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Former U.S. Secretary of Defence Robert Gates on Tuesday warned that there might be an all-out war between Israel and Lebanon’s Iran-backed Shiite militia Hezbollah in 2018 following the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by U.S. President Donald Trump.

He made the remarks at the one-day annual Arab Strategy Forum held in Dubai in its 10th edition.

An Israeli border policeman looks on as he walks through tear gas fumes during clashes with Palestinian protesters near an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank city of Ramallah on December 10, 2017, following the US president's controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. New protests flared in the Middle East and elsewhere over US President Donald Trump's December 6 declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a move that has drawn global condemnation and sparked days of unrest in the Palestinian territories. / AFP PHOTO
An Israeli border policeman looks on as he walks through tear gas fumes during clashes with Palestinian protesters near an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank city of Ramallah on December 10, 2017, following the US president’s controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
New protests flared in the Middle East and elsewhere over US President Donald Trump’s December 6 declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move that has drawn global condemnation and sparked days of unrest in the Palestinian territories. / AFP PHOTO

Gates said as Hezbollah had helped the Syrian regime defeat the Islamic State (IS) group, “this might encourage the militia to step up attacks on Israel.”

Gates, who served under the two U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, said Israel in return might feel that “Hezbollah becomes a problem to deal with”.

Hezbollah has been supporting the Syrian regime under President Bashar al-Assad in its fight against IS and other militia groups in Syria through sending fighters and weapons.

In the summer of 2006, Hezbollah and Israel fought a 34-day war and have since exchanged sporadic fire along the Lebanese-Israeli border.

Gates said he expects the tension to rise between Shiite Iran and Saudi-led Sunni Arab states “as Iran continues in trying to increase its influence and meddling across the Middle East.”

 

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