Accusations that the Trump administration is helping to preserve Hezbollah’s grip on Lebanon come just days after a large, bipartisan delegation of lawmakers petitioned the Trump administration to present them with a plan on how it will stop Iran’s growing military presence in Syria, where the Islamic Republic has been building weapons factories that arm Hezbollah.
The situation is said to have fueled ongoing diplomatic tensions between the Trump administration and regional allies such as Israel, which has warned for some time that Iran’s presence across the region is emboldening Hezbollah and setting the stage for a brutal regional war.Sponsored Links
Some experts have conceded in recent weeks that the United States has found itself more in line with Iran’s interests than those of allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, who have been seeking to combat Iran’s military efforts across the region.
“It is plausible that the Saudis are trying to create the context for a different means of contesting Iran in Lebanon: an Israeli-Hezbollah war,” Shapiro wrote in Haaretz.
On Friday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah made a similar claim, saying in an address that he obtained intelligence that “Saudi Arabia has asked Israel to strike Lebanon” and even offered “tens of billions of dollars” in exchange. Yet Nasrallah assessed that Israel would be unwilling to do so.
In addition, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said last month that a future war with Hezbollah would likely not be a Lebanon war, but a Lebanon-Syria-Gaza war, as the terrorist organization could rally other Iranian-backed groups, including Hamas, to fight alongside it in those areas.
Israel’s political and military leadership appears to have concluded that a conflict with Lebanon’s Hezbollah is becoming increasingly likely, despite months of growing warnings that a third Lebanese war would be more dangerous and deadly than the last war in 2006.
The mounting tensions on the northern border with Syria and Lebanon have increased in recent months as Israel has recognised its assumption that Hezbollah – a key ally fighting with the Assad regime – would be chewed up in a protracted Syrian conflict is badly mistaken as the war has turned rapidly in Bashar al-Assad’s favour.
Saudi Arabia has ordered its citizens to leave Lebanon immediately, escalating a regional standoff with Iran centred on the fragile state, which it claims is being run by Tehran’s proxy, Hezbollah.
The move follows a week of bellicose rhetoric from the Sunni Arab powerhouse about its Shia rival, drawing strong support from Donald Trump and Israel, all three of whom insist Iran is forging strongholds across the region.
The standoff has taken tensions between Riyadh and Tehran to new levels and raised fears that decades of distrust and manoeuvrings between the two may be building towards a military confrontation, underwritten by the Trump administration and joined by Israel.
We’ve grown accustomed to small, short conflicts that barely touch the economy. Next time around, war with Hezbollah is likely to hurt
Maybe that explains why even though many experts warn the risk of conflict with Hezbollah is greater than any time in years, neither investors nor business people seem to be giving the thought the slightest attention. The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s TA-35 index of large-caps has fallen 2% in the past month, but that’s mainly due to Teva Pharmaceuticals’ woes. The shekel, meanwhile, has strengthened against the dollar.
That nonchalance is based on a scenario that is no longer valid.
But the situation now is unusually tense. The resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is shaking Lebanese politics and signals a new Saudi willingness to take on Iran with results that no one can predict. Iran is moving to enhance its military position in Syria, including plans to build air and naval installations there that Israel sees as an existential threat. Syria itself has grown more obstreperous about Israeli raids. The conditions are all there for one of the parties to make a wrong move and set off a war no one wants, that everyone will pay for dearly.
Over the last three months or so, a spate of articles have appeared with happy titles like “Israel’s Next War with Hezbollah Will Be Worse Than the Last,” “The New Hezbollah: Israel’s Next War Will Be An Awful Mess,” “The Next Hezbollah-Israel Conflict,” and “Israel’s Coming War with Hezbollah.”
All those articles, some from major foreign policy think tanks, seem to share the view of a leading Israeli military planner that the question is “not if, but when,” and that the confrontation will be, to paraphrase Hobbes, “nasty, brutish, [but not] short.” Michael Eisenstadt and Jeffrey White of the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Policy write in The American Interest that the next war will be “the most destructive Arab-Israeli war yet.” The American Enterprise Institute’s Thomas Donnelly recently predicted that the confrontation would be “a savage thing, that might escalate in unpredictable ways.” All agree that the next war will be far more brutal and leave greater devastation on both sides than the 2006 Second Lebanon War.
So two months after his 32nd birthday, the Crown Prince has established himself as a despot, albeit one hailed by the West as an enlightened visionary. He has tightened a military alliance with Israel, all but declared war on Iran and prepared Lebanon as the first scene of this war — with Hezbollah as the first target.
Now that the Iranians have sole control over Lebanon, their eyes are set on the Gaza Strip.
Hamas, for its part, is thirsting for Iranian resources. Hamas knows that it will have to pay a price.
Iran and Hezbollah are working with Hamas to establish a “joint front” against Israel.
A Saudi minister on Monday accused Lebanon of declaring war on the Gulf kingdom by failing to reign in the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group, as tensions between Riyadh and Tehran spiked over the resignation of Lebanon’s prime minister and fighting in Yemen.
“We will treat the government of Lebanon as a government declaring a war because of Hezbollah militias,” Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan told Saudi news station Al-Arabiya.
Hezbollah is planning to withdraw its forces from Syria in 2018 in order to bolster its presence along the border with Israel, Lebanese news site Lebanon 24 reported on Tuesday.
According to the report, Hezbollah’s high command issued a new order mandating that the last remaining Hezbollah fighters must leave Syria in early 2018.
For the past five years, Hezbollah forces have been fighting alongside the Syrian military in the country’s brutal civil war. It is believed that the Shiite terrorist group, alongside other Iranian-backed militias, helped turned the tide in favor of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The measure is designed to ensure the organization would be able to have a sizable presence along the Lebanese border with Israel should hostilities resume.