Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Lebanese political spheres have been exchanging information from the West, expecting sudden developments in Lebanon, perhaps exceeding the current internal conflict resulting from the dispute surrounding the international tribunal investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri and its expected decision. This information, derived from European and international reports, talks about the possibility of Israeli military aggression against Lebanon, after Tel Aviv completed its military and logistical preparations for such an operation, something that would change the situation in the region, and the regional priorities. This is what the Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, warned of in his speech last Thursday, when he referred to an expected Israeli war to begin in conjunction with the international tribunal issuing its expected decision. Information indicates that US and French officials visiting Beirut discussed the prospect of war with Lebanese leaders, warning of what could happen in the coming days and weeks.
Hezbollah MP Kamel al-Rifai told Asharq al-Awsat that “the Israeli threats to Lebanon are serious, and Lebanese officials have been notified of this by US Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democratic Senator John Kerry, during their visit to Lebanon”.
Al-Rifai added that “the information indicates that the U.S. administration gave Israel the green light to do whatever it wants in Lebanon. This message was conveyed to the Syrian leadership by Kerry, and this means that the Americans have a certain agenda that they are implementing against the resistance in Lebanon and Palestine, using Israel [to achieve this] since they are unable to intervene militarily. The objective of this is to impose a new reality on the region following the failure of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations”.
The Hezbollah MP also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the resistance will not give Israel any excuse for aggression, although they (Israel) do not need justifications for their wars. Yet the [resistance] is always ready to confront any aggression, at any time”. Al-Rifai added “Hezbollah’s main concern is internal unity in confronting Israeli threats, contrary to Feltman and Kouchner’s efforts with the March 14 Alliance to incite further escalation and non-engagement in dialogue with the opposition, waiting to see what Israel will bring them in Lebanon”.
Meanwhile strategic expert, Retired Brigadier General Elias Hanna, told Asharq al-Awsat that “the military’s carried out by Israel for a possible war against Lebanon and Hezbollah are the result of lessons learned from the  July War and the Winograd report”. According to Hanna, “Israel’s preparation, its threats and posturing, and the operation it carried out in Deir al-Zour (in Syria), are intended to convey the message that it has regained a military deterrent force.”
Brigadier General Elias Hanna added: “It is true that Israel is ready for war, but this war requires certain political conditions, and a green light from America. This American authorization is not currently available, as the priorities of the U.S. administration are totally different due to its preoccupation with Iraq and Afghanistan, and the economic situation. Therefore, Israel will not go to war alone, and will not accept a war where the results will be similar to the 2006 invasion, because that was to akin to [becoming trapped in] a spider’s web.”
As for the different scenarios being put forward by political and military leaders in Israel, Hanna told Asharq Al-Awsat that: “they are not scenarios; they are merely campaigns, preparations, psychological warfare, and attempts to weaken the ability of the opposition. For example, when Hezbollah threatens that it has more than 40 thousand rockets, capable of targeting all Israeli cities and positions, this corresponds with Israel’s talk of preparing a missile shield, and completing the construction of shelters so that Israeli civilians are not at risk in any future war. This means that (Israel) is trying to discover the strengths of Hezbollah.” He also added “preparations are in place [for a war], but the conditions for battle are not currently in place.”
In response to a question about the possibility of Hezbollah opting for open confrontation with Israel in order to avoid the internet confrontation that is likely to take place when the international tribunal indicts members of Hezbollah for involvement in Hariri’s assassination, Brigadier General Elias Hanna said “Hezbollah will certain not be able to go to war with Israel in response to the expected decision [by the international tribunal], unless there was a regional Syrian-Iranian decision [permitting this] and this would not improve [Hezbollah’s] political situation whatsoever unless Iran was attacked.”