The south Lebanese village of Merwahin was the stage Thursday, Sept 28 of the first near-showdown between UN and Israeli forces. DEBKAfile publishes here the first photo of an encounter between 4 French Leclerc and at least 5 Israeli Merkava tanks in that Lebanese village.
Despite the photographic evidence, Israel officially denies the incident. DEBKAfile reports the French force sought to prevent the Israeli unit from combing through the Hizballah-dominated village in search of the raiders who crossed into Israel and broke into the IDF’s Kibbutz Shomera arms store last week. They made off with a large quantity of side-arms, anti-tank weapons, LAU rockets and hundreds of combat grenades, which the Israeli force was determined to recover.
Back when the French were waffling on whether to send troops to Lebannon, I started a blogpost on the subject but discarded it. I was waffling myself on whether a) the French were being hypocrites for advocating a UN-guaranteed cease fire while refusing to send the troops they promised, or b) were being smart for wanting to ensure their troops would not be under the byzantine bureaucratic UN command structure. In the back of my mind lurked the question of whether we even wanted French troops there. That question has been answered.
Meanwhile, an Iranian official has floated a suggestion that seems likely to be picked up by the French as a way to resolve the stand off over Iran's nuclear weapon ambitions.
PARIS — Iran has proposed that France create a consortium to enrich Tehran's uranium, saying that could satisfy international demands for outside oversight of the nuclear program.
Mohammad Saeedi, deputy chief of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency, made the proposal in an interview with French radio in Tehran, suggesting two French nuclear manufacturers as possible partners in the consortium.
"To be able to arrive at a solution, we have just had an idea. We propose that France create a consortium for the production in Iran of enriched uranium," Saeedi told France-Info in the interview broadcast Tuesday.
Once the French were in the country, then they would provide a shield for Iran's clandestine activities. It would be impossible for the US to respond to Iran's continued development of a nuclear weapon without coming into conflict with France.
No one believes that Iran is not trying to build a nuclear bomb. Any agreement with the Iranian government that depends on them keeping their word is doomed to fail. They will simply carry on their development activities in secret, and will have obtained a nuclear capability within 2-5 years. That is unacceptable. If Bush does not act soon, though, he's going to find that the French have resolved the situation in favor of the Iranians, acting, as they did for Hizbollah, as human shields for evil.
(H/T to TIADaily for both stories.)