While Israel is now withdrawing forces from Gaza under pressure to pursue lower-level combat operations, external incidents continue to escalate from Lebanon and Iraq to the Red Sea shipping lanes and inside Iran.
With respect to Iran, two explosions presumed to be by suicide bombers along the road to the cemetery to mark the 2020 assassination of prominent Iranian general Qassem Soleimani killed as many as 100 people earlier this week. While initially no one claimed responsibility, the Islamic State claimed the attack just a day later, with Iran vowing revenge. While IS has claimed responsibility, Iranian government-controlled TV was airing footage of crowds across the country chanting “Death to Israel and America”.
In the Red Sea, Maersk found five container ships stranded, managing to reroute four of them back through the Suez Canal. Last Saturday, the Houthis attacked another Maersk ship.
In Iraq, the U.S. military carried out an attack in Baghdad targeting a pro-Iranian militia (Harakat al Nujaba) leader said to be behind recent attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq. The Iraqi prime minister’s military spokesperson condemned the attack on an “Iraqi security entity” operating with the PM’s authorization. Of course, the PM (Sudani) is beholden to pro-Iranian militia figures who helped him win the election and who also happen to have a highly influential bloc in the ruling coalition. This aspect of the Middle…