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Lecture Series:  The Middle East in Crisis - 17 July 2018

Israel - Iran: collision in Lebanon

Implications for UNIFIL and European Militaries in the Levant


by Antonino Occhiuto



TOn 17 July 2018, the Euro-Gulf Information Centre (EGIC) hosted its second public lecture part of the Middle East in Crisis series. This series aims to provide knowledge and stimulate debate on the issues currently affecting the Middle East and analyse their root causes. 

This second lecture was delivered by Dr. Jean-Loup Samaan, Associate Professor in Strategic Studies at the National Defense College in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates). Dr. Samaan provided useful expertise and insights in order to better understand and contextualise the Israel-Hezbollah standoff on the border between Israel and Lebanon and the new elements of the Israel-Iran enmity related to the ongoing conflict inside Syria. Such new elements are particularly important as they have the potential to trigger a new regional conflict between Israel and Iran. 

Dr. Samaan begun by contextualising how Lebanon has been the theatre of the Israel-Iran confrontation at least since the 1980s. In particular, in the early 80s, Lebanon was characterised by an impoverished and marginalised Shia community, features exploited by Tehran to expand its influence across the Arab Levant. By deploying members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to Lebanon, Iran provided the support and training ensuring the creation of the Hezbollah group. The nascent Hezbollah substituted suicide bombing with more sophisticated tactics such as rocket launches and guerrilla tactics—developing as Iran’s most powerful proxy and the most dangerous foe for the Israel Defence Force (IDF). A clear example of the IDF’s struggle against the group can be drawn from the 2006 war with Israel in which the Lebanese militia was able to sustain a military confrontation with the IDF for 33 days—longer than any other regional state actor. 

What emerged from the war was the current status quo of mutual deterrence, where