Written by Darius Shahtahmasebi
A war that took place only a decade ago is set to reignite in the Middle East – but no one is talking about it.
According to Reuters, Lebanese Hezbollah said on Thursday that any future conflict between their forces and Israel could take place inside Israeli territory, a move that is expected to increase tensions between the two militaries even further.
Hezbollah’s leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, also said in a televised live speech that they were dismantling all of its military positions along Lebanon’s eastern border with Syria and that this area would now be patrolled solely by the Lebanese army.
While Reuters notes that some experts see the aims of Nasrallah’s statements as a deterrent, it is worth observing that Israel has been preparing for its rematch with Hezbollah for some time now. Israel previously directly struck Hezbollah targets from within Syria, and a Syrian official responded with a statement that Syria will support Hezbollah against Israel. Hezbollah has been a natural ally of Syria for some time now, even dating back to the reign of Hafez al-Assad, Bashar al-Assad’s father.
Considering there are numerous Iranians on the ground in Syria already, this chain of events could pit Iran directly against Israel. In fact, an Iranian general was assassinated by an Israeli air strike in 2015, an event that received little to no condemnation from the international community (how would Israel react if it was the other way round?)
Even if this war doesn’t erupt into a regional one, Israel has already warned that the next war will not be “simple” or “easy.” A Lebanese commander in turn stated:
“I can assure you we have a nice, shiny new anti-aircraft system to show them…We’ve got heavy long-range missiles, directly from the Russians, that can hit anywhere in Israel.”
“The new cadre of fighters Hezbollah is bringing in is also professionalizing what was previously an explicitly guerrilla-oriented organization. The fight for Syria against the nominally Sunni “Takfiri” (apostate) ISIS, has been a gift to the Shia Hezbollah, spurring recruitment efforts. Put simply, Hezbollah is not just getting better at fighting, its army is also getting bigger.” [emphasis added]
The other crucial omission from western media’s reports on this looming conflict is the fact that in response to Donald Trump’s April strike on the Syrian government, Russia and Iran issued a joint statement together with Hezbollah that the next time such an attack occurs, Syria’s allies will respond with force. This alliance places Russia directly on the side of Hezbollah.
The last battle between the two entities played out in 2006 and was deemed a “failure” for Israel by a government-appointed panel. Considering that this was before Hezbollah survived a six-year-long conflict in Syria, which has only boosted its numbers and battle-hardened its soldiers, the next confrontation with Israel is sure to be bloody.
While sabre-rattling continues between world powers with nuclear capabilities, this looming conflict is being prepared behind the scenes. It was not long ago that these two entities directly fought against each other, and ever since, Israel has practically been begging Hezbollah to respond to the numerous air strikes on its military positions. In that context, Hezbollah has shown extraordinary restraint in launching an attack in retaliation.
What’s going on right now is more than mere provocation; war between Israel and Hezbollah is a very real possibility — in fact, it is technically still ongoing. The potential for this antagonism to spiral out of control is too big to ignore, despite corporate media’s almost complete inattention to it.