Iran and Israel’s proxy war in Syria escalates
The accidental downing of a Russian military plane by Syrian anti-missile defense, which coincided with Israeli air force jets’ presence in the area, highlights the danger of the increasingly open proxy warfare between Israel and Iran. The number of parties involved – Israel, Russia, Syria, Iran and Hezbollah – points to the risk of the drawn-out Syrian conflict exploding into full-fledged regional war.
Iran and the U.S. play nuclear poker in the Middle East
After President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal, tensions between Tehran and Washington have ratcheted up significantly. A tangled web of conflicts in the region complicates the issue, while the dispute will weigh heavily on Iran’s domestic politics, which are already under their greatest strain in nearly 30 years. Military action would lead to an unpredictable chain reaction throughout the region, but negotiations could end up defusing several conflicts at once.
GIS Dossier: Saudi Arabia’s transforming role
Over the past five years, Saudi Arabia has had to make some big adjustments, as geopolitical shifts have put it in a precarious position. After the oil price slump of 2014 and Iran’s rise to regional prominence in 2015, the kingdom made strategic changes both at home and abroad. It decided to make a stand against Iranian attempts to forge a Shia crescent and moved to diversify its economy. This dossier reviews our analysts’ predictions for how successful these moves will be.
Lebanon’s condition moves toward critical
Lebanon today is the world’s only country that has two armies and two governments in peacetime. Its shadow government wields more power than the official one, while its economy, politics, military, soil, water and even the air is toxic. Interference from its neighbors has negated any chance of pulling the country back together.
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.