According to some senior Israeli officials, Syria has passed Scud missiles to the Hezbollah group in Lebanon; if true, the source of the missiles would almost certainly be Iran. That represents a serious potential escalation in the arming of Hezbollah, giving the Islamic group the capability to strike any Israeli city. As pressure mounts on Tehran from the United States and Europe to curb its uranium enrichment, history suggests Iranian leaders will be looking for a means to change the subject and deflect the pressure. Conflict between Israel and any of its neighbors, or with terrorist proxies of Iran such as Hezbollah and Hamas, does the job nicely by inciting anti-Western outrage on the Arab street and forcing the United States to stand with Israel and against its regional Arab allies.
So, are we seeing the early signs of another looming conflict in the Middle East? What other signs should the U.S. administration be on the watch for? What impact might such a conflict have on U.S.-Arab relations, on U.S. attempts to raise pressure on Iran over its nuclear program, on U.S. interests in Iraq and Afghanistan, and on the war against Al Qaeda? Or are these reports overblown, and this is just another spike of rhetoric and empty threats?