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The Noise of Assassinations and Nasrallah's Messages

2024-03-12 12:19

Issam Khoury

Lebanon , #Geopolitics , #Hezbollah , #Security , #Tensions , #Peace , #Strategy , #RegionalConflict , #GlobalImpact,

The Noise of Assassinations and Nasrallah's Messages

"Analysis: Hezbollah's moves hint at deeper regional strategies, shaping a future fraught with uncertainty and potential conflict."

As an observer of military developments in the Middle East, one is daily surprised by news of assassinations of fighters or prominent leaders in the so-called Axis of Resistance and Defiance countries, including Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Iran, Palestine, and Yemen.


Since the events of October 7, 2023, until mid-February 2024, approximately 252 people have been killed in Lebanon, most of them fighters of Hezbollah and a small number of them were Palestinians. The killing of the so-called al-Ridwan Force commander, Ali Mohammed Dibs [1], by the Israelis on February 15, 2024, is part of a series of assassinations that Israel plans to carry out in Lebanon, possibly targeting the al-Ridwan Force leader, Haitham Tabatabai [2], in response to Hezbollah's targeting of its territories especially after Hezbollah killed an Israeli soldier [3] and wounded eight others in the Safed area on February 14, 2024.


The escalation of military behavior by Hezbollah on the northern Israeli border in February 2024 came after Israel targeted several secret leaders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in the Assad villages in the Damascus region on February 10, 2024, and another targeting on February 7, 2024, of sites where Hezbollah stores its weapons in Homs.


The continued Israeli airstrikes on Homs, which serves as a transit point for Iranian weapons coming from Iraq to Lebanon, and the Dimas area, which is a stronghold for storing weapons for the Fourth Division led by Maher al-Assad (from this area, weapons are transferred to the Lebanese Beqaa regions controlled by Hezbollah), pose a strategic threat to Hezbollah's logistical supplies, especially as the Americans have become serious in targeting Iraqi Shia militias after three American soldiers were killed in Tower 22 in Jordan.


Hassan Nasrallah felt isolated and that his Israeli opponent was capable of striking him, especially since Hamas's rocket capabilities had become limited or nearly depleted. Even Hezbollah's Syrian partner is threatened, as the Israeli media resorted to spreading rumors to create confusion within the ranks of the Syrian army and security apparatus. Israeli journalist Edy Cohen published news of the killing of Maher al-Assad [4] in an airstrike on the Dimas area on February 16, 2024, and another rumor of the killing of Brigadier Bassam Marhij Al-Hasan [5] on February 15, 2024. It is noteworthy that Cohen mistakenly used a photo of Colonel Muin Shahada instead of Brigadier Bassam Marhij Al-Hasan, indicating the weakness of his investigative information, which seems to have been based on Fox News [6], which mistakenly identified Shahada as Bassam al-Hasan on April 7, 2017, without verifying with a professional Syrian source.



In light of all these events, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah delivered a warning speech on February 16, 2024, stating that "the resistance in Lebanon possesses a huge and accurate missile capability extending from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat." During his speech, Hezbollah elements carried out a series of attacks on sites in the Shebaa Farms, which Lebanon is negotiating with Israel to reclaim.


Hezbollah's behavior carries three main messages:

  • The first, concerning the Lebanese issue: is to instill fear in the settlers in northern Israel in order to pressure Netanyahu's government to achieve a negotiation that ensures the return of occupied lands to Lebanon, thus portraying Nasrallah as a national hero in Lebanon.
  • The second, for the international community: by demonstrating that Hezbollah has a missile arsenal more important than Hamas, and that all Israeli attacks on the party's weapon depots and the Revolutionary Guard in Syria are a small part of the stored missiles ready to target Israel if Tel Aviv decides to threaten Beirut. This fact is understood by both Israeli and American intelligence, leading the United States to attempt to calm the northern front during the battles in Gaza.
  • The third, directed at the Islamic world: its main goal is to inform the Sunni-majority Arab world that those defending Arab causes are the Shia supported by Iran. Therefore, it is in the interest of Muslim people not to oppose Iranian orientations, even if opposed by their governments.



The three messages from Hezbollah represent a long-term strategy of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in the Middle East. This poses a serious threat to the region's future and peace projects. If Hezbollah succeeds in reclaiming the Shebaa Farms, it will extend its control over Lebanon for decades, potentially leading to an expansion of international sanctions to encompass all aspects of life in Lebanon.



Furthermore, the appeasement of a small party like Hezbollah in a failed state such as Lebanon, due to its possession of a large number of missiles, sets a precedent that cannot be overlooked on a national security level. It could pave the way for the growth of several terrorist groups in other failed states, ultimately undermining international legitimacy and nullifying the role of the Security Council.



Hence, the international community may find itself compelled to support Israel in bearing the cost of another war on its northern front. Undoubtedly, this war would be harsher than the Gaza conflict but deemed necessary for the restoration of stability and international order in the Middle East.





[1] @AvichayAdraee, Feb 16, 2024


[2] Tabataba’i is a key Hizballah military leader who has commanded the group’s special forces in both Syria and Yemen. Tabataba’i’s actions in Syria and Yemen are part of a larger Hizballah effort to provide training, materiel, and personnel in support of its destabilizing regional activities.


[3] إسرائيل تؤكد مقتل مجندة وإصابة آخرين بقصف من لبنان (aa.com.tr)


[4] @EdyCohen, Feb 16, 2024


[5] @EdyCohen, Feb 15, 2024



[6] Revealed: First photos of Assad aide heading Syria's chemical weapons unit, Fox news, April 7, 2017


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