Considering the latest developments in the Middle East, the Biden administration’s policies towards the region can very well escalate the Israel-Hamas conflict to dangerous levels.
On Friday, October 20, 2023, a bipartisan delegation of ten US senators, including Ben Cardin, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, arrived in Saudi Arabia to continue efforts to broker a deal between Tel Aviv and Riyadh.
After the meeting, Biden once again emphasized that the US efforts to normalize relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia will continue. “This will take time. But the direction of moving towards normalization for the Arab countries as well as Israel is logical and should be followed,” he said.
But the sad fact that Biden seems to be ignorant of is that normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel at the cost of nuclearizing former and providing it with security guarantees will not reduce tensions in the Middle East, nor will it have any significant long-term benefits for the United States.
Israel’s recent war with Hamas should be a wake-up call for Washington to make a fundamental review of its Middle East policies, rather than following the previous failed policies with more intensity.
In addition, the Biden government should note that the United States is no longer able to continue and increase its presence in the Middle East, let alone engage in an all-out war in this region. But the bad news is that this is in fact happening. The conflict between Israel and Hamas is rapidly escalating across the region, threatening to draw the United States directly into the conflict.
The recent barrage of ballistic missiles and drones fired at Israel by Yemen’s Houthi movement — along with the group’s statement that such attacks will continue — and ongoing attacks on US positions in the region indicate that the conflict is rapidly expanding. Moreover, fear among the American public that the country will be dragged into another war in the Middle East is growing rapidly: According to a recent poll, 84 percent of respondents were either “very” or “somewhat” worried that the United States might be drawn into a war.
Even off the battlefield, violence is escalating across the region. American forces in the Middle East have been attacked at least 23 times in Iraq and Syria by pro-Palestinian groups.
Israel and Hezbollah also continue to clash, with approximately 50 Hezbollah fighters killed since October 7. A bigger war in the Middle East would therefore lead to dramatic new levels of US commitment and entanglement in the region, at a time when the Middle East is no longer the primary representative of US interests.
The US just can’t handle a bigger war in the region
This threat of a major war in the Middle East comes as the United States is deeply involved in helping Ukraine against Russia and trying to contain China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific. The country also has a national debt of more than $33 trillion and runs a budget deficit of more than $1 trillion each year. Opening up a new front in the Middle East while trying to pursue stated interests in Europe and the Indo-Pacific will surely carry the risk of dragging the US towards an economic crisis.
That is all why the Biden administration should act now and change course in its policies regarding the developments in the Middle East. The clock, however, is ticking fast.