Gerald Ford in the Middle East... The Ghost of War Resurfaces
Thu 20 Jun 2024 - 11:26

“Lebanon Debate”

Did American envoy Amos Hochstein acknowledge the failure of his mission to calm the southern Lebanon front? Are the drums of war signaling an imminent escalation? Has Hochstein's initiative to calm this front failed, awaiting the unfolding of today's scene in Gaza?

These questions are being raised among political circles and the public following heightened verbal exchanges and threats in the past 24 hours, which ensued after Hochstein's brief visit to Beirut.

A former ambassador to Washington has linked Hochstein's mission to the upcoming American presidential elections, alongside the current challenge facing the US government to achieve a victory that could support its presidential campaign.

The former ambassador confirmed to “Lebanon Debate” that Secretary of State Antony Blinken has initiated a similar diplomatic effort in the region to Hochstein's, emphasizing that despite the tension on the ground, the situation remains under control as the US has not authorized military action beyond the occupied territories of Palestine.

Simultaneously, the ambassador views the threats as a pressure tactic to accelerate an agreement between Lebanon and Israel, amid intense field activities on the front, but without these activities escalating into complete breakdown.

The former politician also sees two sides to the escalation. The first one being to avoid a direct clash and maintain a measured engagement, and second, to accelerate initiatives and diplomatic pressures in the background to seek a solution.

The starting point is implementing decisions within facilitating work mechanisms that are agreed upon.

However, this does not cancel the fact that this stage is extremely fragile and delicate as betting on the odds can not be allowed. The ambassador noted that the deployment of the Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier and its accompanying fleet to the region recalls the initial stages of conflict in Gaza, where its role was to prevent further escalation

Regarding Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah's threat towards Cyprus, the ambassador said that this matter in itself represents a major problem, pointing out that it is due to the ongoing Israeli maneuvers on the island, especially given significant Israeli investments there.

He concluded that threatening Cyprus, member state of the EU, poses serious repercussions, potentially legitimizing NATO's intervention.

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