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Mideast conflicts connected by vying powerbrokers

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18.05.2018

The modern Middle East has been plagued by ruinous wars: country versus country, civil wars with internecine and sectarian bloodletting, and numerous eruptions centered on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But never in the last 70 years have they seemed as interconnected as now with Iran and Saudi Arabia vying for regional control, while Israel also seeks to maintain a military supremacy of its own.

Russia, the United States and Turkey make up the other powerbrokers in a region where not only wars but proxy battlefields within those wars are on a feverish and hostile footing.

The ongoing wars in Syria, Yemen, this week's mass killing of Palestinians by Israel in Gaza, Turkish-Kurdish hostilities, and the potential for an all-encompassing war sparked by an Iranian-Israeli conflagration in Syria or Lebanon, all have tentacles that reach across borders and back again.

Suggestion in recent years of a Sunni/Shiite schism across the Middle East and Persian Gulf appears much less a factor than the jockeying of the key actors with the most military, financial and diplomatic muscle who are trying to shape the region in their image, or at least to the satisfaction of their national security and various leaders' hubris.

Here's a look at each of the main power players, whom they are aligned with, and what their ultimate goals are.

ISRAEL

WHAT'S AT STAKE: Direct conflict with Iran has been simmering and briefly looked like it might burst into full-blown conflagration after Israel launched a blistering bombardment of Iranian positions in Syria, killing Iranian fighters after an alleged Iranian rocket barrage toward its positions on the annexed Golan Heights. The exchange followed several earlier suspected Israeli strikes on Iranian positions in Syria.

Israel sees Iran as its mortal enemy and 'existential' threat. Conflict with Iran would likely drag in Tehran's ally, Hezbollah. An Israeli-Hezbollah conflict could play out in southern Lebanon and northern Israel, with each side warning it will strike across the opponent's country.

Israel is bolstered........

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