Lebanon in 2021: War With Israel or Hezbollah Coup?

Israeli analysts say dramatic events expected in Lebanon in 2021 as it struggles to cope with ongoing political crisis.

Drama in Lebanon in 2021? (Photo: Unsplash)

Israeli analysts say that Lebanon could experience dramatic events in 2021 amid a severe political and economic crisis. In the coming year, all eyes will be on Hezbollah as it faces mounting domestic and external pressures that threaten its dominance.

Growing criticism at home and abroad is placing Hezbollah in a difficult position, say experts at the Institute for National Security Studies. In 2021, this will likely elevate the tension between Lebanon’s interests and the group’s commitment to its Shiite followers and Iranian masters.

INSS says that Hezbollah can choose between two options to transform Lebanon’s situation. The first is an armed takeover to preserve the group’s influential status. The second possibility is to intensify the military friction with Israel in Syria or Lebanon.

Both options will carry far-reaching implications for Lebanon’s domestic scene and for the country’s tense relationship with Israel.

For now, Hezbollah shows strategic patience by avoiding rash steps while working to preserve its power, INSS says. However, as pressures build up in Lebanon in 2021, group chief Hassan Nasrallah may opt for dramatic moves in an effort to change the dynamics.

INSS says that a positive change will see Lebanon advance gradual reforms to secure Western aid. However, a negative trajectory will escalate the political crisis to the point of chaos or the eruption of a civil war.

War in Tel Aviv and Beirut

Meanwhile, Arab affairs expert Shimrit Meir also highlighted the danger of an armed conflict between Israel and Lebanon.

In an analysis for Yediot Aharonot daily, Meir wrote that a Hezbollah attack on Israel could prompt the IDF to bomb the group’s precision-missile project. This scenario may be extreme but not impossible, she said.

Both sides wish to avoid a war but are prone to miscalculations, Meir wrote, noting that Hezbollah is ultimately an Iranian proxy and defers to Tehran.

A military clash would see Hezbollah bombarding Israel with missiles while the IDF pulverizes Beirut, Meir said. She warned that while Israel counts on a limited conflict that ends within days, Nasrallah may have other plans and escalate the fight.

Earlier, an Israeli expert also warned that Hezbollah rejects Israel’s thinking and will respond to attacks on vital assets by firing missiles at Tel Aviv.