Gaza, Lebanon, Iran: a conflagration in the Mid-East?

Tensions are still running high in the Middle East: the fighting between Israel and the Lebanese Hezbollah continues, as does Israel's battle against Hamas in Gaza. Shortly before the weekend, the Sunni terrorist militia Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for an attack that left more than 90 people dead at a memorial service for Qassem Soleimani in Kerman, Iran. The US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned of an escalation in the region.

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El País (ES) /

Everyone wants dominance but no one has the means

For El País a tragic dynamic stands in the way of escalation:

“The current sense of a loss of control in the Middle East is compounded by the desire of all players to impose their will at the expense of their neighbours. They have in fact been doing this for decades, but now, in the context of the war, this struggle for dominance is even more obvious, especially among the US, Israel and Iran. ... Everyone wants it, but no one has the means. ... From this it can be deduced that no one - apart from the IS and others who believe 'the worse things are, the better' - is interested in provoking a regional escalation. ... It is rather the case that everyone is dreaming of what they are not, caught up in a tragedy in which they are fanning the flames and hoping that the wind will blow in their favour.”

Aargauer Zeitung (CH) /

Escalation wouldn't make sense now

The Aargauer Zeitung also doesn't believe that a major conflagration is possible:

“Most likely Hamas had hoped on 7 October to draw Hezbollah and Iran into a major war against the Jewish state with the mass murder of civilians in Israel. ... At the time, Israel was surprised and in a state of shock. ... A multi-front war with Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon would probably have overwhelmed Israel. But this favourable moment for Hamas has long since passed. Seen in this light, it makes no sense for Iran and Hezbollah to be interested in triggering a major war against Israel right now.”

Unian (UA) /

Weaken Tehran's influence

In an article in Unian, political scientist Volodymyr Volya lists the things that could guarantee a stable peace in the region:

“One of the factors is the neutralisation of Iran's influence . ... This issue can be resolved by sending in a security mission and creating an architecture of political power in the Gaza Strip. It would be only reasonable to involve the Arab states in such a plan. They would not be seen as occupiers and could assume responsibility for preventing a large-scale resurgence of Hamas activity in the area.”

Avvenire (IT) /

Multiplying conflict zones

If more and more states become involved in the war, the worst is to be feared, warns Avvenire:

“Even if the jihadist matrix of the attack in Iran is confirmed, it's clear that the danger of the region being plunged into an ever broader conflict without rules and with multiplying conflict zones and involved parties is growing. ... Despite the generally pragmatic line taken by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. ... Because if the geopolitical scenario in the region becomes ever more inflamed it will inevitably slide towards the worst scenario. ... Especially since the Israeli ultra-right is fuelling violence against Palestinians in the West Bank and openly talking about ethnic cleansing, with hints about deportations.”

Aargauer Zeitung (CH) /

Escalation can't be ruled out

The situation is becoming increasingly explosive, writes the Aargauer Zeitung:

“The radical Sunni Islamic State already carried out bombings in Shiite Iran last year and in 2022. Soleimani commanded the campaign of Iranian troops against the IS in Iraq ten years ago, and played a major role in driving it out of the country. ... The terror in Kerman is the latest climax in an escalation spiral in the Middle East that began with the Gaza war in October. ... Even if Israel and Iran have no interest in a new war, there is a growing danger that they will stumble into an armed conflict because of the tensions surrounding the Gaza war. Attacks like the one in Kerman harbour the risk of further escalation.”

Adevărul (RO) /

Restore lost security guarantees

Despite all the current difficulties it is in the interests of the West to keep the region in check, political analyst Cristian Unteanu stresses in Adevărul:

“The explanation for this lies in the huge dependence of the super-industrialised West on the resources of the countries in the Middle East. There are also concerns about the security of the movement of goods. ... Since the defeat in Afghanistan and the failure of the 'war on terror', the US's alliances with the states in the region, which were previously the quasi-absolute guarantee of security, have been weakened or even dangerously eroded. What's more, not only have the terrorist movements in the various countries survived, they have developed into independent, non-state military forces with their own agenda.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Half-hearted solidarity between denominations

Hamas and Hezbollah are not as close as one might think, Corriere della Sera explains:

“At the funeral of Sheikh al-Arouri in Beirut yesterday there were dozens of Hamas flags, a few from the rival Palestinian faction Fatah, and none, not even one, from Hezbollah. ... It was a Sunni ceremony in a Sunni mosque, in a Sunni neighbourhood. Only two representatives of the Hezbollah Shiites who provided a refuge for al-Arouri in their neighbourhood of the Lebanese capital were present. Despite the fact that the Lebanese Shia leader Hassan Nasrallah had made a strong statement in his speech on Wednesday.”

Dnevnik (SI) /

Interest in a regional conflict?

Without specifying who the masterminds are, Dnevnik suspects that the entire region is being dragged into a war:

“The death of al-Arouri, who was by no means the most important Hamas leader, is crucial mainly because of the location. ... He was killed by a drone in southern Beirut, where Hezbollah has its headquarters. The attack was an open challenge to Hezbollah to enter the war. ... When more than a eighty people were killed yesterday in Kerman, Iran, the outlines of a policy that seeks to lure the putative 'rebel forces' (Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and the Houthis) into an open regional conflict were revealed.”

El País (ES) /

A threat to global peace

The current wars all have the potential to to escalate on a large scale, fears El País:

“While the war in Ukraine is spreading into Russia and increasing the nuclear threat, the war in the Gaza Strip is spreading across the Lebanese border with the rockets and drones of Hezbollah; in the West Bank it is spreading due to the provocations of extremist settlers; in Lebanon with the targeted assassination of Saleh al-Arouri; on the coast of Yemen with the actions of the Houthi rebels. ... And this Wednesday also in Iran. ... Washington is focused on one strategic goal in both wars: preventing them from getting out of control, threatening world peace and dragging its troops into the wasp's nest - as has been the case with so many other wars over the last century. All the big wars began as local feuds that then escalated and spread.”