Caption: Gone fishing ... UNIFIL and Lebanese Army take part in “Steel Storm," a live fire exercise against targets out to sea, south of Naqoura (Photo cutesy of UNIFIL)
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A long-serving former official has played down changes to UNIFIL's mandate, despite statements and media reports of a significant development. The vague wording of the diplomatically drafted document, passed by the U.N. Security Council Wednesday evening, leaves a lot to be interpreted by the secretary-general, the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon's serving commander, the over 40 troop-contributing countries and the Lebanese government.This means the day-to-day operations of the force will remain largely unchanged, said Timur Goksel, a former UNIFIL spokesman who served for over 20 years.Beary's current position is just his most recent with the force, having been deployed with UNIFIL in 1982, 1989 and 1999 .However, Goksel did say he felt UNIFIL could have avoided responding to the criticism.However, as UNIFIL says repeatedly, it already conducts widespread foot and vehicle patrols, already had the mandate to prevent the illegal spread of non-state arms in the south, and has relative freedom to go where its mandate requires.Ahead of Wednesday's vote, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil hosted a meeting with diplomats from the five permanent Security Council members to insist on the need to renew the UNIFIL mandate unchanged.
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