Rising assassinations: Impact on regional stability


A new phase of the conflict in Gaza is unfolding, marked by the shift towards systematic assassination operations spanning across a broader regional landscape, encompassing Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The recent targeted killings of a prominent leader from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp as well as a key figure in Hamas signify an escalation, setting the stage for increased instability.

The assassination of the prominent leader of Hamas, Saleh Al Arouri in Beirut in the southern area under Hizbollah’s control, sends a clear message challenging Hizbollah’s security and even their existence. This event, occurring in one of Hizbullah’s most secure areas, underscores the gravity of the situation. The targeted member of Hamas holds a pivotal role within the organisation, closely aligned with Iran and Hizbollah’s ideology.

While the conflict in Gaza persists, Israel is strategically reallocating its operations. The focus is shifting to the southern Gaza region, with the north being prepared as a buffer zone for Israel’s security. This tactical move aims to both deescalate international pressure, especially from the United States, and intensify the humanitarian crisis which will change the priorities and push everybody to urgently seek quick solutions for the human crisis. With the increasing number in displaced individuals heading towards Rafah, the situation demands urgent international humanitarian intervention. 

Concurrently, Israel is extending its influence in the West Bank and Lebanon, contributing to heightened destabilisation in these regions. Efforts towards a post-war solution in Gaza are surfacing, with Israel advocating for a security-centric approach. However, the prospect of a comprehensive political resolution seems distant, as the focus remains on addressing humanitarian concerns. 

Proposals, such as those from Cyprus suggesting a maritime or sea-based rescue path, face scepticism. Despite fears that this might displace the people of Gaza without resolving the core issue, these ideas could gain acceptance due to the worsening humanitarian crisis. Implementing such proposals would place additional pressure on Egypt and involve increased Israeli participation in shaping the new solution. 

Simultaneously, the ongoing assassination operations signal a delicate situation in the region, raising concerns about the potential for proxy confrontations, the opening of new fronts, and an increased targeting of key figures. While there have been no claims of responsibility for any of these operations, Israel underscores the prolonged nature of the conflict, drawing parallels to historical operations. The Mossad director’s recent comparison to operations post-Munich massacre in 1972 highlights Israel’s determination to secure itself and reshape the security map of the region, preventing future attacks or any repetition of events like October 7th. 

The absence of a clear solution, coupled with insufficient international intervention and the enforcement of UN resolutions, leaves the region vulnerable to further proxy confrontations and targeted actions. The geographic scope of these operations may extend beyond current territories, presenting a global risk. 

In summary, the changing dynamics of the conflict in Gaza and the broader region highlights a complex interplay of geopolitical factors. The ongoing shift in strategic operations, combined with a focus on security-centric approaches, highlights the difficulties in attaining a comprehensive and enduring resolution.

This evolving situation also creates opportunities for various actors, including terrorist groups and militias, to enter the fray. The humanitarian crisis is escalating, necessitating prompt international attention, and coordinated efforts to address the underlying causes of the conflict. As events continue to unfold, the region is on heightened alert, dealing with the uncertainties of a prolonged conflict and its potential global repercussions, particularly as remote assassinations and proxy wars could spread across the region.

Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh