Iran seeks to deter Israel from Lebanon operation

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Iran’s acting Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani said on July 3 that any Israeli action that leads to “all-out war” in Lebanon would become an “eternal hell” for Israel. This is the latest attempt by the Iranian regime to try to protect its Hezbollah ally in Lebanon. Hezbollah is both a partner and proxy of Iran. It is also the largest and most well funded and well equipped of Iran’s numerous proxies that Iran has used to attack Israel since October 7.

For Iran, preserving Hezbollah is a key priority. Therefore the country is ramping up its rhetoric about the possibility of a larger war in the region if the situation in Lebanon deteriorates. Israeli officials have been saying for months that the Hezbollah attacks on northern Israel, now more than 5,500 since Hezbollah began its attacks in October 2023, must stop. However, Israeli officials have not said how the Hezbollah attacks will stop, there have been discussions about a diplomatic solution and if that fails, then a military solution.

It is now June and the north is as hot as ever. On the morning of July 4 Hezbollah continued to launch numerous drone attacks on Israel. This comes a day after the IDF killed a senior Hezbollah commander in Tyre. Iran is watching closely. On July 3 Ali Bagheri Kani warned about a war in Lebanon. IRNA state media in Iran reported that “Iran’s interim foreign minister has warned that an all-out war on Lebanon will definitely turn into an eternal hell for the Zionist regime.” 

Kani described the current war as an “equation.” This means that Hezbollah believes it has carved out a new front inside Israel where it has a certain amount of impunity to attack. Hezbollah has tied its attacks to the Gaza war. So long as the Gaza war continues, Hezbollah attacks will continue. “Ali Bagheri Kani, speaking to reporters on Wednesday, said that the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah, which is an active actor in Lebanon militarily and diplomatically, plays a key role in the war equation that has created a deterrent power in the region,” the IRNA report said. 

When Iran speaks of “deterrent power” it means that it can ramp up attacks on Israel by Hezbollah or other Iranian proxies on seven different fronts against Israel, from Gaza to Yemen, Lebanon, the West Bank, Iraq, Syria, and also Iran itself. Iran carried out an attack with 300 drones and missiles on April 13-14 earlier this year.

Members of Hezbollah attend the funeral of Taleb Abdallah, also known as Abu Taleb, a senior field commander of Hezbollah who was killed by what security forces say was an Israel strike yesterday night, in Beirut’s southern suburbs, Lebanon June 12, 2024. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMED AZAKIR)

Iran’s foreign minister also discussed the chance of Saudi Arabia’s king visiting Iran. He “said that the trip is on the agenda of Iran and Saudi Arabia. He said the Tehran-Riyadh ties will be pursued once the next Iranian administration comes to power,” the report noted. This is important because Iran wants to work with countries like Saudi Arabia and also to isolate Israel through Iran’s increasing ties in the region. Iran has been working to increase ties with Egypt, for instance.

Iranian FM’s pick for US elections

The Iranian diplomat was also asked about the chances that former US President Donald Trump will become president. “The change of presidents cannot affect the Iranian strategic policies, even though Tehran scrutinizes potential changes in the international arena, including the United States, and that the next administration in Iran will definitely take serious measures in this respect,” The Iranian diplomat noted. 

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