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The state of utter confusion the Lebanese were in last Saturday was not a first. In fact, since the birth of the State of Israel in 1948, the entire region has become prone to security threats and proxy wars between the great powers that have a direct impact on Lebanon. However, waiting for the Iranian drones, and then the constant expectation of a possible Israeli reaction – despite the event being generally perceived as a staged act – does not change the fact that the region is not ready for a full-scale war. In that regard, one can imagine a poker table where everyone is raising and re-raising without knowing what the cards in hand are.

In truth, some of these cards are dealt by one power involved in the conflict; all players in the Middle East, from Lebanon to Syria, Iraq and Palestine, all the way to Yemen, are pawns in the hands of Iran, the biggest actor in the region.

It is clear that the Gulf states expected all the current changes, and most decision-makers in that region have opted for neutrality. Among the projected initiatives are normalization with Israel and preparation for the post-Gaza stage – which, unfortunately, signifies the elimination of the Palestinian cause, either through the two-state solution, or the complete termination of the conflict, even if some rockets will continue to be fired every once in a while by one faction or the other.

However, the main question is how the Palestinian cause will be eliminated. If Gaza is neutralized as per the current strategy of the Israeli army, the conflict will move to the West Bank. And if Egypt is to carry the burden of Gaza’s refugees, Jordan will have to host the displaced from the West Bank in exchange.

But what about Lebanon? Hezbollah knows full well that the biggest failure will be to have to withdraw behind the lines drawn by resolution 1701, to the north of the Litani river. In that case, it will have lost its capacity to remain along the green line with Israel, which could generate conflict with Hezbollah’s local opponents over the purpose of its weapons. Furthermore, one cannot ignore the fact that the losses sustained by Hezbollah have raised questions about its military strength and capacity to withstand further blows internally.

The second problem to take into account is the issue of Palestinian refugees on Lebanese soil. In this context, it is important to reflect on last year’s tensions in refugee camps when it comes to analyzing the possible aftermath of October 7. This subject has divided Palestinians and provided further proof of the necessity of solving the problem of weapons inside camps. Foreign states still believe that the settlement of Palestinians is the optimal solution, but Lebanon’s role in foreign policy is to prevent the implementation of such a decision and make it so that it is part of the multiple solutions thought about for the Palestinian cause in the region. That being said, what is Lebanon’s foreign policy in these circumstances? Officially, Lebanon is absent, its institutions are paralyzed; it awaits a solution to have a president and a functional system. In the present period of opacity regarding the region’s future and tensions preceding the American presidential elections – and given Joe Biden’s refusal to partake in a full-fledged regional conflict before said elections – the crisis will perdure until radical change is brought about. Trump’s possible return would mean the revival of the “Deal of the Century,” an implementable initiative in this context of military change following the war on Gaza. Will the end of this year mark the birth of a new region, where most countries surrounding Israel are fragmented into small sectarian states – governed by specific religious groups, diverse in name only, and divided to preserve Israel as a Jewish state?