News from the first days of the new year

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By SALEM NASSER*

The main facts in the Middle East at the beginning of 2024 and their developments

I am considering producing a series of daily pills – brief notes, written and videotaped – to be called “Yesterday’s News”. Each day I would choose a single piece of news or relevant fact to record and briefly comment on. Let's see if I can maintain discipline.

We are already on the fourth day of the new year and, therefore, I already owe three pieces of news – which is understandable, considering the holidays and rest. Let's make up for lost time.

1.

For January 1st, I'm choosing a piece of news from last year – just this once, I'll allow myself a little cheating. This is the presentation, by South Africa, of a claim against Israel, before the International Court of Justice, for violations of the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

To be clear, especially for lay people – that is, all those who have not studied international law – this is not the International Criminal Court which, at this moment, should be advancing the investigation of international crimes, including genocide, being committed by individuals (Israelis and others, but mainly Israelis) in Palestine.

The International Court of Justice hears cases between States. Certainly, a crucial issue to be decided by the Court will be that related to its competence to judge the case. To be accompanied.

2.

For January 2nd, it is difficult to get around the assassination of Saleh El Aruri, Deputy Secretary General of Hamas, and other members of the movement, by Israel, in Dahie (the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, where Hezbollah has its headquarters). nerve center).

The murder allows for different interpretations, regarding its motivations, and several speculations, regarding the possible consequences. I will limit myself to a couple of observations.

Regarding motivations, we range from the idea that Israel would want to see this as a victory that would now allow it to find a way out of a costly war that is being lost to the consideration that Israel wants to expand the conflict to force the entry of the United States on the battlefield.

As for the consequences, they depend on what Hezbollah will consider to be the appropriate response to the fact that Israel has violated two red lines: the assassination of a resistance leader in Lebanon and the fact that the attack was carried out in Dahie.

3.

For January 3rd, two facts must be highlighted – yet another exception to the rule…: the attack with two bombs that hit visitors to Kassem Soleimani's tomb on the eve of the fourth anniversary of his death by the United States, and the speech given by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nassrallah.

About the first event, there is not much that can be said, other than that it claimed more than a hundred fatalities, including children; that the timing it was cruel and also revealing (if combined with Arury's murder the day before and with the possible intention of expanding the scope of the war by bringing Iran in and, consequently, also forcing the entry of the United States).

It is against this backdrop that Hassan Nassrallah's speech took place, a speech that was already scheduled and, like all his appearances, was highly anticipated.

Something must be said, for Western audiences, about the place and political weight of Hassan Nassrallah in the Middle East and beyond. Most people among us, probably in Brazil, I would say certainly, have never heard of him. Certainly, almost no one has ever heard or read a speech or interview of his in its entirety.

However, I think there is no exaggeration in saying that Hassan Nassrallah is simply the most important voice when it comes to understanding the dynamics of the Middle East, its balances of power, its changes in recent decades. And it is no exaggeration to say that he is also one of the most important actors – in some respects the most important of actors – in the region since 1992.

To summarize, this centrality stems from his enormous intelligence, his unique command of a rationality that many orientalists would think was absent in Arab minds and an exclusive characteristic of the West, a charisma without close parallels, his credibility, considered even by Israelis to be flawless. , and for the place to which Hezbollah has risen as a political and military force in the region.

In yesterday's speech, Hassan Nassrallah spoke of the inevitability of an appropriate response to the assassination of Al Arury, although he gave no clues as to when this would happen, and he spoke of Hezbollah's willingness to enter into an open war, without any limits, if Israel wants to impose such a war on you.

* Salem Nasser He is a professor at the Faculty of Law at FGV-SP. Author of, among other books,  Global law: norms and their relationships (Alamedina).[https://amzn.to/3s3s64E]


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