AFG launches Sky Bridge complex in New Capital    Dahab Development opens reservation for ITC project at New Capital    Egypt is Canada's top trading partner in Africa: Ambassador Louis Dumas    Hope Givers Foundation honours Egyptologist Ali Abu Dashish    EJB forms new board, pledges to support national economy    Travel bans due to Omicron "hammer blow" to South Africa's local economy recovery: official    Egypt celebrates Day of Mediterranean    MICO entertainment platform enters Egyptian market    Health Ministry advises public to adhere to protective measures to tackle Omicron variant    Art D'Egypte concludes 4th contemporary art exhibition "Forever is Now" at Giza Plateau    Austrian Cultural Forum in Cairo to launch exhibition highlighting Arab-Austrian ties    Egypt, Israel sign deal sign MoU to increase gas supplies, hydrogen transport    Egypt's stocks end week in green as benchmark EWX 30 surges 0.69%    Mortada Mansour sets road map for Zamalek, after normalization committee depart    I seek to secure stable financial sources to build strong judo team: Motei Fakhr El-Din    Egyptian karate players dazzle world in UAE    Orascom Construction joins consortium to develop Egypt's first green hydrogen production facility    Egypt's high committee to organise COP27 convenes to review preparations    98 potential candidates run for Libyan presidency    'Lake Victoria – Mediterranean' navigation corridor awaits feasibility studies, funds: official    Egypt's trade with Nile basin countries climbs 26% y-o-y in 9 months    Palestine's Foreign Ministry rejects UK's decision to designate Hamas as terror group    Egypt selected to host COP27 international climate conference in 2022    Number of British tourists to Egypt seen hitting 500,000 this winter – envoy    The unvaccinated prohibited from entry to Egypt state institutions starting December 1    Egypt, Greece ink deal for first subsea power link between Europe and Africa    SCOHRE sparks discussion on harm reduction, tobacco control    Egypt to receive first of six high-trains from Spain's Talgo in mid-November    Egypt's iron and steel exports jump 197% in 8 months    Ethiopia halts work at its embassy in Egypt for 'economic reasons'    It's a bit frustrating to draw at home: Real Madrid keeper after Villarreal game    Russia says it's in sync with US, China, Pakistan on Taliban    Shoukry reviews with Guterres Egypt's efforts to achieve SDGs, promote human rights    Sudan says countries must cooperate on vaccines    Johnson & Johnson: Second shot boosts antibodies and protection against COVID-19    Egypt to tax bloggers, YouTubers    Egypt's FM asserts importance of stability in Libya, holding elections as scheduled    Brazil calls up 8 EPL players for World Cup qualifying    We mustn't lose touch: Muller after Bayern win in Bundesliga    Egypt records 36 new deaths from Covid-19, highest since mid June    Egypt sells $3 bln US-dollar dominated eurobonds    Sisi calls on House, Senate to commence second legislative sessions on 3, 5 October    Gamal Hanafy's ceramic exhibition at Gezira Arts Centre is a must go    Italian Institute Director Davide Scalmani presents activities of the Cairo Institute for ITALIANA.IT platform    Qa'a play showing at Lycee El Horreya Theatre, Alexandria is a must go    APO Group enters new exclusive agreement with Getty Images on African press releases and images    On International Museum Day, Egypt opens two new museums at Cairo Airport    Old Cairo's Al-Fustat will be revamped on Egyptian President's directives    

Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.

New tensions in Lebanon
Published in Ahram Online on 10 - 08 - 2021

For almost a week, Israel and militants from the Iran-backed Lebanese Shia group Hizbullah have been carrying out attacks against each other across the border between Israel and Lebanon.
It is not clear why either side has chosen to take part in a military escalation at this time. Although Israel attacked Hizbullah targets in the border area last year, the last time there were major security tensions was at least six years ago.
Based on Israeli and Hizbullah statements, there is little appetite for another full-scale war like that which took place between the two sides in 2006.
Spokesman for the Israeli military Amnon Shefler said that "we do not wish to escalate to a full war, yet of course we are very prepared for that." He said that Israel believes that Hizbullah does not want to escalate the situation either, which is why it had targeted "open areas".
A speech last Sunday by Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah also reflected the Shia group's keenness to show its preparedness for war, yet without stressing any urgent need for it.
Nasrallah, who has been speaking to his supporters from unknown locations via video link for years, said Hizbullah would respond in a "appropriate and proportionate" manner to any Israeli airstrikes on Lebanon.
He said that "our response was linked to the Israeli strikes that have occurred in south Lebanon for the first time in 15 years," adding that "we are not looking for war, and we do not want to head towards war, but we are ready for it."
No serious damage or loss of life has taken place in the fighting thus far. But the situation is alarming for many international actors, including Washington and the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
The head of mission of UNIFIL contacted both parties as soon as the violence began. UNIFIL said it was working with the Lebanese army to "ensure immediate follow-up on the group and to reinforce security along the Blue Line" between Israel and Lebanon.
This was on 4 August when Israel said that Hizbullah had launched rocket attacks into its territory, with one rocket exploding in an open site and the other being intercepted by the Iron Dome missile-defence system. Israel responded with an artillery operation.
On the following day, Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV station reported that Israel had launched two aerial operations on the outskirts of the town of Mahmudiyah in Lebanon 12 km from the Israeli border. According to the Lebanese army, 92 Israeli artillery shells were fired towards southern Lebanon after the Hizbullah rocket attacks.
It said that it had started an investigation into who had fired the rockets. Last Friday, the Israeli army said that Iron Dome had intercepted 10 of 19 rockets sent into its territory by Hizbullah. Six of them fell in open areas, and three ended up inside south Lebanon, it added.
Observers are linking events in south Lebanon to July's alleged attack by Iran on an Israeli-managed oil tanker in the Gulf that led to the deaths of two crew members, one British and one Romanian.
Tehran has denied any involvement in the attack. Israel, the US, and Britain have said they will work with their allies to provide a response to the attack on the tanker.
Hizbullah is a major ally of Iran in the region, and the border clashes in Lebanon could be understandable in this context, observers note. But perhaps the bigger issue is the implications of the Israeli-Hizbullah conflict for Lebanon itself.
Israel and the US have called on the Lebanese government, an administration currently suffering from an apparently endless list of socio-economic and political challenges, to act against Hizbullah.
The US called on the Lebanese government to "urgently prevent such attacks and bring the area under its control." A harsher tone was offered by Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who stressed that "the country of Lebanon and the army of Lebanon have to take responsibility for what happens in their backyard."
Lebanese political leaders have expressed concerns at these developments, with Samir Geagea, leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces and no friend of Hizbullah, saying that "what is happening in the south is dangerous, very dangerous, especially in the light of the great tensions emerging in the region."
Lebanese President Michel Aoun, an ally of Hizbullah, said that this was the first time Israel had used aerial power to attack targets in Lebanon since 2006. He said this suggested "an intention to escalate the attacks".
Nasrallah also pointed to the implications of the border violence for Lebanon, warning Israel not to "miscalculate by saying that Hizbullah is too busy with Lebanon's problems."
Rabha Seif Allam, a Lebanon expert at the Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, said that Hizbullah was more interested in solving Lebanon's political problems, mainly the formation of a new government.
"Hizbullah doesn't want to be responsible for dealing with Lebanon's challenges on its own, which will probably be the case if no new government is formed," Allam said. He said this might be different from the position of Aoun, who is the "only winner from the current deadlock".
Since last August's devastating port blasts in the Lebanese capital Beirut, two Sunni leaders, diplomat Mustapha Adib and former premier Saad Al-Hariri, have both failed to form a new coalition government in Lebanon.
Najib Mikati, a businessman and former prime minister, is now trying to get this done, though he has warned that the process is taking longer than expected. In addition to the political uncertainty, Lebanon is also suffering from an economic crisis characterised by fuel, electricity, and medicine shortages and a currency collapse.
Nasrallah, allied with Aoun as the country's president and the Shia Amal Movement leader Nabih Berri as the speaker of the Lebanese parliament, said in June that "I want to stress that I promised, and I'm still promising... that if we have to go to Iran to get petrol and fuel oil we will, even if it causes problems."
Among these "problems" could be the refusal of western and Arab governments to back Lebanon economically until a new coalition government is in place.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 12 August, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

Clic here to read the story from its source.