Nasrallah’s dilemmas: between Tehran and Beirut – opinion

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Since the start of the war, the border between Israel and Lebanon has changed Variable collision zone. Although the main focus is the fight against Hamas in Gaza, the northern border is undeniably a secondary but active front in this conflict. In the last two weeks, the tension in this area has increased significantly.

The pressing question revolves around whether Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah’s actions on the northern border are merely fulfilling signs of obligation or a deliberate strategy to temporarily destabilize Israel, creating the conditions for a full-scale conflict. A raging battle. Determining Nasrallah’s true intentions is challenging, mainly because even he is unsure of them. In fact, all evidence suggests that a Hamas attack will catch him and his Iranian backers off guard.

In the year Since its founding in 1982, and especially since 1992 under Nasrallah’s leadership, Hezbollah has gradually transformed into a functional movement. Departing somewhat from the strict Islamic revolutionary principles of Khomeini’s teachings, the organization has embraced the Lebanese national identity and is actively integrating itself into the Lebanese political system.

Hezbollah now uses it Significant political influenceHe has the power to veto government decisions. As part of this “Lebanonization” process, Hezbollah emphasizes its role as a Lebanese “shield” against various threats, especially Israel.

However, this “Lebanon” process has always raised serious doubts. While some see it as true evolution, many see it as a shameful move designed to hide the organization’s true purpose. Additionally, in Lebanon’s domestic landscape, Hezbollah is battling a negative public perception of the country’s economic decline and political deadlock.

Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah addressed supporters on screen earlier this month marking the annual Hezbollah Martyrs’ Day in the southern suburbs of Beirut.

Hezbollah problem

Hezbollah finds itself in the difficult position of balancing its credibility as an Iranian proxy and as a patriotic Lebanese entity, as well as its position in the axis of resistance to expand the Islamic revolution and liberate Palestine, positioning itself as Lebanese. Defense base.

Nasrallah is in a difficult dilemma: on the one hand, the ongoing conflict with Israel validates the organization’s goals. However, going against the country’s interests would fundamentally undermine Lebanon’s claim to a “shield”, strengthen internal resistance, and potentially cause irreversible damage – regardless of the potential damage to Israel and perhaps the United States, in addition to the significant damage the organization is capable of.

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This dilemma is leading Nasrallah, at least for the time being, to maintain a position to avoid all-out war, as Lebanon’s domestic concerns outweigh other factors at the moment.

In addition to Hezbollah’s loss of surprise, the Lebanese interior strongly opposes dragging the country into war. In the past four years, Lebanon has experienced the worst economic crisis in its history, due to the lack of a president and ineffective transitional government. Lebanese citizens are well aware that entry into the war would exacerbate an already dire humanitarian and economic crisis and possibly surpass the 2006 war.

of Destruction in Gaza It serves as a sobering warning of the fate that awaits Lebanon if Hezbollah chooses war. At the same time, tens of thousands of Lebanese are fleeing their villages in the southern regions, actively preparing for the coming conflict. It is important to note that Hezbollah’s internal Lebanese considerations align with Iran’s desire not to participate in the war.

Nasrallah wants Israel to play the aggressor

Nasrallah has appeared in two recent speeches to portray Hezbollah as allied with the Palestinians in internal Lebanese affairs. But reading between the lines shows his reluctance to escalate the conflict, especially as he emphasizes that Iran has no prior knowledge of the attack. These remarks have drawn sharp criticism from across the Arab world for portraying Nasrallah as someone who praises resistance and confrontation with Israel, but ultimately abandons the Palestinians in their time of need.

By aligning with the Iranians, Nasrallah is leading a middle-ground strategy aimed at avoiding all-out war by positioning himself as the champion of the opposition’s cause. It seeks to gain recognition for its sustained tactics against Israel, using significant IDF forces on the northern border and forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of northern residents. At the same time, it respects the interpretation of the “rules of the game”, which prevents it from developing into a full-scale war.

Hezbollah’s attack on Israel’s northern border fits into a broader context of pressure from other Iranian proxies in Syria, Iraq and Yemen on the Americans and their Middle East allies to force Israel to accept a joint ceasefire.

As the conflict rages in Gaza, the Iranian-coordinated Middle East axis, Hezbollah-led malign activity on the Lebanese border is expected to continue. This policy of stepping on the ground could backfire: any misstep could easily tip the balance and plunge the northern theater into a war zone that few but the Palestinians want.

But if Nasrallah chooses to escalate the conflict into an all-out war, he would be wise to try to get Israel to strike first. It would be a challenge to justify his self-proclaimed intelligent and calculated decision-maker for instigating a devastating war against the Lebanese people.

His story is perhaps that he views Israel as an aggressor, positioning himself as a Lebanese “shield” to defend and retaliate against Israel’s actions.

Israel has chosen to avoid escalating the conflict in the north and focus its efforts on the southern theater. However, the ongoing war in Gaza, and especially its aftermath, could create an opening for Israel to use military and diplomatic measures to reverse the power shift vis-à-vis Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah has opted to join the Israeli-Hamas ceasefire, but the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict is far from over.

Professor Eli Podeh teaches in the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and serves on the board of Mitvim – Israel’s Institute for Regional Foreign Policies. Ethan Ishai is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies with a focus on Lebanon.







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