Hussein Malla Associated Press On Sunday, clashes intensified in northern Israel, along the border with Lebanon, between the Jewish state and Hezbollah. In the photo, smoke can be seen rising from bombings in Dahaira, a village in southern Lebanon, on Monday.
Pressure, reaction. Fears that the new war between Hamas and Israel could degenerate into a broader regional conflict intensified earlier this week, on the eve of a possible entry of Israeli ground forces into the Gaza Strip. A conflagration that the diplomatic networks of several countries, including the United States, are now seeking to repel, nine days after the Hamas terrorist attack which put the entire region back on a tipping point.
What are the warning signs of an escalation?
On Sunday, clashes intensified in the north of Israel, along the border with Lebanon, between the Hebrew state and Hezbollah, this militia supported by Iran which controls southern Lebanese territory. The missile attacks on Israel by this other terrorist organization triggered a response with artillery fire and airstrikes.
On the sidelines of these tensions on this second front, Iran added fuel to the fire through the voice of its Minister of Foreign Affairs: visiting Qatar, a country allied with Tehran and financial support of Hamas, Hossein Amir -Abdollahian said a “widening of the conflict” was possible. “If the Zionist regime's attacks on the defenseless population of Gaza continue, no one can guarantee control of the situation,” he added.
The man has led meetings in recent days in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria, countries allied and supporting Hezbollah. He also met Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh in Doha and agreed with him to create “a broader front against Israel,” according to IRNA, the official Iranian news agency.
According to a close to the Iranian government, a meeting was held on Sunday evening in a Hezbollah command center in Beirut, the Lebanese capital, between the group and Iran, to assess the exploitation of Israel's security weakness that the attacks of October 7 revealed. Nearly 1,400 Israelis lost their lives in these massacres.
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Intensifying fighting in northern Israel could quickly overwhelm Israeli positions there, with most of Tel Aviv's troops now concentrated further south, along the Gaza Strip.
On Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned that the price of this war was going to be “very high,” but that his country was going to “win it for Israel, for the Jewish people and for the values that Israelis believe in.” and Americans, he said alongside Antony Blinken. In a sign of international anxiety over an escalation in this conflict, the United States Secretary of State visited the Jewish state for the second time in five days.
For the former American Ambassador to Israel, Martin S. Indyk, the “potential for [this conflict] to spread not only in Lebanon, but beyond Lebanon is now very high,” he said, quoted by the New York Times. “That's why the [Biden] administration is working hard to prevent it, something they normally wouldn't have had to do if there hadn't been such a major blow. against Israel's defense system. »
How is diplomacy working to reduce pressure in the region?
Faced with the seriousness of the situation, Joe Biden put his domestic agenda on hold on Monday, canceling a planned trip to Colorado, to stay in Washington and focus on the risk of regional escalation of the conflict, announced the House -White. The American president is due to visit Israel on Wednesday, the head of American diplomacy confirmed on Monday. The visit should serve to demonstrate US support for the Jewish state and prevent the crisis from getting worse.
Sunday, on CBS, the president's security adviser, Jake Sullivan, admitted that private messages had been sent to the Tehran regime in recent days, through intermediaries, to dissuade the Iranian theocracy from encourage a conflagration in the region. These parallel networks – the United States does not have diplomatic relations with Iran – generally pass through Qatar, the Sultanate of Oman and China.
“We cannot rule out that Iran may choose to engage directly in one way or another,” continued Jake Sullivan. “We must prepare for all eventualities. »
Prevention before cure: without fanfare, Washington also blocked last week access to the $6 billion account granted to Tehran a few weeks ago for humanitarian aid as part of a controversial negotiation between the two countries. The measure aims to prevent this sum from being used to strengthen Hamas or Hezbollah in their existential and fanatical war against Israel. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen also announced that the United States may consider additional sanctions against Iran.
With two aircraft carriers sent to the region, Washington fears that a deterioration in security could force the United States to enter directly into this conflict, by air and sea, to defend its closest Middle Eastern ally, Israel. On the threshold of an election year, Joe Biden could pay the price for his country's return to the “forever wars” from which Washington has sought to move away for several years.
On Monday, the Russian president , Vladimir Putin, entered into the diplomatic ballet induced by the threat of an Israeli ground intervention in Gaza. The Kremlin says it has spoken with the leaders of Iran, Ebrahim Raïssi, and Syria, Bashar al-Assad, but also with the president of Egypt, Al-Sissi, that of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, in order to express Russia's “position” on the crisis and to listen to the “considerations” of these regional actors.
Putin's diplomatic advisor, Yuri Ushakov, quoted by the agencies of Russian press, said that “in the context, the main thing [for Moscow] was to immediately cease fire and begin a process of political settlement.” He also called for “active and strong measures” to prevent escalation.
With Agence France-Presse