Photo Credit: YouTube screenshot
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah gives Gaza speech, November 3, 2024.

What was the purpose of a senior Hezbollah delegation’s recent visit to the United Arab Emirates?

The arrival of Wafiq Safa in the UAE on March 19 marked the first official visit to the UAE by a Hezbollah figure. The Gulf Cooperation Council, of which the UAE is a member state, designated Hezbollah as a terror organization in 2016.


The delegation was led by Wafiq Safa, who heads Hezbollah’s liaison and coordination unit. He is widely regarded as Hezbollah’s chief negotiator on issues of prisoner exchanges and hostages. The contingent also included a brother-in-law of Hezbollah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah who serves as a special envoy for delicate missions.

Did Safa seek to negotiate for the release of Hezbollah operatives, who were caught in the Emirates working for the Iranians? Reports suggest he is trying to secure the release of several Lebanese nationals imprisoned in the Emirates for money laundering and other activities for the Iran-backed terror group.

Arab reports claim that the Emirates will release five Hezbollah operatives out of seven detained in its territory as part of a Ramadan amnesty. Some Arab countries customarily grant amnesty to prisoners on holidays such as Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan. That holiday falls on April 9.

But other Arab reports suggest that the prisoner release is a smokescreen to lower the flames of war along the Israeli-Lebanese border. Arab commentators note that the visit comes amid the backdrop of Iran’s desire for Hezbollah to avoid an all-out war with Israel. Hezbollah has promised not to drag Tehran into a war with Israel for the sake of Gaza.

Rumors in Lebanon claim that Safa also visited Saudi Arabia, which is also a member of the GCC.

The visit also takes place in the shadow of the heavy price that Hezbollah is paying for being penetrated by Israeli intelligence.

Hezbollah leaders have suggested that they will continue to fire rockets to prevent thousands of residents of northern Israel from returning to their homes. Israeli officials have been calling for Hezbollah to be disarmed and removed from Southern Lebanon in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War.


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Baruch reports on Arab affairs for TPS.