Lebanon: the future hypothesized by Israel

(To Maria Grazia Labellarte)
03/09/20

In April, exercises were carried out on various simulated scenarios by the ICT (International Institute for Counter-Terrorism) and IDC (Interdisciplinary Center) of Herzliya, on the Future of Lebanon.

Later, both the explosion in the port of Beirut in July and the resignation of the Lebanese government, new variables and hypotheses were added. For the State of Israel new challenges to be followed by political and defense choices.

"Open Poker", this is the name of the three-month exercise that "allowed us to hypothesize developments on the future of Lebanon, but also on Israeli interests in the entire region", was the comment by Boaz Ganor, director of ICT in Herzliya. As we read on The Jerusalem Post who followed the same exercises closely. According to Ganor, "it is essential to give Israeli decision makers adequate time".

In the 3 scenarios hypothesized and analyzed, the most powerful local actors are Hezbollah, Israel and Iran and the RECURRING theme in all three is that Hezbollah is currently in one of the most delicate dilemmas to be overcome since taking de facto control of Lebanon about ten years ago.

Each of the scenarios, however, has tempted the US to take advantage of the situation to isolate and weaken Hezbollah and Iranian influence in Lebanon.

The roles assigned in the exercise were as follows: former deputy head of Mossad Naftali Granot impersonated the United States; former senior Mossad official Amnon Sofrin Syria; former UN ambassador Ron Prosor, Egyptian ambassador Itzhak Levanon and Ganor respectively Germany, the Lebanese Christian community and Israel. A number of other officials covered the remaining seven parties, including Hezbollah, Iran and Russia.

FIRST SCENARIO
Impersonated Lebanese President Michael Aoun announces an emergency government to deal with the double health-economic crisis presented by the coronavirus. This crisis is exemplified not only by the virus and loss of income, but also by a collapse in the sufficiency of medical equipment and other supplies needed to exit the crisis, as well as a wave of protests. As part of this emergency government, it forces Hezbollah out, forcing Iran's Shiite delegate to decide whether to attack using its "physical fire" power or execute a strategic retreat.

SECOND SCENARIO
Hezbollah completes the military takeover of the current government, a government over which it already has control de facto significant. The leader of the group, Hassan Nasrallah, tells the country that only he, with the help of Iran, can save the nation.

THIRD SCENARIO
No group or leader is able to lead the country through the crisis and Lebanese society falls into complete chaos, reminiscent of the 1976 civil war. "All three (scenarios, ed) could become reality ", Ganor said. "Israel must be ready for all three possibilities - and better prepare for each" (Jerusalem Post).

Photo: Mehr News Agency