Fears have mounted that Israel's war in Gaza could spread across the region after strikes in Lebanon and Iraq as well as deadly blasts in Iran, but experts say a wider conflict is unlikely for now.
Gary Samore, Professor of the Practice in Politics at Brandeis University, spoke to CGTN to explore the likelihood of an overspill of the Gaza war into the wider region.
"There's a significant risk that the conflict between the international coalition led by the U.S. and the Houthis will escalate because the Houthis will continue to attack [container] ships in the Red Sea," explained Samore. "The U.S. and its coalition partners have warned they may escalate the conflict and attack Houthi targets in Yemen if that continues."
Samore said that given there is fighting along the border between Israel and Lebanon, the war has "already spread."
He highlighted the escalation of attacks on U.S. forces in Syria and Iraq by armed groups associated with Iran and the "Houthi attacks on [container] ships."
But he believes "the big powers, including the U.S., Iran and Israel are not looking for an escalation of the conflict. Israel, in particular, is focusing on trying to achieve their objectives in Gaza.
"The recent killing of a top Hamas leader in Beirut is part of that effort to try to focus on Hamas. The Israelis are sending signals that they're not looking to get into a broader conflict with Hezbollah. And the Head of Hezbollah Nasrallah's speech yesterday indicated he wasn't looking for an immediate escalation either."
Samore pointed out the U.S. is also trying very hard to keep the conflict as limited as possible to Gaza.
As part of these efforts by the U.S., he thinks the main objective of the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to the Middle East will be to "persuade Israel to shift its military campaign in Gaza to a more targeted campaign and less large-scale bombing of civilian areas.
"There are some indications that Israel is beginning to move in that direction but we'll see in the coming weeks.
"The conflict in Gaza is likely to continue for a long time… Hamas continues to be a coherent military force and Israel is a long way away from defeating, much less eliminating Hamas as a military and political force in Gaza," warned the expert.