New Delhi, Jan 17: The Israel-Gaza conflict is now demonstrating a heightened risk of expanding into neighbouring countries. Recent incidents include sideline attacks, with Iran targeting Iraq and Pakistan, Houthi assaults on cargo ships in the Red Sea, and the US and UK, along with various forces, retaliating against Houthi rebels and other militant positions in Lebanon have raised the alarm of expanding conflict and chances of increasing mishap.
The conflict, which initially remained within the confines of the Palestine-Israel geographical areas, has now spilt beyond designated borders, prompting involvement from the UN and other countries that initially restricted or delayed their actions.
The US and UK have accused Iran of supporting rebels who persistently launch missiles and drones at Israeli and US positions. Despite the imbalance in military power, the conflict has extended for over three months, leading to engagements beyond the Palestine-Israel borders.
Multiple attacks in Yemen on Houthi positions and Hezbollah cadres have escalated the conflict into a regional conflict. Iran responded by targeting US positions in Iraq, Kurdistan, and even inside Pakistan.
Houthi rebels have maintained control over Yemen, with the government operated by authorities in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The situation is increasing pressure on the US, UK, Western allies, and Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE to intervene due to the expanding conflict in their region indirectly.
Iran's alleged funding of Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Houthi rebels in Yemen has heightened tensions, leveraging influence to exert pressure on the US.
The Israeli-Lebanese border witnesses escalating exchanges of fire between the IDF and Hezbollah, with the assassination of Hamas deputy military leader Saleh al Arouri in southern Beirut and the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah potentially sparking revenge-seeking actions from both Hamas and Hezbollah.
Concerns arise about future suicidal militant attacks or lone-wolf incidents. The Red Sea and Yemen, under Houthi control, face the possibility of increased fights and attacks on ships. Recent events in Yemen, where Houthi fighters were killed during an attack on a Maersk merchant ship, highlight the volatile situation.
US forces stationed in the Middle East, primarily aimed at preventing the resurgence of the Islamic State, have faced more frequent attacks.
The conflict in Gaza has diverted global attention and support away from Ukraine in its war with Russia, adding further pressure on the US to find a resolution and halt the escalating tensions in the region, which, so far, have proven unsuccessful.
The prolonged conflict in Gaza has already heightened the risk of a broader regional escalation. Egypt, sharing a border with Israel and Gaza, maintains a complex relationship with Hamas due to its origins in the Muslim Brotherhood. Despite a formal peace treaty with Israel, the Egyptian public leans pro-Palestinian, posing challenges for Egyptian regimes.
Jordan, another signatory of a peace treaty with Israel, faces complications due to over 2 million registered Palestinian refugees in the country. The Waqf, administered by the Jordanian government, adds to Jordan's involvement in Israeli-Palestinian issues.
Israel's concerns include potential two-front conflicts with Hezbollah and Hamas, with recent limitations on Hezbollah due to Lebanon's political and economic challenges. Israel's strikes in Syria aim at disrupting Iranian weapon supply routes to Hezbollah and Hamas.
Iran, a longstanding foe of Israel, warns of intervention in the event of an Israeli ground invasion in Gaza. Regional responses hinge on Tehran, with Iran possibly using proxies to intervene. US naval presence signals opposition to Iranian intervention.
Attacks on US bases in Iraq by Iranian-aligned groups complicate the situation, with threats demanding the US withdrawal. Yemen's Houthi rebels, backed by Iran, raise stakes by targeting Saudi Arabia and potentially posing a threat to Israel.
As the Israel-Hamas conflict enters its third month, Americans express concerns about increased violence against Jewish people in the US, a prolonged war, expansion to other Middle Eastern countries, and the possibility of a terrorist attack in some other country further raises the concern.
The validity of these concerns is undeniable, given that the ongoing attacks significantly impact crucial sea lanes and the transit duration of cargo ships. This has sparked apprehensions about potential inflation and shortages of essential goods, raising alarm about the well-being of the general population.