Next Middle East War Imminent?

Had enough of the current Middle East war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza? Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news.

But it’s time to get ready for the next phase of this war. The next Middle East war will also involve Israel. Except in this war, Israel’s guns will be pointing north toward Lebanon.

And it risks a much wider conflict, with Iran in particular. Let’s break it down…

Recent intelligence from a variety of sources points to an Israeli war against Hezbollah, which is an Iranian proxy.

Hezbollah is systematically attacking Israeli bases, radars, intelligence-collections facilities and other defense system components. Now the attacks are spreading to include Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Galilee. You’re just not hearing about it in the mainstream media.

These attacks have three effects: They break down Israeli military and intelligence systems, terrorize the civilian population and handicap Israel’s ability to conduct air attacks on Syria or Lebanon.

War on Multiple Fronts

The new war will be fought in the north of Israel. Additional fighting will take place in southern Lebanon, the area around the northern West Bank, the Golan Heights and the Sea of Galilee.

I’ve been in or near all of those places. It’s amazing how compact and close together it all is. It’s only about 40 miles from the Israeli border to Damascus and another 40 miles from the Golan Heights to the Mediterranean Sea.

It only takes minutes from takeoff to do a bombing run or a missile attack and perhaps only a day or two to move tank battalions depending on resistance.

Obviously, this state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. Israel’s recourse is to stop playing defense and go on offense. That means massive air strikes on Lebanon and Syria, even at the cost of missile attacks on Israel.

Sunshine Patriots

The Israelis might be able to scrounge up some Patriot anti-missile systems from the U.S., but there are very few left because they’ve been sent to Ukraine.

By the way, the war in Ukraine hasn’t demonstrated the superiority of the Patriot. Far from it. It’s largely failed against Russia’s advanced, hypersonic missiles. These missiles have, in fact, taken out several Patriot systems.

If you were a foreign nation seeking defenses against hypersonic missiles like Russia’s Zircon and Kinzhal, would you really seek out the Patriot? Probably not. It’s just not that effective against the latest generation of missiles.

There’s some debate about whether or not these missiles are truly hypersonic. Practically speaking, it doesn’t really matter. The key takeaway is that the Patriot isn’t effective against them.

Iron Done

Air defense is the critical flip side of air superiority. The best information is that Hezbollah has devised ways to avoid Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system, most likely through the use of drones. Hezbollah has long had 10,000 or more missiles, mostly supplied by Iran.

In the past, Israel could rely on its Iron Dome to protect most major cities and many settlements.

That defense has now proved inadequate. You might recall that in April, Iran attacked Israel with hundreds of (mostly) drones and ballistic missiles in retaliation for Israel’s attack upon the Iranian consulate in Damascus.

Most of the incoming targets were shot down. The media touted that as proof of Israel’s excellent missile defenses.

But they neglected to inform you that a number of missiles penetrated Israel’s defenses and struck Israeli military/intelligence bases. This is the most heavily defended airspace in the world. But a number of Iranian ballistic missiles got through. Iron Dome is being referred to in the region as “Iron Done.”

Don’t think that Israel hasn’t gotten that message.

Two Can Play That Game

It’s not clear what specific type of ballistic missile Iran used to attack these bases in April. But what if Russia gives Iran even more sophisticated missile technology to use against Israel?

The U.S. and its NATO allies have authorized Ukraine to use the missiles they’ve supplied it with to strike targets inside Russia itself. That’s just more escalation, and Russia has warned about the consequences of that decision.

Despite what you hear in the mainstream media, Putin isn’t a crazy warmonger who wants war with the U.S. and NATO. That’s just propaganda. In reality, Putin is very calculated and cautious.

So any Russian retaliation probably won’t attack NATO countries directly. But just like the U.S. is using Ukraine as a proxy to attack Russia, Russia could use its own proxies to attack U.S. interests around the world.

After all, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander!

Russian Options

Supplying Iran with advanced missile technology that would threaten Israel, a key U.S. ally, would perfectly fit that proxy approach. Maybe Russia also gives the Houthi rebels in Yemen more advanced anti-ship missiles to target shipping in the Red Sea, potentially including U.S. warships.

The Houthis have been using drones and antiquated missiles based on technology from the 1960s. U.S. warships have been able to intercept most of them. But if Russia supplies them with advanced anti-ship missiles, that would change. These missiles would represent a legitimate threat to the U.S. Navy.

Russia could also arm proxies in Syria with advanced drones, for example, to attack U.S. forces based in Syria

Would that be an escalation? Yes. But it wouldn’t be a direct attack on U.S. interests. It would be an indirect attack through proxy, just like the U.S. is waging an indirect proxy war against Russia.

The larger point is that the war in Ukraine and the war in the Middle East cannot be neatly compartmentalized. They’re connected parts of a greater geopolitical conflict that’s taking place.

Conflicting Visions

It’s the old “rules-based” liberal U.S.-centric global order that’s prevailed since the end of the Cold War versus the emerging multipolar world led primarily by Russia and China.

The latter is represented by the rising BRICS+ nations that are forming their own bloc to counter what they perceive as U.S. arrogance and hegemony.

The bottom line is we could well be facing a new Middle East war, with global implications. It’s likely because Israel must go on offense to avoid being left without defense, which it will not accept.

Markets are not prepared for this wider war, but it’s probably coming soon.

The Daily Reckoning