About a month after the Al-Aqsa Flood operation and a little less than that period after Hezbollah opened the southern Lebanese front against Israel in connection with the events in Gaza, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah broke his silence with a speech preceded by excitement and anticipation, but in reality it did not contain any announcement or surprises. New.
“The speech was neither decisive nor decisive,” according to Dr. Sami Atallah, Director of the Center for Tomorrow’s Studies. Even in tone, the speech was not the loudest for Nasrallah, even though he left all options on the table by declaring that the party had already entered the battle and that “all possibilities on our front are open,” without revealing more within the policy of what he calls “constructive ambiguity.”
Nasrallah defined the features of the southern Lebanon-northern Israel front, which has been open for more than three weeks and witnesses exchange of attacks on a daily basis. According to Joseph Bahout, director of the Issam Fares Center at the American University of Beirut, Nasrallah considers “the Lebanon front a front of support, occupation, and attrition” – that is, support for Hamas and the Palestinian factions by occupying and dispersing the Israeli army.
According to Nasrallah, the Israeli army moved a third of its army to the northern front, which would reduce the pressure on Gaza. However, Nasrallah left the options open and considered that the equation could change according to the situation in Gaza and Israeli behavior in Lebanon.
At a time when Nasrallah was saying that “if Israel thinks of attacking Lebanon or carrying out a pre-emptive operation, it will commit the greatest foolishness in its history,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was threatening “Israel’s enemies on the northern front” and saying: “Do not sin against us because this “It will cost you dearly.”
Balance of deterrence
There are those who believe that the balance of deterrence is what has governed the relationship between Hezbollah and Israel since the end of the July 2006 war, even though the ongoing skirmishes on the border for more than three weeks, during which Hezbollah lost more than fifty-five fighters, are the most dangerous escalation in them.
In this context, although Nasrallah maintained the ambiguity, he “seemed clear in defining the role and independence of the Palestinian resistance with the Hamas attack on October 7, and he also neutralized Iran and Hezbollah from the attack,” according to Atallah.
Nasrallah said that the “Al-Aqsa Flood” operation, which he described as a “great and courageous act,” was an operation whose “decision was 100% Palestinian, its implementation was 100% Palestinian, and its owners hid it from everyone.”
Therefore, he determined that the coordination taking place between the leaders of what is known as the “Axis of Resistance,” which Hezbollah stressed by publishing a photo in recent weeks of Nasrallah, the Deputy Director of the Political Bureau of Hamas, Saleh Al-Arouri, and the Secretary-General of the Islamic Jihad Movement, Ziad Al-Nakhalah, does not negate the independence of the decision-making process. Each of these factions.
This is another point that Bahout touched upon in Nasrallah’s speech, which is related to “the way the axis of resistance works and the way of coordination between the factions, with the margins of freedom for each faction in light of the unity of the cause.” According to Atallah
Between the July War and the Gaza War
In the speech, there was a comparison between the July 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel, which lasted 33 days and began after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers, and the Gaza war.
It seemed as if Nasrallah was targeting more than one side in his approach. First, he addressed Israeli public opinion to remind him that Israel was not able to eliminate Hezbollah as it threatened in that war, and therefore it would not be able to eliminate Hamas, according to his words.
Also, in 2006, Israel did not return its prisoners without compensation, which is what the Israeli government promises to accomplish now in order to recover the prisoners and hostages held by the Palestinian factions in Gaza, led by Hamas.
The July War ended with the declaration of a ceasefire or “hostilities.” This is also a key point in Nasrallah’s speech, according to Bahout, where he addressed the Americans, telling them: “If you do not want escalation, talk to the Israelis and raise the issue of a ceasefire.”
On this issue, and in the context of mentioning the American battleships that moved to the Mediterranean to support Israel, Nasrallah threatened, “We have prepared for it as well,” noting that “those who defeated you in the early eighties are still alive, and with them today are their children and grandchildren.”
What is meant here is the 1983 attack on Marine forces in Beirut, which led to the death of 241 Americans in what is considered the largest incident in terms of the number of deaths in one day in the American military since World War II.
Anyone who feared that Nasrallah would announce the expansion of the front must have breathed a sigh of relief after the speech. The current situation across the border, which despite its danger remains limited and confined, is likely to continue as long as the war in Gaza does not end.
The tremendous excitement that preceded the speech was greatly reduced, but did not disappear. Nasrallah said that what the party is doing in southern Lebanon is “important and influential, but it will not be satisfied with it.” The front is open, developments are moving and changing, and options are open.
As for those who expected greater clarity or fuller answers from Nasrallah, Bahout says, regarding Nasrallah, “what is required of him is to win the battle, not to provide answers.”
The post first appeared on www.bbc.com