My comments on continuing Irish participation in #undof from @morningireland earlier today

2 Sep

You can watch and listen to my brief interview on RTE’s Morning Ireland on Ireland’s participation in the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) mission here on Youtube

DSM on Morning Ireland

2 Responses to “My comments on continuing Irish participation in #undof from @morningireland earlier today”

  1. Liam Cahill September 2, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

    Chock full with statistics but not too much logic or clear thinking. Your desire to score political points against Coveney and the government also gets in the way. Looking for a review of the UNDOF mandate is a rational response to the events of recent days. If the Golan situation has changed from being a post 1974 DMZ to being part of the Syrian civil war that requires a mandate review. If the review decides on continuing a UN presence in a civil war zone, that has implications for the size, equipment and logistical support of the new force which would be well beyond the current limited capabilities. It is also an issue beyond the narrow confines of the Golan. The jihadists will not stop at the Lebanese or Israeli borders and they will try to brush aside – by violence – any intervening UN presence. In that event, the Israelis will strike first (hopefully sensible UN diplomats will have negotiated an agreement with Israel for the safe evacuation of UN troops before they begin any operations). This is a level of danger way beyond what our troops should be expected to face.

    • dsmooney September 3, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

      I thought I had managed not to score political points. If that had been my aim I would have mentioned Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan’s interview on Monday’s News at One

      I had two points to make:

      1. That talk of Irish withdrawal was not helpful and that the Govt, esp the Minister for Defence and Taoiseach, should be stressing the training, equipment and, above all, the experience of the troops currently deployed to UNDOF (and their replacements at the upcoming rotation). There is an important general point here – if others believe that the way to undermine this mission is to make it difficult for the Irish troops to stay – then that is what they will do.

      2. The second point is that while I accept that we do not want to be involved in the Syrian Civil War, the reality is that the Civil war started two years before we deployed there (in Sept 13) – so it was a factor that was weighed up when deciding to join UNDOF. The UNDOF mandate has been discussed and passed by the UNSC at least twice since we deployed – in Dec 13 and June 14, it is up for it’s regular six monthly renewal in December. It cannot and will not be changed before the next rotation (in 2/3 weeks) and the Govt is wrong to allow the notion to circulate that it can.

      When the former Defence Minister, Alan Shatter, was reviewing the troops currently serving in UNDOF he specifically mentioned these concerns (and correctly so). He said:

      The escalation of the conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic has affected the UNDOF area of operations significantly in the past year or so. UNDOF remains an important element in ensuring stability on the Golan and in the region. Last year, at the request of the United Nations, and following Government and Dáil approval, the deployment of the 43rd Infantry Group to UNDOF on the Golan Heights was successfully completed on 28 September 2013. The continued support of troop contributing countries such as Ireland to the UNDOF mission is vital to allow the mission to continue the implementation of its mandate in a safe and secure manner. Helping to maintain the 40 year old ceasefire between Israel and Syria represents an important contribution to preventing further instability in the region.

      To assist in this task and given the evolving security situation in the UNDOF area of operation, the Security Council has adjusted the posture and operations of the mission, including enhancing the self-defence capabilities of UNDOF, increasing the force strength to the maximum of 1,250 and improving its self-defence equipment

      Where we can agree is that there should be a review – indeed it is Defence Force policy that there be ongoing threat assessments carried out in mission areas. DFHQ continually reviews both personal equipment and force assets, to ensure that Defence Forces personnel are appropriately equipped to fulfil their roles. I understand that there is a planned UN review of how UNDOF is operating, this is at the request of the Philippine DF, who are not happy with some recent actions. For us the issue is clear: if our DFHQ personnel feel that the threat level is not justified then the troops should and must be withdrawn.

      Though it is long before my time there, this is what happened in Somalia (a while before the UN realised that it was unsustainable and pulled the entire mission).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: