The world woke up to a different kind of news yesterday and it has been most trending on social media since then. The US strike in Iraq resulted in the death of Hezbollah leaders and reactions all over the world vary.
This news has left many wondering what comes next. These deaths have complicated political and security situations in the MENA region and their impacts are sure to affect Lebanon.
The ripple effects have already started being noticed a few hours after the news went viral. Many Lebanese politicians have condemned this strike. Many have not reacted to it.
Accordingly, the US Embassy in Beirut issued a level 3 Security Alert for its citizens in Lebanon to remain highly vigilant.
“Due to heightened tensions in Iraq and the region, the U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens in Lebanon to maintain a high level of vigilance and practice good situational awareness,” the embassy stated.
Security Alert for American citizens from U.S. Embassy Beirut:— U.S. Embassy Beirut (@usembassybeirut) January 3, 2020
The embassy urged its American citizens to stay alert in locations frequented by westerners, have a contingency plan for emergency situations, and monitor the embassy website for updates.
According to the US embassy website, Lebanon is now set as a Level 3, which means: “Reconsider travel to Lebanon due to crime, terrorism, armed conflict, and civil unrest. Some areas have increased risk.”
Washington, in turn, released a statement that the U.S. has placed an Army brigade on alert to fly into Lebanon as part of a number of military moves to protect U.S. interests in the Middle East, according to a Pentagon official. He added that the US can send 130 to 700 troops to Beirut.
Also according to Washington, this army is tasked to protect the US embassy in Beirut, in the aftermath of the assassination of Hezbollah leaders in Iraq.
On January 3, according to the Washington Post, the Pentagon announced that it would be sending nearly 3,500 additional troops to the Middle East from the 82nd Airborne Division.
The newspaper also states that there are hundreds of soldiers from the Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade in Italy on high alert for potential deployment. This step by the US Military is a precaution amid rising threats to American forces in the region.