World View: Israel and Saudi Arabia Prepare for War with Hezbollah, as Syria War Winds Down


This morning’s key headlines from

  • Israel and Hezbollah prepare for war with each other
  • Saudi Arabian minister calls for ‘toppling Hezbollah’

Israel and Hezbollah prepare for war with each other

Hezbollah supporters chant slogans and gesture on al-Quds day in southern Lebanon on June 23 (Reuters)
Hezbollah supporters chant slogans and gesture on al-Quds day in southern Lebanon on June 23 (Reuters)

With the rise of hopes, delusional or not, that the war in Syria will settle down within a few months, all the players are now looking ahead to the wars to follow.

Hezbollah, Iran’s puppet Shia militia organization in Lebanon, was originally formed in 1985 to launch war with Israel, and still has no other objective other than war with Israel. War with Israel is its only reason for existing.

Israel and Hezbollah last had a war in 2006. That war was a disaster for both sides, and also a disaster for Lebanon, much of whose infrastructure was destroyed. Since then, Hezbollah has made it known that it is preparing for a much more effective war with Israel, although this plan has been delayed by the war in Syria.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah spoke on nationwide television in Lebanon October 1, to mark Ashura, the holiest day in the Shia Muslim calendar, and used the occasion to once again threaten to destroy Israel, and to warn that Israel would be devastated by war:

I call on anyone who came to occupied Palestine to leave it and return to the lands you came from, so you will not be the fuel for any war waged by your foolish government.

[Israel’s prime minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and his government do not know how the war will end if they start one, and they do not have an accurate picture of what to expect should they embark on the folly of war.

Israeli defense officials believe that Hezbollah has an arsenal of between 100,000 and 150,000 missiles and a fighting force of 50,000 soldiers, 10,000 of which are already positioned in southern Syria, ready for war with Israel.

An extensive report released last month by the High Level Military Group, a think tank made up of retired generals and defense officials from the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Colombia, India, and Australia, agrees with the Israeli military assessment of Hezbollah, and also agrees with Nasrallah of the effect of war on Israelis:

Policymakers expressed concerns about how prepared the Israeli public is for the level of devastation that would be wrought in a major military clash with Hezbollah.

Younger Israelis are less familiar with the threat of direct attack than older generations, and Israel’s success in neutralizing less sophisticated rockets fired from Gaza may have led to inflated expectations of its capacity to intercept the volume of rockets likely to be fired by Hezbollah.

In a war, Hezbollah would be launching about 1,000 missiles per day at Israeli targets, although without guidance systems the missiles could only be launched in the direction of the desired target.

But in the last few months, reports have emerged that Iran is constructing manufacturing facilities in Lebanon for volume manufacturing of precision-guided missiles. These missiles could be launched from anywhere in Lebanon and could be programmed to strike any target in Israel with accuracy. In the past, Iran tried to transport convoys of these missiles overland from Iran to Lebanon, but Israel has been very successful with airstrikes in Syria or Iraq to destroy the convoys before they could reach Lebanon.

The manufacture of these precision-guided missiles within Lebanon is thought be “crossing a red line” for Israel. Israel would probably launch a preemptive strike on the production facilities in Lebanon, which would be a significant escalation on the relation between Lebanon and Israel since the end of the 2006 war. Hezbollah could then launch a retaliatory strike on Israel, risking tit-for-tat escalation that would lead to full-scale war.

Some analysts are advising Israel to strike right away before Hezbollah has a chance to fully arm. That option is certainly being debated, but whether it will be adopted remains to be seen. Times of Israel (26-Oct) and National Interest and Times of Israel (1-Oct) and High Level Military Group (PDF) and Israel Hayom (1-Sep)

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Saudi Arabian minister calls for ‘toppling Hezbollah’

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Gulf Affairs, Thamer Al-Sabhan, said on Monday that Hezbollah should be toppled:

[Saudi Arabia] is determined to stand resolute against Hezbollah, the satanic militia working to recruit and train outlaws in the party’s strongholds in Lebanon.

Hezbollah is declaring war on Saudi Arabia with the Iranian weapons. …

Those who believe that my tweets are a personal stance are delusional and they will see what will happen in the coming days

I addressed my tweet to the government because the Party of Satan [Hezbollah] is represented in it and it is a terrorist party. The issue is not about toppling the government but rather that Hezbollah should be toppled.

The coming developments will definitely be astonishing.

Saudi Arabia has accused Hezbollah of supplying rockets and other weapons to the Houthis, Saudi Arabia’s enemy in the war in Yemen.

However, one pro-Hezbollah report mocked al-Sabhan by saying, “Al-Sabhan obsessively tweets about Hezbollah and continues to make promises about destroying the Lebanese group.” Arab News and Naharnet (Lebanon) and Al Masdar News (Damascus)

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Israel, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Hezbollah, Iran, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, High Level Military Group, Thamer Al-Sabhan, Yemen
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