48 hours to decide the fate of 2024

At the New Year, I repeated to many people that I wished us collectively a year that tended towards peace. I already have to admit that things are going badly. Very bad start.




On Tuesday, as much of the world was recovering from New Year festivities, a drone attack killed Saleh al-Arouri, the no 2 of Hamas.

It was predictable. Israel – which has not claimed responsibility for the assassination – has promised for two months to eliminate all the leaders of the Palestinian Islamist organization responsible for the October 7 terrorist attacks.

However, the location of the January 2 strike is not ordinary. We could even say that the choice was rash. Mr. Arouri was in Beirut, Lebanon, right in the Hezbollah stronghold, when he was killed alongside other Hamas commanders.

PHOTO MOHAMED AZAKIR, REUTERS

Firefighters were working Wednesday near the building – which can be seen damaged at the rear – where Saleh al-Arouri was when he was killed.

Political heavyweight in Lebanon, the armed Shiite movement already has a foot in the conflict which has pitted its Hamas allies against Israel since October 7. We now wonder if he won’t dive headlong into it. The result would be the expansion of the war which has already left tens of thousands dead in 90 days in Israel, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and on the southern border of Lebanon.

And that’s not all. A double explosion in Iran – which left at least 100 dead – has raised fears of an even greater conflagration in the region. The Iranian regime is already talking about the worst “terrorist attack” in 40 years. No one has claimed responsibility for the deadly event.

What we do know is that the target was a ceremony in memory of Qassem Soleimani, the powerful Iranian general who was killed by a US strike on January 3, 2020. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Iran promises “severe revenge”, but has refrained from naming a culprit, unlike some senior figures in the same regime who point the finger at Israel and its American ally.

Here is a second match which strikes near an already pierced barrel of oil.

Unfortunately, we don’t stop there. Two Israeli ministers from the far right have sparked controversy by publicly calling for mass emigration of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and the return of Israeli settlements to the enclave.

“More than 70% of the Israeli public today supports a humanitarian solution of encouraging the voluntary emigration of Arabs from Gaza and their absorption in other countries,” wrote Bezalel Smotrich, Israel’s finance minister. , on the social network

Like Itamar Ben-Gvir, Minister of National Security of Israel, who made similar remarks, he attracted the wrath of the Arab world, which saw it as a call for ethnic cleansing, but also the remonstrances of the spokesperson from the United States Department of State. Nothing to calm things down.

Are we close to the explosion? “We are not yet at a turning point, but at a critical point,” Marie-Joëlle Zahar, professor of political science at the University of Montreal and expert in conflict resolution, told me on Wednesday.

PHOTO MARTIN CHAMBERLAND, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Marie-Joëlle Zahar, professor of political science at the University of Montreal and expert in conflict resolution

The next 48 hours will be decisive. Either things will calm down or we are in for a regional war.

Marie-Joëlle Zahar, conflict resolution expert

And why 48 hours? Because this is the time that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah gave himself to think. This feared ally of Iran, which shelters part of the Hamas leadership, is at the crossroads of the events of the last days.

It was therefore on the edge of their chairs that Middle East observers awaited his speech on Wednesday.

PHOTO ANWAR AMRO, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

People watch Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s televised speech in a Beirut suburb.

The man who showed up to them Wednesday afternoon was surprisingly calm. After a litany of greetings, the strong man of the Shiite movement, which is on the Canadian government’s list of terrorist entities, condemned Israel’s “blatant attack”, promised a possible response to “avenge the martyrs”, but refrained from declaring war on the Jewish state.

Instead, he promised to reveal more about his intentions on Friday – “if I’m still alive” – during another speech that will be even more anticipated than Wednesday’s.

It’s called buying time, but it’s hardly reassuring. The fuse is lit.


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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