Israel and Iran are in a state of Cold War, and both countries have conducted a shadow war across various regions over the past several decades. Initially, allies when Iran’s monarchy ruled the nation, both states could potentially cause the largest war in the Middle East’s modern history.

Avoiding a large-scale war for now, both Tehran and Tel Aviv have resorted to a shadow conflict with Iran using various proxies and Israel fermenting relations with Arab countries that are hostile to the Islamic Republic.

The Israeli-Iranian shadow war has consequences for the Middle East. It has also reached the South Caucasus and Mediterranean, drawing in significant powers such as the United States and Russia.


Lebanon historically attempted to remain neutral but pro-western since achieving independence from France. Originally Maronite-dominated, the country suffered various ethnic and religious conflicts with the other religious groups in the country who were anti-western and more pro-Arab. The conflict would culminate in the Lebanese Civil War, a gift for the Islamic Republic.

The Mullahs, who overthrew the Pahlavi Dynasty, dispatched their army, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), to Lebanon. The Mullahs saw the marginalized Lebanese Shiites ripe for radicalization and sent several hundred IRGC to form a front in Lebanon. This front would become Hezbollah, which has waged various campaigns against Israel since the mid-80s.

Hezbollah has acted as an extended armed wing of the IRGC and answers to the Mullahs more so than the Lebanese government. The 2006 War between Israel and Hezbollah destroyed much of Lebanon’s infrastructure, and a future war could kill hundreds of thousands of civilians in both nations if the situation escalates out of control.

Protesters burn an Israeli flag during a demonstration organized by Hezbollah, in the streets of the southern Lebanese port city of Sidon on Dec. 22, 2017, to protest against U.S. President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital Via Getty Images and Tablet Mag


Armenia became caught in the crossfire between Israel and Iran in 2020. Azerbaijan, which also has a conflict with Iran, launched a war to retake the Karabakh region, which Armenia held after the first war in the early 90s.