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Likelihood of US-Iranian Confrontation in 2018

Likelihood of US-Iranian Confrontation in 2018

Saturday, 16 December, 2017 - 06:45
Hezbollah parade in Beirut. AFP file photo

A US strategic report issued by the Center for Preventive Action (CPA) that operates under the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) warned of a likelihood of military confrontation between the United States backed by its allies in the region and Iran.

In its tenth annual Preventive Priorities Survey, the CFR identified eight top conflict prevention priorities for the US in the year ahead, highlighting armed confrontations between the US and Iran as serious international concerns.

It wrote about “an armed confrontation between Iran and the United States or one of its allies over Iran's involvement in regional conflicts and support of militant proxy groups, including the Yemeni Houthis and Lebanese Hezbollah.”

According to the survey, which draws on the feedback of 436 government officials and foreign-policy experts, “among the eight new contingencies in this year's survey are the risks of intensified clashes between Israel and Hezbollah, and increased violence and political instability in the Sahel region of Africa.”

The survey points out at an elevated likelihood of US-Iranian confrontation over a range of explosive issues, starting from Iran’s missile and nuclear programs, to its competing for influence in Syria and Iraq, to its support for Yemeni, Lebanese, and Palestinian militant groups that the United States and US allies fiercely oppose.

In addition to Iran, the survey refers to a possible military conflict involving the United States, North Korea, and North Korea’s neighbors.

Paul Stares, the director of CFR’s Center for Preventive Action, said: “They’re the two most volatile, brewing crises at the moment.”

He noted that while last year’s poll had flagged “a severe crisis in North Korea” over its nuclear-weapons program as a first-tier risk, displacing the Syrian Civil War as the premier conflict to watch in the survey, what’s new this year are serious concerns over direct military hostilities between North Korea and the United States—and implicitly about those hostilities escalating to the first exchange of nuclear weapons in history.

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