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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Biden Faces Tough Dilemma: Support Israel Against Iran Attack or Prevent Wider War?

Biden Faces Tough Dilemma: Support Israel Against Iran Attack or Prevent Wider War?

Iran's attack on Israel presents US President Joe Biden with a challenging dilemma: supporting an ally while avoiding a wider war.
Tensions between Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Israel's conflict in Gaza were momentarily eased when Biden pledged "ironclad" support, including intercepting Iranian drones.

However, the White House refused to back an Israeli counterattack and cautioned against escalation that could lead to a regional conflict.

The concern for Biden, who is running for reelection against Donald Trump, is what if Netanyahu disregards these warnings and instigates further conflict?

According to Colin Clarke, Director of Research at the Soufan Group, Biden is wary of Netanyahu's intentions and could face significant consequences if Israel ignores US warnings.

Netanyahu is trying to expand the conflict in the Middle East beyond Gaza to distract from the poor progress of the war there.

Biden has been working to prevent a larger regional war since Hamas's attack on October 7 and Israel's offensive in Gaza.

However, Biden's efforts to use the US as Israel's main military supplier as leverage have been unsuccessful due to tense relations with Netanyahu.

Biden has criticized the high death toll in Palestinian territory and even suggested limiting military aid, but to no avail.

Iran's attack has led Biden to show overt support for Israel while also trying to prevent the crisis from escalating further.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby stated that Netanyahu is aware that Biden does not want a "wider war." On Saturday night, President Biden warned Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu about the potential dangers of escalating tensions with Iran following Israel's strike in Syria that killed a key Iranian general.

The US hoped that Israel would realize the success of its operation in the light of day.

However, both Israel and Iran appeared to have achieved their goals with minimal damage.

James Ryan, Executive Director of the Middle East Research and Information Project, expressed concern about a "dangerous spiral" and expected Biden to try to restrain Israeli responses, but Netanyahu has shown a willingness to defy any limits imposed by the US.

The text discusses the limited options President Biden has in restraining Israel following the recent tensions in Gaza and the Iran nuclear site attack.

Biden's actions are likely to be verbal, with private tough language and public threats.

However, cutting off weapons to Israel is considered an empty threat, especially during an election year.

Domestic political pressure from both Republicans and young left-wing voters on Biden's stance on Israel adds to the challenge.

Netanyahu, facing his own political and legal issues, can use the Iran attacks to divert attention from the Gaza conflict and mend relations with Washington.

Netanyahu is hoping for a Trump victory in November to have more freedom to act in the region regarding Iran, according to Clarke.

An alternative scenario is that Netanyahu may comply with American pressures on Iran but demand more autonomy in Gaza in return, as suggested by Salem, the President and CEO of the Middle East Institute.

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