While armed nonstate actors and proxy militias have been grabbing most headlines in recent years, the risk of interstate war in the Middle East is rising at an alarming rate. This includes the risk of war between Israel and Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iran, and possibly the United States and Iran, or the United States and Russia. Tensions between Israel and Iran have boiled over several times in recent weeks in Syria, risking a serious escalation between the two countries. Iranian-supplied missiles have been launched from Houthi-held areas in Yemen targeting Riyadh and other Saudi towns and cities, risking an escalation between the two regional powers. Tension also persists between the United States and Iran as the Trump administration moves away from the JCPOA. In Syria, U.S. and Russian forces are flying missions in a crowded air and military space; the risk of escalation there between the two superpowers also cannot be discounted.
How high is the risk of interstate war in the Middle East? What are the dynamics of these various tension axes? How could the United States and other regional and international powers help avert such potential outbreaks?
The Middle East Institute (MEI) is pleased to host a panel featuring Martin Indyk of the Brookings Institution, Kenneth Pollack of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), MEI's Bilal Y. Saab, Julianne Smith of the Center for New American Security (CNAS) to discuss these mounting tensions and how best to address them. MEI's senior vice president for policy reserach and programs, Paul Salem, will moderate the discussion.