Lebanon lacks optimism over international warnings

Lebanon lacks optimism over international warnings

News from Lebanon indicates a daily shift towards a more pessimistic and grimmer outlook (File/AFP)
News from Lebanon indicates a daily shift towards a more pessimistic and grimmer outlook (File/AFP)
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News from Lebanon indicates a daily shift toward a grimmer and more pessimistic outlook. Despite claiming to oppose this trend, many parties seem to be sliding further into worsening conditions, like sleepwalkers heading toward disaster.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned days ago that “the world cannot afford another Gaza in Lebanon,” but reports from the ground indicate a serious escalation, prompting concern.

This comes amid rising threats between Hezbollah and the Israeli authorities, along with US envoy Amos Hochstein issuing warnings to all involved during a crucial US election year.

In Israel, the departure of two moderate voices from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's inner circle has left him largely unchecked.

Netanyahu, seen as one of Israel’s most opportunistic politicians, now faces little restraint against any reckless or exploitative actions.

The departure of former army chiefs of staff Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot from the team managing the “Gaza displacement war” is a significant development. This change is likely to unsettle even Washington’s Republican hawks.

With such pragmatic officials gone and the war Cabinet disbanded, key decisions are now in the hands of opportunistic politicians like Netanyahu and extremist settler ideologues like Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich.

In many cases, experienced and thoughtful military leaders tend to value human life, peace and understanding more than aggressive and populist politicians.

Nasrallah persists in justifying his party’s independent war agenda, sidelining the state’s authority

Eyad Abu Shakra

It is notable how some Israeli military figures, after starting out in militant right-wing roles, later moved toward moderation after witnessing the true costs of war.

Ariel Sharon shifted to the center, while Ezer Weizman even leaned left at times.

This brings to mind a famous quote widely attributed to American Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman: “I am sick and tired of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.”

Following the resignations of Gantz and Eisenkot, the latter having lost his 25-year-old son in the current Gaza conflict, from the war Cabinet, the three extremists — Netanyahu, Ben-Gvir and Smotrich — who have never fought a day, continue to beat the drums, deliver provocative speeches and incite tensions.

What is even more paradoxical is that figures like these, adherents to Torah ideology — Netanyahu claiming such a stance — are adamant about exempting ultrareligious Torah followers from mandatory military service, yet simultaneously exploit Torah and Talmudic texts to justify wars and massacres.

Meanwhile, in Lebanon, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah persists in justifying his party’s independent war agenda, sidelining the state’s authority.

Despite Hezbollah’s months-long adherence to its rules of engagement with Israel, Nasrallah persists in coordinating communications through Nabih Berri, the speaker of Lebanon’s parliament, and his “friend” Hochstein, representing the US — once dubbed the “Great Satan.”

In the past two weeks, alongside the Gaza conflict and escalating threats of war on Lebanon from Netanyahu’s team, tensions have risen on the Lebanese-Israeli front through exchanged messages.

After Hezbollah intensified its drone attacks, countered by Israeli assassinations and displacement operations, Nasrallah opened a new preemptive front — this time targeting Cyprus. This action bypassed any recognition or consultation with recognized state authorities.

Nasrallah has warned Cyprus against allowing Israel to use its airports and bases, threatening that this would drag them into the conflict.

He claimed Hezbollah had intelligence suggesting Israel might strike Lebanon from these locations if Hezbollah targeted Israeli airports.

Nasrallah also hinted at Israel’s fear of Hezbollah invading Galilee amid escalating tensions, emphasizing Hezbollah’s readiness, with new weaponry, for any scenario.

His remarks coincided with Israel revealing operational plans for a potential Lebanon strike and Foreign Minister Israel Katz renewing threats against Hezbollah amid the ongoing border tensions, which have simmered since last October.

Amid UN chief Guterres’ caution and US envoy Hochstein’s urgency for a swift Hezbollah-Israel resolution, Lebanon’s volatile situation remains a concern. This is compounded by domestic woes, while global attention focuses elsewhere.

  • Eyad Abu Shakra is managing editor of Asharq Al-Awsat. X: @eyad1949
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