Over the past couple of years, several wars in the Middle East have died down. The U.S. ended most of its Inherent Resolve combat missions against ISIS in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and the Houthis have observed a delicate ceasefire in Yemen. Primary combat operations of the Syrian Civil War have died down with meditations between Turkey, Russia, and Assad’s government.

With a relative yet uneasy “peace” in the region, low-level conflicts with the potential to become an open war have emerged. Iran and Israel have been waging a shadow conflict across the Middle East and South Caucasus that could have broader U.S. implications as Iranian proxies have targeted American forces in the region on several dozen occasions. Initially, these acts were seen as low-level tit-for-tat operations that could not have gone into an open conflict. Still, due to geopolitical tensions, it is now possible, and the U.S. should be prepared for any scenario.

Iranian ballistic missiles fired at U.S. bases in the Middle East.

The Shadow Conflict Between Israel and Iran

Hostile relations between Israel and Iran have put the region on edge. When the Mullahs took power from the Shah in 1979, they later declared a fatwa and intention to destroy Israel. Realizing they could use their new personal military, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), to export their theocratic interests, Tehran would strike against Israel and the West in several nations.

In Lebanon, the IRGC formed the militia and terrorist organization Hezbollah. The Iranian-backed militia was responsible for the Marine Barracks and Embassy bombings along with frequent guerrilla tactics against the IDF for several decades.