I don’t consider myself an expert on Middle Eastern affairs. I was stationed in Iraq for a year and that gave me some insight into Iraqi culture and how things tend to work there. I follow Middle East news closely, somewhat because of my tour there but mostly because what happens in the Middle East has a huge effect on so many of the world’s nations and economies. What is happening in the Middle East now is scary, on many different levels.
As a whole, it seems that all the countries and societies in the Middle East are either broken or on the path to some level of chaos. Egypt is being divided by the Muslim Brotherhood 7.62×39 bulk ammo and the Egyptian military, and its long time ties with the U.S. are being frayed. Syria’s civil war and dictatorial beat down of its’ people coupled with its stockpile of chemical weapons is kind of like cornering a skunk in the wood shed – you know you have to do something to get the skunk out of the shed, but it’s not going to be pretty and its going to leave a bad smell (and possibly a case of rabies). Libya is still a big unknown as
far as which way they are going to swing – will it be another Muslim Brotherhood country or will they go the moderate route. Iraq is a powder keg, the Sunnis and Shiites have been fighting for hundreds of years and really have no incentive to stop tomorrow. Yemen, Bahrain, Tunisia, and more countries have had unrest. Really, the biggest problem out there, however, is between Israel and Iran.
Just today we hear that there were two terror related incidents at Israeli embassies in India and Georgia, one of the incidents resulted in injuries from a bomb detonating on a car. The war drums have been getting louder and louder over the past several years, and I think it is obvious that it’s only a matter of time before Israel carries out military action against Iran. And by “a matter of time” I think we are looking at weeks, not months before something happens. And when Israel attacks Iran it will be a major shock to the world, first because there hasn’t been a major military conflict between Israel and another powerful country in many years (this doesn’t include Lebanon, Gaza, etc.) and second, because Iran probably is going to lash out and try to cause the maximum damage and chaos to those it perceives are opposing it
Interdiction of Iran’s nuclear capability is kept to cyber attacks and sabotage of their infrastructure. Also unlikely because of the perception that they are at the point of no return for uranium enrichment and also because they have moved their nuclear operations to hardened sites. They will also get smart about who accesses their nuclear infrastructure.
Action is limited to Israel attacking Iran’s nuclear bunkers and missile sites. Iran then lashes out at Israeli and U.S. interests in the Middle East. I believe a very limited attack could happen, but considering that Iran could rebuild and the world would have to deal with them being at the red line again in a few years, I don’t think Israel would want to expend ordnance and lives on a small-scale attack. Any response from Iran will require a response from the countries being retaliated upon. Gas prices skyrocket.
Israel, the U.S., Britain, and maybe a few other allies hit many hardened nuclear sites, ballistic missile sites, and military infrastructure over several days. Iran is able to get off some of their missiles, but they are inaccurate and afford no strategic benefits for them. The Iranians then default to terror attacks, attacks on shipping in the Persian Gulf, and attempts to damage U.S. and Saudi oil infrastructure in the Gulf area. A low-level conflict bubbles for several months as the attempt to take out as many of the Iranian sites as possible continues. Gas goes through the roof, and the world economy takes damage, too.
The same as number four, but the Iranian allies (Syria, Hezbollah) decide to throw their hats into the ring and start rocketing Israel which results in Israel going after terrorist bases in Lebanon and Syria. Also, the fear of Syria using its chemical and/or bio weapons results in strikes on Syrian military bases and ammo depots across Syria.
The same as number five, but include the use of chemical weapons (Syrian and Iranian) against Israel. Low probability of chemical weapon strikes on U.S. bases in the Gulf area. If the chemical attacks result in small numbers of Israeli deaths and injuries, Israel will execute a huge conventional retaliation against Syria and Iran, taking out large portions of the civilian utility infrastructure and pretty
much annihilating their military infrastructure. Decapitation attacks against the Iranian and Syrian governments also happen. If the chemical attacks result in a large loss of life, then I think the odds of a tactical nuclear response by the Israelis is high. At this point Russia inserts itself into the equation either on purpose or by accident. Gas doesn’t just skyrocket, it goes in to orbit. Fear and loathing over takes the world economy and pushes it into a depression. The free movement of people and goods between countries halts for a while. The security apparatus of most western countries goes into overdrive to prevent large- scale terror attacks.