1. A Third Lebanon War
Amid the ongoing war between Israel and the Iran-backed terrorist group Hamas, Israel has already had to respond to missiles coming in from Hezbollah in South Lebanon. Following the Oct. 7 massacre by Hamas, around 30,000 Israeli civilians have evacuated their homes in northern Israel, fearing that Hezbollah could unleash its rocket arsenal against the Jewish state and open a new front against Jerusalem. While the United States and its allies are doing everything to deescalate, preventing another war in Lebanon, Israel has stayed vigilant in responding to fire from its northern border.
2. Iran’s Terror-Supporting Regime
As the world continues to be fixated on the ongoing tensions in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas, U.S. officials, analysts, and national security experts are concerned that in addition to funding terror groups and proxies throughout the region, the Islamic Republic of Iran is on its way to acquiring a fully developed nuclear weapon against Israel, the U.S., and the Sunni Arab states. In 2023, despite warnings from the Biden administration and the international community, the Islamic Republic vowed it would not adhere to prior commitments to the former 2015 nuclear agreement, increasing its uranium enrichment to weapons-grade level. Despite concerns from lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Biden officials maintain hope that the administration can create some new arrangement with Iran’s nuclear program before the 2024 Presidential election.
3. Potential Invasion of Guyana
In early December, the Socialist Venezuelan government approved a “referendum” called by President Nicolás Maduro to claim sovereignty over the oil-rich area of Guyana, arguing the land was stolen when the border was created a century ago. In response to the Venezuelan government’s declaration, the U.S. Southern Command conducted flight operations within Guyana to deter Maduro and his plans for invasion. Despite facing warnings from the U.S. and the U.K., Venezuelan military officials have deployed around 6,000 troops and publicly declared that such actions will not stop until the U.K. removes its military vessels sent to Guyana. If Venezuela were to invade its oil-rich neighbor Guyana, it would likely result in the disruption of global energy markets and negatively impact U.S. interests in Latin America.
4. Chinese Invasion of Taiwan
On December 31, 2023, in his New Year’s address to the people of China, President Xi Jinping said that China’s “reunification” with Taiwan is inevitable and considers the island-based country as Beijing’s “sacred territory.” A week before his speech, Xi told U.S. President Joe Biden that Beijing would reunify Taiwan with mainland China, but the timing was undecided. Despite facing warnings from U.S. lawmakers and Western allies, the Chinese communist government has increased its military buildup in 2023, preparing its forces for a potential invasion of Taiwan in the near future. Should China engage in conventional warfare with Taiwan, experts say this could create a global conflict, given that the U.S. has vowed to support Taiwan and prevent China from taking over the island state.
5. Continuation of Russia-Ukraine Conflict
Following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022, the war has gone on for more than a year, with both sides reaching a stalemate. In Washington, Congress and the White House are divided over the amount of support to provide Ukraine, with some lawmakers putting more emphasis on the Indo-Pacific and Middle East. Despite the loss of manpower and military equipment, Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to continue the invasion, promising to intensify strikes against Ukraine no matter the cost. While some in the U.S. and elsewhere have called for territorial concessions to Russia, the Ukrainian government has said it will continue its military campaign to re-take the territory that Russia occupies to this day.