Emerging Threats in the Middle East
Emergence of a nuclear Iran; turmoil in Egypt and destabilization of secular, pro-Western Middle Eastern states; blurring of the lines between unconventional, conventional, and low-intensity conflicts; explosion of information challenges in and around the battlefields—all of these concerns will increasingly challenge U.S. and regional policymakers and military commanders in the Middle East and beyond. These were conclusions at Israel’s flagship national security event, the Herzliya Conference, which ended February 9.
The prestigious conference, organized by Interdisciplinary College Herzliya, attracted NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen; U.K. Defense Minister Liam Fox; U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Alexander Vershbow; former U.S. National Security Advisor General (Ret.) Jim Jones; foreign and finance ministers from the Netherlands, Italy, and the Czech Republic, and Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, the outgoing Israeli Defense Forces Chief of General Staff.
The rise of Iran and its rush to acquire nuclear weapons shifts the balance of power in the Gulf and beyond, as Tehran gains power to strike European capitals from Athens to Moscow by 2014. U.S. intelligence assessments recognize that Iran could gain intercontinental ballistic missile capacity by 2015. Iran is becoming “the neighborhood bully,” said Tzipi Livni, the leader of the main opposition Kadima party and the former Israeli foreign minister. “Iran should not be allowed to become a nuclear power,” Livni said.