Seeking Middle East "quiet", Biden fuels regional carnage

After Iran retaliates for an Israeli strike, the Biden administration shows little interest in de-escalating what it admits to be a historically dangerous moment.

At a gathering sponsored by the neoconservative magazine The Atlantic on Sept. 29th, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan took the opportunity to brag about his administration’s self-perceived success in a longtime region of conflict.

“The Middle East region is quieter today than it has been in two decades,” Sullivan declared, rattling off a list that included a then-lull in attacks against US forces stationed in Iraq and Syria.

Eight days later, Hamas’ guerilla operation against Israel’s multi-decade besiegement and occupation shattered that “quiet.” And four months to the day after Sullivan’s boastful remarks, Secretary of State Antony Blinken was forced to offer a sharply different assessment.

“This is an incredibly volatile time in the Middle East,” Blinken said on Jan. 29th. “I would argue that we have not seen a situation as dangerous as the one we're facing now across the region since at least 1973, and arguably even before that.”

If Sullivan is still clamoring for acknowledgment, his administration can undoubtedly take credit for the Middle East’s escalating dangers. This weekend’s Iranian attack on Israel -- a retaliation for a recent Israeli strike on an Iranian diplomatic compound in Damascus that killed seven people, including a senior IRGC commander -- is the direct result of the Biden administration’s “ironclad commitment” to Israel’s mass murder campaign in Gaza and broader US-Israeli hegemony.

Although the White House claimed that Israel acted alone in bombing Damascus, that is unlikely. Israeli strikes on Syria are regularly coordinated with the US military. As the Wall Street Journal reported in June 2022, “many of Israel’s missions for several years have been reviewed in advance for approval by senior officials at U.S. Central Command and at the Pentagon.” The six Israeli missiles that struck the consulate were delivered via a US-supplied F-35 military jets.

And even if Israel’s unprecedented bombing of an Iranian consulate – considered sovereign Iranian territory under international law – was undertaken without US knowledge, the Biden administration offered its tacit endorsement by refusing to condemn it. At the United Nations Security Council, a measure condemning Israel’s strike failed after it drew opposition from the US, Britain, and France. (That this trifecta supported Israel’s latest aggression in Damascus was highly appropriate: these are the same three countries that bombed Syria over the April 2018 chemical weapons attack in Douma, which, as OPCW leaks have demonstrated, was in fact a pro-war deception staged by insurgents. They have subsequently stonewalled all attempts at accountability for the OPCW cover-up, an international scandal that remains off-limits to Western audiences.)

According to Iran’s UN mission, Tehran might not have retaliated had the UN Security Council condemned Israel’s Damascus strike, which, the Iranians claimed, could have “obviated” their “imperative to punish the rogue regime.” But under Washington’s “rules-based international order,” nothing can interrupt the US imperative to protect Israeli aggression.

Despite White House attempts to portray President Biden as “frustrated” with Benjamin Netanyahu, US support for his genocidal Gaza campaign remains unimpeded. Biden’s commitment is so profound that he has no problem breaking his own pledges, risking his prospects in the 2024 election, and making himself look feckless.

As Israeli forces flattened entire Gaza neighborhoods with 2,000-pound bombs in early November, White House officials promised that they would be sending “smaller munitions to Israel... to mitigate the risk to civilians,” New York Times reported. Yet late last month, US officials confirmed to the Washington Post that they are still quietly expediting the same 2,000-pound bombs that “have been linked to previous mass-casualty events throughout Israel’s military campaign.” On the same day that Israel murdered seven employees of the aid group World Central Kitchen in repeated strikes on their vehicles, the US authorized yet more bomb shipments, a move that “demonstrates the administration’s determination to continue its flow of lethal weaponry to Israel,” the Post noted.

Even when Biden has attempted to declare a “red line” for Israel, he has immediately walked it back. In an interview with MSNBC last month, Biden said that an Israeli invasion of Rafah would be a “red line.” He then claimed to have another “red line”: “You cannot have 30,000 more Palestinians dead.” But less than three weeks later, Israeli and US officials began holding discussions “focused not on how to stop” an invasion of Rafah, but on “trying to find ways to work with Israel on its Rafah strategy, for lack of better options,” the Wall Street Journal reported. In other words, Biden was not only abandoning his “red line” but helping Israel cross it. And given that his White House has previously touted its efforts to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza, only to have more than 30,000 Palestinians killed to date, Biden plausibly may well drop his other “red line” of “30,000 more” deaths as well. At this rate, perhaps he will settle for another 29,999.

Although Biden currently occupies the White House, it is undeniable that his policy is firmly bipartisan. Biden’s predecessor and 2024 rival, Donald Trump, deserves ample credit for the current dangers. Among several contributions, Trump assassinated IRGC leader Qasem Soleimani in Iraq based on fabricated intelligence that he was plotting attacks on US forces, when, in reality, Soleimani was attempting to broker peace between Iran and Saudi Arabia, according to Iraq’s Prime Minister. Trump also imposed crippling sanctions on Iran and Syria, all while pursuing the “Abraham Accords” that rewarded Gulf regimes for normalizing with Israel and sidelining Palestinian rights.

In the aftermath of Iran’s retaliation, the White House leaked to the media that it would oppose any Israeli counterattack. “You got a win. Take the win,” Biden is said to have told Netanyahu, according to Axios. Yet in launching its drones and ballistic missiles, Iran gave Israel and the US ample time to respond to the incoming fire, a likely signal that Tehran was hoping to avoid the escalation that Netanyahu was clearly hoping to provoke when he bombed Damascus.

A wider Middle East war, therefore, continues to rely on the relative restraint of Iran and its allies, notwithstanding Israel and its US patron’s best efforts to escalate the dangers. On that front, the White House is not wasting an opportunity. On Sunday, White House spokesperson John Kirby invoked the Iran retaliation to urge Congress to approve a Republican-stalled measure authorizing $61 billion for the Ukraine proxy war and $14 billion for Israel “as soon as possible.”

“We didn't need any reminders in terms of what's going on in Ukraine,” Kirby said. “But last night certainly underscores significantly the threat that Israel faces in a very, very tough neighborhood.”

Kirby and his White House colleagues are well aware that Israel, alongside the US, threatens everyone else in the neighborhood. As US officials acknowledged to the New York Times in November, Israel’s “forceful response” to Oct. 7th was guided by the need to protect “the Israeli military’s aura of power,” which “was shaken by the Oct. 7 attack.”

Therefore, to protect Israel’s “aura of power”, the White House remains devoted to fueling what it admits to be the Middle East’s most dangerous moment in decades. Under US leadership, the violence will continue to escalate until the unruly natives are put back in their place, and subservience – or “quiet” – has been restored in the rubble of Gaza, Damascus, and if necessary, perhaps even Tehran.

Photo © AFP via Getty Images.

Source: Aaron Mate.

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