“All parties in the region have their hands on the trigger”, had warned, on October 28, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs, threatening to bring to war against Israel, in support of Hamas, the forces of the “axis of resistance”, the regional network of groups armed forces allied to Iran. Since the truce between the Jewish state and Hamas expired, on 1er December, all fronts were reactivated: from Lebanon to Syria, in Iraq and in the Red Sea. If Tehran takes care to avoid open confrontation with its Israeli enemy, the quiet war it is waging against it is increasingly deadly.
Since the early 2000s, Iran has built a “forward defense” strategy with the aim of deterring Israel and the United States from any attack, subcontracting the defense of its interests to non-state regional allies. From Lebanon to Yemen, via Syria and Iraq, they allow it to harass its adversaries while maintaining a posture of “plausible deniability”: not directly taking on a military act against its enemies. This strategy presents a risk: that one of its allies engages in uncontrolled escalation. This risk has been exacerbated since the war between Israel and Hamas.
Houthi rebels in Yemen, supported by Tehran, once again targeted commercial ships in the Red Sea on December 3 and 4, claiming to have carried out a ” operation “ against “Israeli ships in the Bab Al-Mandab Strait” – a strategic waterway linking the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden – in retaliation for the war waged by the Israeli army against the Gaza Strip. A US Navy destroyer, which came to assist them, shot down several drones. These attacks represent a “direct threat to international trade and maritime security, warned Washington. The United States will consider all appropriate responses in close coordination with its international allies and partners.”
Just a few hours after the end of the truce in the Gaza Strip, the border between Israel and Lebanon also burst into flames again. Hezbollah and Israel have resumed their clashes with the same level of intensity prevailing since October 8, the beginning of the exchanges of fire they are engaged in along the demarcation line between the two countries, after Hezbollah decided to intervene in support of Hamas.
EU front line expanded
The rules of engagement remain unchanged, a sign that the two adversaries are not seeking to provoke open conflict. This bellicose routine has nevertheless already caused more than one hundred and ten deaths in Lebanon, including eleven civilians and three journalists. At least six Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed in Israel, according to authorities. With more than eighty fighters fallen in combat, Hezbollah is already recording high losses, including within its elite unit, the Radwan force. On Tuesday, the Lebanese army, which is staying away from the fighting between the two belligerents, in turn recorded its first losses. One soldier was killed and three others injured by an Israeli shell.
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