War Alarms Went off, but…
Fri 21 Jun 2024 - 11:09

“Lebanon Debate”

Amid Israeli intimidation campaigns against Lebanon and escalating tensions on the ground on the southern front, diplomatic efforts, including French and US mediations, remain in course. All of which aim to prevent a pivotal speech and calm the situation of the front. These efforts indicate that communication channels “under the table” remain active despite the long path leading to war; a path both parties crossed. Former Lebanese Ambassador to Washington, Riad Tabbarah, believes that the war is far from taking place despite the alarming sounds of “controlled” military operations that remain in this state for now and the heightened rhetoric from both Hezbollah and Israel.

In an interview with Lebanon Debate, the former ambassador rules out the possibility of the situation on the front escalating to the point of an explosion. He referenced US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's statement that neither Hezbollah nor Israel seek a large-scale war. Tabbarah suggested that the outbreak of war could only occur due to a "foolish," "reckless," or "unintended" move by Netanyahu that could lead to broader conflict.

However, multiple countries would stand against such escalation, especially since decision-making capitals are actively working to promote calm and prevent war.

Based on the above, Tabbarah asserted that despite daily Israeli threats, scenarios of ground war, invasion, or aggression are unrealistic. He indicated that all parties are currently working to prevent further escalation, alongside the ongoing efforts of US envoy Amos Hochstein to calm tensions on the southern front. It should be noted that no party has an interest in war, even Israel and Iran that is relying on its “balance of terror” through Hezbollah's deterrent force and missile capabilities.

Regarding Hochstein's mission, Tabbarah criticized media portrayals as inaccurate. He talked about his experience during negotiation sessions in Washington amid the "Grapes of Wrath" war against Lebanon. (an Israeli code name, known in Lebanon as the April War, 1996). He recalled how negotiations were often portrayed as failures or under “intense” pressure. In fact, they occurred without any external pressure, and progress was achieved gradually until a ceasefire was reached.

Concerning Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah's recent threat to Cyprus and the repercussions on relations between both countries, Ambassador Tabbarah believes that while the crisis is emerging, it will not escalate further. He views the current situation as being managed within diplomatic frameworks, involving assimilation and briefings between both parties. Therefore, the issue will not deteriorate, and it is way too early to even mention a crisis.

However, Israel may decide to attack Lebanon use the Cypriot territory for operations. In the event of such scenario, Hezbollah’s reaction would be constrained by the logistical challenge of the 190-kilometer distance to Cyprus. For this reason, it is very unlikely that Hezbollah would resort to firing rockets toward Cyprus as a response.

In conclusion, Tabbarah believes that Lebanon is suffering from enough crises and therefore cannot afford to initiate a diplomatic crisis with Cyprus. He finally added that Lebanon has not yet reached a heightened state of tension following Nasrallah's recent statements.

!... طبول الحرب تُقرَع ولكن
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