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What's next for Saleh Al-Arouri?

2024-02-01 09:37

Issam Khoury

#MiddleEastPolitics , #LebanonCrisis , #HezbollahResponse , #RegionalTensions , #SecurityDynamics , #AssassinationFallout , #GeopoliticalShifts , #StrategicImplications,

What's next for Saleh Al-Arouri?

"Assassination in Lebanon stirs tensions; Hezbollah may respond. Risks of regional escalation and internal division loom, reshaping security dynamics."

"Any assassination targeting any citizen in Lebanon, regardless of their nationality, will be met with a strong response from Hezbollah"[1]. This statement was originally part of a militant speech delivered by the Secretary-General of Hezbollah on August 28, 2023.


This statement was rephrased by Hassan Nasrallah on January 3, 2024, in his speech commemorating the assassination of Qassem Soleimani. He stated, “What happened in the southern suburb 'the assassination of Saleh al-Arouri' is a major and serious crime that cannot be ignored. It does not require much talk, and it will not go unanswered or unpunished. Between us and you, there are the battlefield, the days, and the nights[2].”


The actual assassination of the Deputy Head of the Political Bureau of Hamas, Saleh al-Arouri, in the capital Beirut on January 2, 2024, along with two Palestinian companions and three Lebanese companions, is a dangerous precedent within the calculations of Hezbollah, as the assassination was carried out remotely within Hezbollah's secure security square.


So far, it has not been confirmed whether this assassination was carried out by a drone or through precise missiles launched from a military aircraft flying over Lebanese waters. It is noteworthy that targeting al-Arouri's apartment on the third floor did not cause significant damage to the other apartments or the building itself, suggesting the presence of limited impact explosive devices inside the apartment. This implies the presence of infiltrating spies in sensitive security areas for Hezbollah.


Despite no party adopting the operations, these operations represent highly advanced intelligence and technological capabilities against supporters of the Iranian project. As a result, Hezbollah and Hamas elements in Lebanon may consider changing their operational strategy by fortifying their internal bases before engaging in any external adventures. This includes relocating important Hamas leaders to secure underground facilities, similar to what Hassan Nasrallah has been doing for years. 


It is noteworthy that Hassan Nasrallah's speech came after two bombings at the entrance of the "Golzar Shahid Kerman Cemetery" in southern Iran, during the preparations for the fourth anniversary of Qasem Soleimani's assassination. The cemetery is where his grave is located. The bombings resulted in the death of 103 people and more than 211 injured[3], including civilians and many police officers. This incident has caused confusion among the elements of what they call the Axis of Resistance, including Hassan Nasrallah himself. As a result, he offered condolences to all those he referred to as martyrs, including Saleh al-Arouri, and sought to neutralize Iran's involvement in the decision-making process regarding war and peace, which is followed by Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthi Ansarullah movement.


However, this will undoubtedly diminish their support within Palestinian refugee camps and give an advantage to Fatah movement there. This is not favored by Hezbollah leadership, but it is the optimal choice at present. Any further losses for Hamas in Lebanon will force Hezbollah to escalate battles on the northern front of Israel, which Tehran does not want as it will increase their financial, logistical, and security expenditures. Moreover, the Lebanese parties do not desire this outcome either. Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati stated, "This explosion is definitely intended to involve Lebanon and is a clear response to our efforts to keep the specter of war in Gaza away from Lebanon[4]."


Whether the Lebanese parties accept or reject the war, Lebanon will be caught in political turmoil. 


In the event of war, Lebanon may be divided into two states: a devastated southern state with ongoing battles involving Hezbollah and Palestinian organizations against Israel, and a second state stretching from Beirut to the Syrian border, serving as a home for displaced individuals from southern Lebanon. Hezbollah is aware of this scenario, and it is a concern for all Christian and Sunni parties. Therefore, if Hezbollah decides to attack Israel, their optimal choice may be to ignite the Golan front, especially since Russian military intelligence has withdrawn from the area. This justifies the increase in the number of Shia fighters in southern Damascus over the past two months.





[1] Speech by Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah on the occasion of the anniversary of the second liberation/YouTube/August 28, 2023



[2] Speech by Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General of the Lebanese Hezbollah, on the anniversary of the death of Qassem Soleimani / YouTube / January 3, 2024



[3] 95 people were killed in southern Iran in two bombings targeting participants in commemoration of Soleimani/AFP/ Jan 03, 2024

 مقتل 95 شخصاً في جنوب إيران في تفجيرين استهدفا مشاركين بإحياء ذكرى سليماني (france24.com)


[4] Mikati: The bombing is a new Israeli crime aimed at implicating Lebanon/ sputnik/Jan 04,2023

ميقاتي: التفجير جريمة إسرائيلية جديدة تهدف إلى توريط لبنان - 02.01.2024, سبوتنيك عربي (sputnikarabic.ae)


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