Armed Conflicts
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The situation in the Middle East will get out of control! The Houthi attacks and the US involvement

The war in Gaza risks becoming a wider conflict that will destabilise the Middle East. The Pentagon said late Monday that its forces launched attacks on three facilities in Iraq linked to Qatab Hezbollah. Washington said the Iranian-backed Iraqi insurgent group was behind an attack that wounded three Americans, leaving one in critical condition.

U.S. strikes on targets in Iraq and new Houthi attacks on passing ships in the Red Sea are the latest bells that there is an increased risk that the Israel-Hamas war could turn into a wider conflict that will further destabilize the Middle East.


In particular, on the US side, the Pentagon announced late on Monday that its forces had launched raids on three installations in Iraq linked to the military arm of Hezbollah.

The Pentagon announced late Monday that its forces launched strikes on three facilities in Iraq linked to Qatab Hezbollah. Washington said the Iranian-backed Iraqi insurgent group was behind an attack that wounded three Americans, leaving one in critical condition.

"While we do not seek to escalate the conflict in the region, we are committed and fully prepared to take further necessary steps to protect our personnel and facilities," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said. He called it a "necessary and proportionate" response.

Then, on Tuesday, Yemen-based Houthi rebels launched new attacks on ships in the Red Sea. MSC Mediterranean Shipping Co. confirmed that the container ship MSC United VIII was hit while en route to Pakistan. It said no injuries were reported. The Houthis, also backed by Iran, said in a statement that they would continue to attack Israeli ships and vessels sailing to Israel.

Yesterday, the US announced that 12 drones, 3 ballistic missiles against ships and two more missiles in the southern Red Sea were shot down by various military assets, including aircraft." The same post specified that no damage or injuries were reported.

The US and other states (including Greece) have formed a special team to respond to the attacks in the Red Sea. With that assurance, AP Moller-Maersk A/S, the world's second-largest container shipping company, said over the weekend that it was preparing to restart transits through the Red Sea.

Although Iran has denied helping militants attack merchant ships, the Islamic Republic has pledged that Israel will pay the price for an airstrike in Syria on Monday that killed a senior Revolutionary Guard Corps commander.

"Clearly, the longer the Israel-Hamas war continues with this kind of tension, the more likely there will be some escalation," said Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former U.S. official who has served as an adviser to secretaries of state on the Middle East.

The number of non-state groups, as well as the unpredictability of both Israeli military operations and Iran's possible responses, makes it difficult to predict when specific incidents might trigger a wider escalation. But Miller said the U.S. would likely be forced to act more forcefully if a regional group succeeds in killing members of U.S. forces. "If we are directly attacked and Americans die, then there will have to be a much, much heavier response," he said.

The US has deployed aircraft carrier strike groups in an attempt to prevent Iranian-backed forces in the region from striking Israel, which continues its operations in Gaza unabated. However, US officials also put pressure on Israel to end its high-intensity operations in the Strip, which have killed some 20,000 people, according to the Hamas health ministry.

But for Israeli officials concerned about Hezbollah fighters in neighboring Lebanon and other groups in the region, the current conflict already looks like the broader war the U.S. says it is trying to prevent.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told the Knesset that Israel was in the middle of a "multi-front war", having already been attacked from seven different regions - Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, Iraq, Yemen and Iran.

"We have already taken action against six of those seven, and I will now say in the clearest possible terms that anyone who takes action against us will become a potential target," he told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

"There will be no immunity for anyone."

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