War List of Middle Eastern Conflicts 

 This list currently covers Middle Eastern wars and conflicts from the 1948 Arab-Israeli War to the Present, along with other conflicts involving Middle Eastern nations. For the purposes of this list, the Middle East comprises Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia. NOTE: Libya's wars include participation in the Arab-Israeli Wars and has been in conflict with Egypt.

This list of Middle Eastern wars and conflicts is presented in chronological order from 1948 to the present. Recent updates include the 2019-2020 Iran-U.S. Crisis centered around Iraq.

See also our updated Wars of Turkey page, with information on Turkey's intervention in, and conflict with, Syria.

Listen to our latest Podcast dealing with the Syrian War at


"Shock and Awe" airstrikes in Baghdad, Iraq in 2003

Israeli War of Independence (1948-1949)--Upon Israel's declaration of independence, Egypt, Transjordan, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia join the local Palestinian militias in attacking Israel. This was in reality a continuation of years of low-level combat between the Jewish and Arab communities in British Palestine.

Suez War (1956)-Israel, France, and Britain invade Egypt. U.S. and Soviet pressure force a cease-fire and allied withdrawal from Egyptian territory.

Iraqi Army Revolt/Coup- (July 14, 1958)--Brigadier General Abdul Karim el Qassim overthrows the royal government of King Faisal II. Both the king and Prime Minister Nouri al Said are killed. Qassim soon withdrew Iraq from the pro-Western Baghdad Pact and established friendly relations with the Soviet Union.

Lebanese Civil War (1958)-Lebanon's Christian and Muslim communities engaged in civil conflict. The United States landed troops in the country to halt the fighting.

Mosul (Iraq) Revolt--(March, 1959)--Pro-Qassim communist militia , called the People's Resistance Force, violently suppressed an anti-Qassim Sunni Army faction made up mostly of junior officers.

Kirkuk (Iraq) Violence -(1959)--Pro-Qassim (pro-Communist) Kurds and People's Resistance Force killed ethnic Turkomen in Kirkuk.

1960 Turkish coup d'état--The Turkish Army overthrew the government of Prime Minister Adnan Menderes.

Iraqi Kurdish Revolt—(1961-1970) –After a period of relative calm, Iraqi government promises of Kurdish autonomy, or self-rule, went unfulfilled, sparking discontent and eventual rebellion among the Kurds in 1961. 

1963 Ba'athist coup in Syria (1963) Violent coup in which the Ba'ath party took power in Syria. The Ba'ath party is still in control and is the goverment side in the modern Syrian Civil War.

North Yemen Civil War (1966-1970)-Royalist rebels fought to overthrow the "Republican" government. Egypt sent troops to help the government, while Saudi Arabia aided the rebels.

Dhofar Rebellion in Oman (1960's-1970's)-Marxist rebels, aided by South Yemen, fought against the conservative, pro-western Omani government. The Shah of Iran sent troops to help fight the rebels, and Britain supplied officers for the the Omani army. The rebels were defeated in the early 1970s.\

Six-Day War (1967)--Israel launched a pre-emptive attack on Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. The Iraqi air force was also attacked by Israel.

The War of Attrition (1968-1970)--Border war between Egypt and Israel. Basically an extension of their fighting in the Six-Day War.

Jordanian Civil War (1970)-The Jordanian government expelled the Palestine Liberation Orgaination, partly to end Israels's excuse for continual raids and invasions of Jordan to fight the PLO. Syria sent troops to aid the PLO. Despite that aid, the PLO was forced to move to Lebanon.

1971 Turkish coup d'état--The Turkish Army overthrew the government of the conservative prime minister, Suleyman Demirel.

Yom Kippur [or Ramadan] War (1973)--Egypt and Syria launch a surprise attack on Israel on the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. The attack is also on the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. Iraq sent troops to aid the Syrians.

Iraqi Kurdish Revolt -(March, 1974) -–In March, 1974, Kurdish rebels led by Mullah Mustafa Barzani (having survived an assassination attempt) rebelled against the government.  The Kurds felt that the government was not living up to the agreement which ended the previous revolt.

Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990)-When the PLO moved to Lebanon, it helped upset the balance between the Christian and Muslim communities in Lebanon. When civil war broke out, the PLO sided with the several Muslim militias, and Israel aided the Christians. Syria sent troops as part of an Arab League force to stop the fighting. Syrian forces finally withdrew from Lebanon in April of 2005.

Egyptian-Libyan Border War (June 21-24, 1977)-Border conflict between Egypt and Libya.

Intra-Iraqi Kurdish warfare (1978-1979) --In 1975, Jalal Talabani formed the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)-urban-based and leftist) in opposition the Barzani-led Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP).

Iraqi Shia unrest in Karbala -(February, 1979)--Suppressed by the Saddam regime. Under Saddam Hussein, the Shiites (Shia) were a persecuted religious group, both despite the fact, and because of, their numerical majority in the country.

Islamic Brotherhood Insurgency in Syria (1979-1982)-Sunni Islamist rebellion against the Ba'ath Party in Syria, which is dominated by the Alawite religious minority in Syria. The rebellion ended with the destruction of the city of Hama in 1982 by government forces.

U.S. -Iran Hostage Crisis (1979-1981)-Iranian militants seized the United States Embassy in Tehran, taking dozens of Americans hostage. This began a long crisis that nearly brought the U.S. and Iran to war and began the current long cold/proxy war between the United States and Iran.

Grand Mosque Siege in Saudi Arabia (1979)-Islamist militants siezed control of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, hoping to spark a revolt against the Saudi Royal family. Saudi troops, aided by Pakistani special forces and French advisors, eventually re-took the Mosque.

Yemeni War (1979)--A border war between Saudi-allied North Yemen and Soviet-allied South Yemen turned into a superpower confrontation as Saudi Arabia's ally, the United States, sought to end a war which quickly favored the Marxist South Yemenis. Both sides agreed to a cease-fire.

1980 Turkish coup d'état--The military took power in Turkey after months of violence between leftist and rightist militants nearly brought Turkey to the point of civil war.

First Persian Gulf War (1980-1988)-Iran vs. Iraq-also involved U.S. and Kuwait.

"The Tanker War" (1987-1988)-This is the component of the First Persian Gulf War that involved the U.S. and Kuwait. In an attempt to halt Kuwaiti aid for Iraq, as well as Iraqi oil sales and deliveries, Iran attacked oil tankers in the Gulf. The U.S. stepped in to protect the Kuwaiti ships and came engaged in combat with Iran's Navy and Revolutionary Guards. Also known by the U.S. code-name "Operation Earnest Will."


Osiraq Reactor Raid—(June 7, 1981) –Israeli war planes bomb the Osiraq nuclear reactor under construction in Iraq.

Israeli Invasion of Lebanon (1982-1984)-Also involved Syria and the PLO.

See also: U.S. Intervention in Lebanon and U.S. Conflict with Syria (1983-1984)

Israeli-Lebanese Border War (1984-2000)-Also involved Syria , the PLO and Lebanese militia's such as Hezbollah.

South Yemen Civil War (1986)--Civil War in Marxist South Yemen between different factions in the ruling Marxist government. More than 10,000 died in a week of fighting.

The First Intifada (Dec. 1987-1993)-An uprising by the Palestinians in the territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 War. This conflict concluded with the Oslo Accords, which set up a timetable for Palestinian nationhood and called for the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, with PLO Chairman Yassir Arafat as President.

Second Persian Gulf War (1990-1991) Kuwait, United States, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Britain, France, Oman, Qatar, UAE vs. Iraq

Iraqi Kurdish Revolt—(1991) –Encouraged by the sudden defeat of Saddam’s forces in Kuwait and spurred by appeals by President George H. W. Bush of the U.S., Kurds rose up against the Iraqi government  With the bulk of his elite forces having escaped from the fighting in Kuwait and southern Iraq, Saddam was able to smash the revolt, causing hundreds of thousands of Kurdish refugees to flee into neighboring Turkey and Iran to escape.

Iraqi Shiite Revolt—(1991) – Encouraged by the stunning defeat of Saddam’s forces in Kuwait and spurred by appeals by President George H. W. Bush of the U.S., the Shiites of southern Iraq rose up against the Iraqi government, only to be crushed by Saddam’s forces. Sporadic guerrilla resistance continued, with the bulk of the Shiite fighting forces seeking refuge in neighboring Shiite Iran.

The "No-Fly Zone War " (1991-2003)

Yemeni Civil War (1994)

Yemen-Eritrea Border Conflict (1996)

Intra-Iraqi Kurdish warfare --(1996) – Combat between various Kurdish militias.

1997 Turkish coup d'état--The Turkish military forced Necmettin Erbakan's Islamist-led coalition government to resign.

Yemeni Tribal Uprising (1998)

Saudi-Yemen Border Conflict (1998)

bin Laden's War (1998-Present) -Terrorist conflict between the United States and irregular forces led by Osama bin Laden. The violence has also involved Kenya, Tanzania, Sudan, Yemen and Afghanistan.

The Second Intifada (Sept. 2000-Present)-An urban guerrilla/terrorist conflict between the Palestinians and Israel. Marked by suicide bombings, recurring Israeli invasions of Palestinian cities and Palestinian guerrilla attacks on Isreaeli settlements and military targets.

Third Persian Gulf War (2003-2011)-The second major war between the United States-led coalition and the Middle Eastern nation of Iraq. Military members of the initial invasion coalition also include the United Kingdom, Poland, and Australia.

See also: American Raid Into Syria (October, 2008)-Part of the American War in Iraq, the U.S. launched a cross-border raid into Syria in an attack on an al-Qaida base.

Sa'dah Insurgency/Yemen Civil War (June, 2004-Present)-A rebellion by the Shiite Zaidiyyah sect in northern Yemen against the government of Yemen. See also: http://www.jamestown.org/terrorism/news/article.php?articleid=2368399

Saudi-Yemen War (2009)--Saudi Arabia intervened in the Sa'dah War in Yemen.

Israeli Invasion of Lebanon (2006)-also known in Israel as the Second Lebanon War.

North Lebanon Conflict (May 20, 2007- September 2, 2007)--This conflict began in May, 2007, when the Lebanese Army began a siege of the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in order to drive out a militant Islamic militia called Fatah Islam.

Gaza/Hamas-Israeli Conflict-ongoing conflict between Gaza (ruled by the Islamist group Hamas), and Israel

1st Gaza War (2008-2009)--Israel invades Hamas-ruled Gaza in an attempt to stop frequent missile attacks on Israel by Hamas. Also known as Israeli Operation Cast Lead.

2nd Gaza War (2012)-Also known as Israeli Operation Pillar of Defense.

3rd Gaza War (2014)- Also known as Israeli Operation Protective Edge.

NOTE on Gaza Wars: While the major Israeli military operations against Hamas and other Islamic forces in Gaza are defined here as distinct wars, be aware that the periods of time between each "Gaza War" also contain a lot of ongoing border violence, with rocket and missile attacks from Gaza at Israel, and frequent Israeli air strikes and other attacks back into Gaza.

Egyptian Revolution of 2011

Libyan War of 2011-Libyan rebels allied with NATO, overthew the dictatorship of Colonel Muammar Khadaffi.

Syrian Civil War (2011-Present)-Chaotic conflict that began as an uprising against the Assad regime, but has evolved into a conflict with multiple sides and multiple acts and actors of foreign intervention. Other nations, and outside groups involved in the Syrian Civil War include: al-Qaida, ISIS/Islamic State, Hezbollah, Iran, Russia, the United States (and various other Western nations), Iraq, and Israel.

Islamic State War (2014-Present)-Includes conflict and war involving ISIS/ISIL/The Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and elsewhere.

Second Libyan Civil War (2014-Present)-Chaotic conflict between various Libyan factions, as well as the Islamic State, the United States, Egypt, Qatar, and others. This confusing and complex conflict the now pits, among others, the United Nations-supported government in Tripoli, against a rival regime based in eastern Libya, which is supported by Egypt, France, the UAE, and, to a certain extent, by Russia. See also: List of Libyan Wars.

2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt--On July 15, 2016 "factions of the military" launched a coup attempt against the government of Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Casualties included 265 dead, and 1,440 wounded. The coup failed, and the Erdogan government arrested thousands of suspected coup supporters.

American Missile Strike on Syria (April 6, 2017)-In response to the Assad regime's apparent use of chemical weapons on a civilian target in the Syrian Civil War, the April 4 chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, United States President Donald Trump ordered a retaliatory strike against the Syrian air base at Al Shayrat. See also: U.S.-Syria Conflicts

Turk-Syrian Kurd Conflict (2018-Present)-In the midst of the Syrian Civil War and the related Islamic State War, Turkey launched attacks on the Syrian Kurdish forces in the area of Afrin, in northeast Syria. Turkey claims that the Kurdish group there, the Kurdish YPG (Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units) , are in alliance with the Kurdish People's Party (PKK), which is a Turkish Kurd force that has been battling the Turkish government since 1978. Turkey considers the PKK and, by extension the YPG, as terrorists. In late 2019, the United States withdrew some of the American military forces near the Turkish-Syrian border, which allowed Turkey to launch an anti-Kurdish invasion of northern Syria.

Complicating factors include the fact that the United States supports the YPG, as these Syrian Kurds have been a significant force in the war against the Islamic State (and also against the regime of Syrian President Assad). Also, Russian military forces, which are allied with Assad, are also in the general area of northern Syria.

U.S.-Iran Conflict (2019-2020)-Tensions between the United States and Iran increased following sabotage attacks on several oil tankers in and near the Persian Gulf. Then, on June 20, 2019, Iran shot down a U.S. Global Hawk unmanned drone, nearly sparking a retaliatory strike by the United States.

Fears of an all-out war between the United States and Iran became very real with the events of late December, 2019 and January, 2020, following attacks by Iraqi Shiite militias (acting as proxies for Iran), attacked an American base near Kirkuk, killing one American and wounding several others. The U.S. launched counter-strikes at several of the militia's bases, which led to an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad by the Shiite militia forces. On January 2, 2020, the United States killed the Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, who, as leader of Iran's Quds Force, was the coordinator of the attacks on the United States and her allies. Iran promised revenge as the U.S. reinforced American military forces in the Middle East. Iran backed their threats of revenge up with missile strikes at two American bases in Iraq. U.S. forces suffered no fatalities, but 109 U.S. troops suffered various types of brain trauma from the concussive blasts.

See also: Drone Shootdown Nearly Sparks Iranian-American War.

Israeli-Iranian Conflict in Syria and Iraq (2019-2020)-Israel and Iran have engaged in a long-distance proxy and cold war conflict for many years, but in late 2019, the conflict began to grow significantly, as Israel openly launched multiple air and cruise missile strikes on Iranian targets in both Syria and Iraq. Iranian military interventions in both Syria and Iraq in their local civil wars and their conflict with the Islamic State led to growing Iranian troop presence in both countries. Israel fears growing Iranian influence and presence in Syria and Lebanon (which is dominated by the Iranian-allied Hezbollah organization. While Israel was known (though they rarely admitted to it) to launch occasional air and missile strikes on Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria throughout the long Syrian Civil War (2011-Present), in 2019, the scope and intensity of those strikes grew. Also in 2019, Israel was more open and public in providing details on those strikes.


Lebanon Civil Strife (2020)-Following the massive explosion in the port area of Beirut in August, 2020, Lebanese citizens increasingly blamed the ruling political class for this disaster. Protests broke out, including a takeover of the foreign ministry building. The situation puts the Lebanese government in a difficult position as it struggles to deal with this crisis. Latest information on Lebanon's conflicts.

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