Kazakhstan will deploy troops to Lebanon to support the United Nations peacekeeping mission there, after Kazakhstan’s senate ratified a memorandum that was signed with India in August.
“The document defines the procedure for joint deployment of a peacekeeping contingent, including issues of command and control, financial and medical support, and training of personnel,” Talgat Mukhtarov, Kazakhstan’s Deputy Defense Minister said Thursday, according to a report by Kazinform.
The rotational deployment will include 120 servicemen from Kazakhstan, who, together with 128 Indian peacekeepers, will patrol the UN-drawn border between Israel and Lebanon.
Earlier this month, Kazakhstan’s Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov met Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to discuss the upcoming deployment.
“For the first time in history, our countries will unite to deploy a peacekeeping contingent, and this should be an example for other states. The parties will learn a lot from each other and strengthen their peacekeeping mission,” Sitharaman said, according to TASS.
The United Nations Interim Force (UNIFIL) is deployed in southern Lebanon in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Lebanon War, a 34-day military conflict between Hezbollah paramilitary forces and the Israel Defense Forces. Together with the Lebanese army, roughly 11,000 military servicemen from 41 countries patrol what is over 49-mile border between Lebanon and Israel, known as the Blue Line.
Officials in Astana believe Kazakhstan’s participation in the UN-led mission will contribute to strengthening international security and also strengthen the authority of Kazakhstan as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.
At the same time, some say that the mission will help increase the level of combat readiness of Kazakhstani forces.
“This is a combat experience, any state needs to check its soldiers and give them the opportunity to develop. A soldier should be able to conduct full-fledged military operations, but in this case it is an ideal option: the danger level is lower, and there is an opportunity to observe and take full-fledged military operations in the most critical situations,” Islam Kuraev, a political expert, said in an interview with Caravan earlier this year.
While India’s peacekeepers have been present in Lebanon since 1978, for Kazakhstan, this will be the first major peacekeeping activity led by the UN and the second major mission the Kazakhstani military has undertaken since the NATO-led operation in Iraq in the early 2000s. Then, Kazakhstan sent nearly 300 peacekeepers to Iraq, where KAZBAT, or the Kazakhstani battalion, was responsible for destroying more than four million explosive ordnances.
Since Kazakhstan gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the country has sent small contingents of soldiers to Haiti, Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia.