The atmosphere in Lebanon is electrified in the last two weeks after the announcement of the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri from Riyadh. Although, according to Reuters, the resignation was made under pressure from Saudi Arabia, it is certain that its timing is not accidental if we take into account the prevailing international climate and the atmosphere in the Middle East in general. Many international sources have confirmed the visit of President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, where he had a secret meeting with Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and that the Hezbollah case dominated their talks. All of the above confirms more or less the rapid developments within the closed circles of Washington, Tel Aviv, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, where the elimination as soon as possible of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militia, is being discussed. Military intervention is the only option at the table.
Many facts prove this, the most important of which is the confirmation by the US State Department that it considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization. A Western source informed me that the Israeli Defense Ministry has developed more batteries of the anti-missile shield system in northern and central Israel in recent days, as it has increased its army’s state of alarm to the highest. As for the Arab countries, Riyadh, Kuwait, the UAE and Bahrain have asked their citizens to leave Lebanon immediately. The position of Saudi Arabia that Hezbollah is behind the missile launch in the sky of the city of Riyadh aims to prepare us for the future. In view of a war against Hezbollah, I will try to explain in detail the choices of countries associated with Lebanon in relation to this choice.
Israeli hostility to the Hezbollah militia has not been born today, but dates back to the previous century. However, the recent war between the two sides in July 2006, despite Israel’s pursuit of imposing its terms on Lebanon, gave an important lesson to portray the potential of the militia. Will Israel launch an open war with Hezbollah to appease the Arab side? At the military level in the 2006 war, Hezbollah had 50.000 small and medium range missiles. Western reports now indicate that it has more than 150.000 missiles, some of which are long-range. Iran has also been able to provide it with SAM anti-air defense system that could pose a threat to Israeli helicopters. There are reports that Hezbollah has Russian Yakhont anti-ship missiles. In this context, it is clear that any war of Israel against Hezbollah will be very costly. In particular, its eradication may require a terrestrial invasion, which may be impossible due to Lebanese Shi’a support to the militia, and the bill will be very high. I think that Israel is too smart to take such a step.
It is certain that, Donald Trump before even taking office in the White House, Iran and Hezbollah were at the top of his list of an imminent armed conflict. The Republican presidents have always been warlords. However, the atmosphere in the Middle East is different now that the Russian bear in the Syrian territory supports the violent Assad regime. Both Iran and Hezbollah are partners of Moscow against ISIS and the Syrian opposition. Therefore, a strike in Hezbollah by any international force in Syria is not possible without the Russian green light. Hezbollah now has more than four large military bases in Syria, south of the Syrian city of Homs and north and south of Damascus. Even a hit in Hezbollah within Lebanon would make no difference for Moscow because it would lead to the withdrawal of Syrian militia forces and therefore Moscow would be called to pay the bill of increase of its troops to the front line, something that cannot be accepted right now. Will Washington bypass Moscow? In my personal opinion and leaks about the Putin-Trump meeting in Vietnam last week, Washington does not want to face Moscow now.
France is one of the European countries most related to the issue of Lebanon. French President Macron added Riyadh to his last international visit where he met with Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. In this meeting the Lebanese envelope and the resignation of President Saad Hariri were also the most important issues. A French source has assured me that Paris considers the stability of Lebanon essential and is somehow opposed to any military action against Hezbollah, believing that the only solution is the negotiating table. On the other hand, Greece is connected in various ways to the events in the territory of Lebanon. A diplomatic source assured me that Washington had asked Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos for the expansion of the NATO base in Souda, Crete. He also pointed out to me that the base has been in increased readiness since the previous week, which confirms that it will be the key to any possible military action against Hezbollah after being used by US fighter jets for their air raids. The war may not stop at the border of Lebanon. Iran, the most important source of oil in Greece, will participate in it, and therefore the inconvenience of Greece due to a possible energy crisis is unavoidable.
Yes, there are abnormal signs in the region, and yes, there is great hostility from most international and regional forces against Hezbollah, but that does not negate the fact that any future war will not be confined to the Lebanese territories. In the immediate future, no military action is planned against Hezbollah, but that does not mean that the war will never come.