Marco Vicenzino – Global Strategy Advisor: “U.S. AT WAR IN MIDDLE EAST? Biden’s strategic drift in region is destabilizing global security“

It’s beyond question that the U.S. has been engaged in a low-intensity regional conflict in the Middle East for several years, which seriously escalated after Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7th, 2023. Furthermore, President Biden’s diplomatic outreach to Iran, a cornerstone of his foreign policy, has failed to achieve any concrete long-term results. 

31 ian. 2024, 19:00
Marco Vicenzino – Global Strategy Advisor: “U.S. AT WAR IN MIDDLE EAST? Biden’s strategic drift in region is destabilizing global security“

U.S. AT WAR IN MIDDLE EAST?

*Biden’s strategic drift in region is destabilizing global security

*U.S. needs course correction

*Killing of three U.S. soldiers in Jordan may prove defining moment in unfolding conflict

It’s beyond question that the U.S. has been engaged in a low-intensity regional conflict in the Middle East for several years, which seriously escalated after Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7th, 2023. Furthermore, President Biden’s diplomatic outreach to Iran, a cornerstone of his foreign policy, has failed to achieve any concrete long-term results.

The shadow war between the U.S. and partners and Iran’s axis-of-resistance has been marked by a dangerous game of brinksmanship and military exchanges which are now shifting toward a vicious downward cycle.  The situation in the Middle East is so volatile that a full-scale regional war can break out at any given moment. The global repercussions would be staggering. No one would escape the impact.

The killing of three U.S. soldiers in a drone attack on a U.S. base in Jordan could prove to be a defining moment in this unfolding conflict. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by Islamic Resistance in Iraq, a term used to describe a loose coalition of Iranian-backed militias that oppose American support for Israel in the war in Gaza and broader U.S. influence and presence in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.

In a transformational election year, U.S. President Joe Biden is under intense pressure to act forcefully and go beyond his standard sporadic armed pinpricks.  In a dire warning for Biden’s 2024 presidential campaign, a recent Gallup poll shows his approval is the lowest for a third-year president since Jimmy Carter, who served only one term.

Biden is likely to respond with a series of actions, including numerous strikes on a far wider range of targets and cyber attacks and covert operations over an extended period of time. Despite calls for direct strikes on Iran, this is unlikely to occur at the moment  but remains an option if deemed necessary.

The bottom line is that President Biden’s reactive military stance in the Middle East until now has further destabilized an already dangerously unstable region.

His reluctance to take firmer proportional action and failure to create a more determined level of U.S. deterrence in the Middle East, particularly since October 7th, have resulted in serious adverse consequences for regional security, and beyond.

Firstly, Biden’s hesitant military posture has contributed to the considerable loss of U.S. credibility and leverage in the Middle East resulting in a far more fragile status quo.

Biden’s aggressive regional shuttle diplomacy, spearheaded by U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, will not yield dividends without firmer defense measures. Ultimately, Biden’s weakness on defense has undermined his diplomacy. In the Middle East, Biden is largely viewed by friends and foes as little carrot and no stick.

Furthermore, Biden’s wavering use of force has created a dangerous security void in the region which has emboldened Iran and its axis-of-resistance to engage in more daring and provocative hostilities. Since October 7th, 2023, they have engaged in more than 100 attacks on U..S. troops in Iraq and Syria.

In addition, Biden’s regional reluctance is sending the wrong message to rogue actors globally, particularly those residing in important strategic locations impacting international trade and security.  The long-term consequences will be staggering without a serious change of course.

The Houthis in Yemen and other like-minded ‘resistance’ movements in the region continue to exploit Biden’s reticence to their advantage.  Despite Biden’s efforts at collective maritime security measures in the Red Sea against Houthi attacks, his efforts remain reactive and largely perceived as ‘too little, too late’.

The situation grows even more complicated as these entities currently spearheading the upending of the Middle East – such as Hamas in Palestine, the Houthis in Yemen and Islamic Resistance  in Iraq – technically operate independently as non-state actors. Yet they form part of the Axis of Resistance, an informal loose coalition of anti-Western, anti-Israel organizations supported by Iran.

Overall, the U.S. needs to go beyond Biden’s strategic drift, start seizing the initiative and increasingly shape events in the region with a focus on its core interests. Reversing course will require a bolder longer-term strategy accompanied by firmer action that sends a clear message to friends and foes alike.

However, expectations need to be kept in check. U.S. foreign policy cannot make or break the Middle East, nor should it try. The history of recent decades provides ample lessons. Ultimately, forces and dynamics from within the region will determine its future.  However, external forces will inevitably play a role in shaping this course and the U.S. needs to play its hand more effectively.

Until then, the Biden administration will continue to linger behind-the-curve and remain vulnerable to the multitude of risks threatening regional stability and global security.