Tensions in the Middle East: The War in Gaza, Iran, and the Houthis

As Israel’s war in Gaza approaches its fifth month, fears of regional escalation are mounting as multiple nations target each other’s territories in a series of escalatory strikes. Israeli forces have clashed with Hezbollah along the Israel-Lebanon border since the start of the war, and have continued to strike targets in Syria as well. These have been joined by the Houthi’s attacks on shipping in the Red Sea in an effort to disrupt Israel’s war, prompting retaliatory strikes from the US and UK, while Saudi Arabia has remained reluctant to restart military operations against the Houthis. Meanwhile, Iran has struck targets in Iraq and Syria, and engaged in tit-for-tat attacks against Pakistan.



  • Jonathan Lord is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Middle East Security program at CNAS. Prior to joining CNAS, Lord served as a professional staff member for the House Armed Services Committee, serving the full committee and managing the U.S. Central Command/Middle East defense policy portfolio, as well as issues related to security assistance.


  • Sina Azodi is a PhD candidate in international affairs at University of South Florida, where he is completing a dissertation on Iran’s nuclear program. His research interests include international security, nuclear nonproliferation, and U.S.-Iranian relations. He previously worked as a research assistant at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Sina is also visiting scholar and a lecturer of international affairs at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, where he teaches a graduate course on Iran’s foreign policy in the Middle East.


  • Barbara Slavin is a distinguished fellow at the Stimson Center in Washington and a lecturer in international affairs at George Washington University. Prior to joining Stimson, she founded and directed the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council and led a bi-partisan task force on Iran. The author of Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the US and the Twisted Path to Confrontation (2007), she is a regular commentator on US foreign policy and Iran on NPR, PBS and C-Span.


  • Negar Mortazavi is an award-winning journalist and commentator, editor and host of the Iran Podcast, and a Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy (CIP), based in Washington DC. She has been covering Iranian and Middle Eastern affairs as well as US foreign policy towards the Middle East for over a decade. Mortazavi is a frequent media commentator and has appeared on CNN, NBC, NPR, BBC, France24, Aljazeera, and other global outlets. She has written for Foreign Policy magazine, Politico, The Intercept, The Independent, and other publications, and is regularly invited to speak at panels and conferences around the world about Iranian affairs and US foreign policy.