. Expanding the government's authority on all the Lebanese territories.


Lebanese Political Debate

The question of compliance with Resolution 1559 is a prominent matter in Lebanese politics. Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has stated that the government considers Hezbollah arms to be a domestic affair and that stated policy should reassure Hezbollah that the government will protect its military wing.. Hezbollah, seeing itself as the sole representative of the Lebanese resistance, was trying to acquire better privileges allowing it to stop any possible attack. The debate took several months after which prime minister Fouad Siniora admitted that the resistance will be not called anything else but resistance, in reference to people attacking it as a militia.

Druze leader MP Walid Jumblatt has repeatedly insisted that he objects to the disarmament of Hezbollah, according to the international resolution, describing the party as a "resistance group" and not a militia. He engaged in an electoral alliance with Hezbollah during the 2005 parliamentary election, with one of the titles of the alliance being "The Protection of the Resistance," but is now calling on Hezbollah to be integrated into the Lebanese Army and hand in its weapons over to the government.

Siniora has more stated on July 20, 2006 that "the continued presence of Israeli occupation of Lebanese lands in the Shebaa Farmsmarker region is what contributes to the presence of Hezbollah weapons. The international community must help us in (getting) an Israeli withdrawal from Shebaa Farms so we can solve the problem of Hezbollah's arms."

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