23.11.2023 Author: Alexandr Svaranc

“Hezbollah” maintains the threat of entering the Arab-Israeli conflict


The pro-Iranian Shi’ite military organisation and political party Hezbollah (“Party of Allah”) is known to advocate the establishment of an Islamic state in Lebanon along the lines of Iran. Initially, this structure supported the just struggle of the Palestinians against Israel, for which it was recognized by Tel Aviv as a terrorist organisation. With the beginning of the anti-Israeli military conflict of Hamas on 7 October this year, “Hezbollah declared its readiness to support the Arabs the very next day, and to enter the war if the IDF launched a ground operation against the Gaza Strip.

On the night of 26-27 October, Israel effectively moved to launch a ground operation called “Lethal Attack” in the Gaza Strip. “Hezbollah responded to these Israeli actions by firing rockets and putting its fighters on full alert for orders to go to war against Israel. In fact, Hezbollah is pulling additional forces of the Israeli army and its Western coalition allies on itself. It should not be overlooked that the IDF is carrying out pinpoint strikes in Lebanon to hit and destroy Hezbollah military installations and to localize the military threat from the north.

Naturally, the strike on Al-Ahli hospital and the launch of the ground operation in the Gaza Strip, supported by combined air and sea attacks, resulted in numerous civilian casualties and caused a large-scale humanitarian crisis. Israel’s allies (primarily the USA) in negotiations with the Iranian side are trying to convey to Tehran and other Hamas partners their categorical position on the inadmissibility of internationalization and geographical expansion of the anti-Israeli front, with a warning of the irreversibility of retaliatory hard strikes using the combat capabilities of American military bases and additional forces and means (including two aircraft carriers, landing ships, marines, etc.) sent to the epicenter of the conflict.

Meanwhile, Iran, not formally accepting the position of the United States and Great Britain, is actually forced to conduct active diplomacy to probe the positions of the Arab East and Turkey in terms of assessing the real prospects for expanding the anti-Israeli front with the participation of a wide range of Islamic countries in the region. It is known that so far, the Houthis of Yemen, Shiite groups of Iraq, the Afghan Taliban (an international organization banned in the Russian Federation), the Lebanese Hezbollah and Syria have expressed their readiness to enter into a military conflict against Israel on the side of Hamas.

However, it is possible that these forces are not enough to resist the Israel Defense Forces, provided its active military support from the United States, Britain, Germany, France and Italy. Moreover, the same Saudi Arabia and Jordan refuse to allow Houthi and Taliban combat units (an international organization banned in the Russian Federation) through their territory to the borders of Israel. Lebanon and Syria do not have similar problems for objective reasons of geographical proximity to the Jewish State.

Turkey has so far, from all platforms and tribunes, stigmatized the Israeli authorities for “war crimes” and the humanitarian catastrophe in the Gaza Strip, verbally supported Hamas and called its struggle a just and liberating mission. Recep Erdoğan used the platform of the X Summit of Turkic States in Astana for this purpose the other day (3 November). In condemnation of Tel Aviv’s aggressive and disproportionate military actions against the Gaza Strip, Turkey recalled its ambassador from Israel for consultations, but refrained from severing diplomatic relations (e.g., following the example of Christian Bolivia). In addition to Turkey, a number of other states (including Jordan, Bahrain, Chile, Colombia) have made similar diplomatic moves against Israel (in particular, recalling their ambassador). And South American countries such as Brazil, Cuba and Venezuela have strongly criticised Israel for its grossly discriminatory actions against Palestinians.

Of course, the political solidarity of much of the international community with Palestine is a serious signal to the Government of Israel. At the same time, Tel Aviv responds to such decisions of foreign countries either by expressing regret, withdrawing its diplomats or curtailing economic activity with them. Although, for example, 40 per cent of exported oil from Azerbaijan and Iraq continues to flow to Israel through the territory of Turkey.

Erdoğan now says that all the blame for the crimes against the civilian population of Gaza lies directly with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is no longer a person with whom Turkey can talk. “From now on,” Erdoğan says, “we have crossed him out”. Apparently, the cautious Turkish head of state is counting on the fact that protests against Netanyahu himself are already maturing in Israel and his candidacy will no longer be supported by the US.

Turkey has so far concentrated on “verbal diplomacy” and humanitarian aid to the Palestinians. In particular, Erdoğan and diplomat Fidan are actively proposing an international mechanism of guarantors of a future independent Palestine with their participation. Turkey’s president marvels at the West’s double standards. Indeed, if “Greece can be a guarantor country in Cyprus, Britain can also be a guarantor country, and why not Turkey, why not a similar structure in Gaza? Turkey, Erdoğan believes, should take the leading role of guarantor in Gaza. This will be a development that shapes history, the present and the future.”

All of this could be the subject of subsequent long or endless negotiations on the fate of Palestine and Turkey’s role. But their approach and the parameters of solutions obviously depend largely on the outcome of the conflict on the ground. Diplomacy must accompany the ceasefire process, but its effectiveness in a “hot war” situation depends to a large extent on the military component. In the meantime, Turkey, like most Arab states, does not want to go to war with Israel and prefers political consultations with loud statements. A meeting in Ankara between the presidents of Turkey and Iran on the Gaza Strip has already been announced for the end of November this year.

On November 4, a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Palestine started in Amman to develop a unified Arab position on the conflict in the Gaza Strip and present it to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who is on a working visit to the Middle East.

Meanwhile, a considerable part of the pro-Palestinian community was waiting with great confidence for the speech of Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, previously announced on November 3 after the expiration of the ultimatum presented to Israel by the Lebanese organization.

In particular, Hezbollah, for the actions of the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip, called on Israel to cease hostilities against Hamas and the Palestinians by November 3, threatening otherwise to enter the war. However, in his speech, the head of Hezbollah showed caution and restraint. The theses of his speech were reduced to political generalizations and declarations. In particular, Nasrallah stated that:

– The victory of the Gaza Strip and Hamas is “in the interests of all neighboring countries”;

– the Hezbollah movement joined the military operations on October 8;

– The likelihood of a large-scale war between Hezbollah and Israel is real.

At the same time, he called on Arab countries that supply oil to Israel to stop exporting it to the Jewish state. In the final part of his speech, the Hezbollah leader warned that “Israel will commit the biggest stupidity in its history if it decides to attack Lebanon”. Some may ask, why hasn’t Israel committed stupidity in the Gaza Strip yet, or is this not a fatal stupidity in their history?

However, if you think about the refrain of this speech by the head of the Lebanese organization, it becomes obvious that Hezbollah will not take a step on its own without coordination (approval or command) with Tehran. Why should they prematurely open fire from the Israeli and Western armada against Lebanon if the Iranian Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian continues political consultations and suggests holding a conference of the foreign ministers of Arab and Islamic countries of the region on the topic of Gaza in the near future?

Iran is still hoping to attract the Arab countries of the Persian Gulf and Turkey into a single coalition and present a united front against Israel and the United States, and not expose itself to the blow of a powerful enemy. If Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi is scheduled to visit Turkey at the end of November to consult with President Recep Erdoğan on the topic of Gaza, then most likely no expansion of the anti-Israel front will take place until December. Simply because there is no unity among the Arab and Muslim countries of the region on the issue of military cooperation with Hamas against Israel.

What can happen in the current month at the front – nobody knows- but also depends on the ability of the Hamas resistance. By December, several options for the development of Islamic resistance to Israel are possible:

  1. The Arab countries, Turkey and Iran agree on the formation of a common military-political coalition against Israel, it is decided in which directions a new front will be opened.
  2. A unified Islamic coalition against Israel is being formed, where the role and range of participation of the alliance members are differentiated. For example:
  3. a) during the hostilities, Arab countries stop all oil and gas supplies to Israel, and Turkey, accordingly, suspends the transit of oil from Azerbaijan and Iraq to Israel on its territory;
  4. b) Arab countries provide financial assistance to the resistance front, Turkey is limited to diplomatic support of the front, and Iran heads the front itself.
  5. Iran accuses its Arab and Turkish partners of complicity with Israel and the United States, and itself leads the front of resistance to the Zionist regime, which in fact means Iranian leadership in the Islamic world.
  6. The parties do not agree on joint cooperation in the fight against Israel and the United States, cease military and financial support for Hamas and agree with the will of the American dictate in the Middle East (an unlikely prospect).
  7. The parties find foreign policy and military support in the person of one of the key world powers (for example, China) and issue an ultimatum to Israel, the violation of which leads to the internationalization of the Middle East conflict and the threat of a global war.

Perhaps, from the point of view of theory and analysis, within the framework of one article, it is possible to describe a similar scenario for the development of the situation in the short term of the ongoing military conflict. However, a lot of accidents (in particular, the course of hostilities on the ground) can change all sorts of logical chains of an outside observer and expert. In the meantime, the threat of the expansion of the anti-Israeli front (including the entry of Hezbollah into the military conflict) saved.


Alexander SVARANTS – PhD of Political Science, Professor, especially for the online magazine «New Eastern Outlook».

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