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Points of Clarity | Is the Israel-Hamas War Already Becoming a Wider Conflict?

January 25, 20242:14

Israel faces fronts with Hamas, Hezbollah, and tensions with Iran. The Houthis are engaged in conflicts, including a civil war. Robin Wright offers insights about multiple conflicts in the Middle East now converging into a larger war .

Video Transcript

  • The transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

    There are now ten different conflicts in the Middle East that are converging into one big war. We tend to separate the different conflicts. The Houthis these Hezbollah? Hamas? The Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces. But actually, they are all coming together in a way that we already have one big war. Israel faces four fronts with Hamas to the south. Hezbollah to the north.

    It still has an ongoing conflict with 16 of the 22 members of the Arab League. And, of course, it has tensions ultimately with Iran. The Houthis are facing three of their own conflicts. They've had a civil war going on for ten years. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates launched an offensive a year later in 2015 that has not yet been settled.

    And, of course, it now is taken on both Israel and international shipping in the Red Sea in the Gulf of Aden. Then you have the presence of the United States, American troops in both Syria and Iraq. There have been 140 attacks so far since October 7th against the 2500 forces in Iraq and the 900 Americans in neighboring Syria.

    So these conflicts are all having a common thread. And even though we know that the Israelis are much stronger than Hamas or Hezbollah, the United States is much stronger than Iran. But the reality is that many of these militias, these non-state actors, are willing to pay the cost in human life, in their arsenals, in the destruction of their territory, because they think at the end of the day that they are willing to bear these prices because their causes are getting more attention.

    The world is paying attention to Yemen in a way it hasn't probably ever done. And so this is a moment that we should all be attention paying attention now to whether it's going to escalate further, but how bad it's already gotten.


Robin Wright image

Robin Wright

USIP-Wilson Center Distinguished Fellow;
Author and columnist for The New Yorker
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Middle East Program

The Wilson Center’s Middle East Program serves as a crucial resource for the policymaking community and beyond, providing analyses and research that helps inform U.S. foreign policymaking, stimulates public debate, and expands knowledge about issues in the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.  Read more