Lebanon: monthly report November 2023

Jordan stays at the forefront of regional efforts to stop the war in Gaza. In addition to providing continuous humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, the Hashemite Kingdom has been keeping a high-profile position, favoring consultations with regional partners, with the goal of creating a united Arab-Islamic front, as well as with key international interlocutors.

On November 4, Amman hosted a coordination meeting to discuss the catastrophic situation in Gaza chaired by the Jordanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ayman Al-Safadi. The event was joined by the Secretary General of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Foreign Ministers of the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, and it was followed by a round of consultations between the Arab leaders and the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken. On that occasion, divergences in approaching the unfolding conflict came up – with the Arab group calling for an “immediate ceasefire” on one side and Washington suggesting “localized and temporary humanitarian pauses” on the other. In this regard, on the stage of the latest edition of the Manama Dialogue (Bahrein, Nov. 17-19), Al Safadi also emphasized the fact that humanitarian pauses cannot be linked to the release of Hamas’ hostages alone.

As a member of the ministerial committee in charge of the Arab-Islamic Extraordinary Summit held in Riyadh on November 11 and during the recent tour touching Beijing, Moscow, London, Paris and Barcelona, Jordan’s Foreign Minister reiterated the urgency to stop Israeli military operations in Gaza and ensure the entrance of humanitarian aid in the Strip. The goal is to guarantee the Palestinians' right to self-determination and launch an effective peace process based on the two-state solutions, namely the creation of a Palestine state according to the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. In Barcelona, where he co-chared with the European Union's top diplomat, Josep Borrell, the 8th Regional Forum of the Union for the Mediterranean (Nov. 26-27), Al Safadi called for real collective action, stressing the crucial role of the United States and the European Union in putting an end to the conflict. With the aim of gaining consensus among his international partners, Jordan’s King, Abdullah II, visited Brussels in early November for bilateral meetings with the highest EU officials as well as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Abdullah II’s visit to the EU capital was also an important opportunity to warn European interlocutors of the risk of a new wave of violence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem due to the increase in Israeli settlers’ violence.

Preventing a conflagration of the conflict still ranks as the main priority on Lebanon’s political agenda. During his official visit to Turkiye to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati stressed the precariousness of the border with Israel, reiterating the country’s interest in not being dragged into the conflict. On the prospects for Hezbollah’s full-scale military involvement, the Party of God has been deliberately maintaining a strategic ambiguity, declaring on several occasions that “all the options are on the table”. Therefore, because of the escalating tensions recorded this month along the border, the Lebanese government granted a fund of 11 million dollars to the Ministry of Health in order to “cover the costs of care for the wounded in case of war”. The latest developments in Gaza were also at the core of bilateral consultations that Mikati held in Amman with Abdullah II and Antony Blinken on November 9. In Beirut, the Lebanese Prime Minister also held talks with US Special Envoy for Global Infrastructures and Energy Security Amos Hochstein – who traveled to the Lebanese capital for further consultations with the Commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces, Joseph Aoun, and other high-level government figures, including the caretaker Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

In his two public addresses since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war, Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah resorted to his anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist rhetoric and, in keeping with what was previously declared by the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, he asserted that Al-Aqsa Flood Operation was entirely Palestinian. Therefore, it seems that the Party of God – like its main sponsor Iran – is still not interested in fueling a regionalization of the war. It is not by chance that, in both speeches, Nasrallah stressed Hezbollah’s role as a “supporting front” for Hamas, also acknowledging the military engagement of Yemen’s Houthis and the Islamic Resistance in Iraq. It is noteworthy that the Islamic Resistance in Iraq targeted US military bases across Iraq and Syria for the entire month. On Syrian soils, retaliatory US strikes against Iranian facilities, mainly in the Bukamal and Mayadin areas, were also recorded.

Though neither Hezbollah nor the Israel Defence Forces seem keen to engage in a fully-fledged war, unprecedented cross-border fighting on both sides have led to a sharp escalation of violence. Indeed, in November, clashes intensified in the north of Israel and along Lebanon's southern border, causing the death of Lebanese civilians. Hassan Nasrallah celebrated quantitative and qualitative improvements made in Hezbollah’s military operations, with a focus on the type of more sophisticated weapons used by the group.

Download the November 2023 report

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