GIS Dossier: Syria, Round 2
As Islamic State and jihadist rebels head for defeat in Syria’s civil war, the conflict is becoming more internationalized. Turkey has intervened military in the north against the Kurds, the U.S. has bombed Russian military contractors, and a rocket-propelled chess game between Israel on one side and Iran and Hezbollah on the other is heating up. If the key players aren’t careful, Round 2 in Syria could be a regional conflagration.
War in the North? Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Iran
Israel is girding for another war in southern Lebanon. But this time Hezbollah can pound northern and central Israel with up to 1,500 missiles a day – 10 times as many as it launched in the entire 2006 Lebanon war. And the conflict could well spread to Syria and Gaza, and perhaps even to Iraq and the Mediterranean offshore gas fields. As Iran supplies Hezbollah with ever more advanced missile technologies, the window for a preemptive strike by the Israeli Defense Forces is closing.
Israel and Hezbollah: The war nobody wants may be about to happen
It may already be too late to avoid another armed conflict in the Middle East. Iran has systematically upgraded Hezbollah’s ability to strike at strategic and civilian targets deep inside Israel. Increasingly, the only viable option for Israel’s military to neutralize this threat is another invasion of southern Lebanon.
Syria heads toward renewed conflict
Daesh’s imminent defeat in Syria has brought new tensions to the fore. Iran now has proxies and allies right next door to Israel, while the U.S. has committed to a long-term military presence. Russia’s main objective continues to be securing its Syrian bases, and Turkey is becoming more isolated over its insistence on keeping Kurdish groups from controlling any territory. These factors form a volatile mix that makes it difficult to foresee anything but renewed conflict in the already war-torn country.
2018 Global Outlook: Four dangerous dynamics in the Middle East
Early 2018 finds the Middle East at a singular moment in its history. It is hard to recall a period when so many fundamental geopolitical shifts have occurred just as societies, states and alliances in the region were all starting to fall apart. Four disruptive trends can be identified, any one of which would have sufficed to produce regional instability in the not-too-distant past. Today, their combination creates a formidable dynamic for armed conflict.
Opinion: Jerusalem recognition narrows U.S. options on Iran
President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has hurt U.S. efforts to build a Sunni alliance against Iran. Given the risk of a region-wide conflict erupting near the Golan Heights or in southern Lebanon, its timing was also unfortunate. However, there could be a deeper logic behind the move.
Opinion: A combustible pentagon in the Middle East
For security in the Middle East, the real Pentagon is not a building on the Potomac but the potential for a five-sided conflict involving Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Russia and Israel. To these forces on the ground, one can add two players by remote control: the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. The danger is not subsiding with Islamic State’s defeat and the reassertion of control by Syrian government forces. In some ways, it is getting stronger.
Opinion: How Kirkuk could trigger a new major war
Iraqi Kurdistan’s disastrous decision to press ahead with an independence referendum has allowed the Iraqi federal government to reassert control over Kirkuk and its vital oil fields. But an even bigger consequence of Baghdad’s resurgence could be a potential conflict with its erstwhile sponsor, Tehran. Any such confrontation would quickly become regional in scope, bringing in Saudi Arabia, the United States and possibly Israel.
GIS Dossier: Iran’s rise
Iran has methodically built up its influence in the Middle East to become one of the most important powers in the region. It has a growing foothold in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Qatar. Its rise has inflamed tensions with Saudi Arabia, while a nascent rapprochement with the U.S. has withered under President Donald Trump. It is stepping up military interventions abroad, but remains deeply divided at home. This edition of our Dossier series reviews how Iran got here and our experts’ predictions about what this means for the region and the world.
Jordan’s admirable stability – can it last?
Surrounded by a sea of instability and with few natural resources, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has its share of challenges. So far, however, it has met them with considerable success. Western assistance has helped, especially support from the United States. But Jordan’s leaders – first King Hussein and now King Abdullah II – carefully steered the country toward peaceful coexistence and even security cooperation with Israel, while keeping terrorism at bay. The question is whether this linchpin of the Middle East can continue to hold.