April 19, 2024

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After the Hamas attack, the US faces a mystical “new Middle East”.

After the Hamas attack, the US faces a mystical “new Middle East”.

Full solidarity with Israel, support for its defense, warning to other armed actors in the region: The Biden administration responded quickly and forcefully to the multi-pronged terrorist attack by Hamas on October 7. The intensity of events mobilized the National Security Council since dawn. Foreign Secretary Anthony Blinken has stepped up contacts with Palestinian officials and Middle Eastern leaders, trying in vain to get clear condemnations. On Sunday, the diplomatic chief explained on CNN that the administration was verifying information about possible American deaths and nationals abducted by Hamas.

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It’s the same for the White House as it is for Israeli political parties: Criticism in recent months against the Netanyahu government and its liberal plans for judicial reform has been sidelined given the scale of the shock. Likewise, the question of the failure of the intelligence and military establishment in the Gaza Strip is not on the agenda. It is time for a united front.

After speaking with the Israeli prime minister, Joe Biden delivered a speech to renew the classic terms of American engagement with the Jewish state, a passage the president supported when its security was at stake. “Let me be as clear as possible: This is not the time for any party hostile to Israel to take advantage of these attacks. » The warning was aimed primarily at Shiite Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon, which could be prompted to open a front in the north if the Israeli army makes a ground incursion into Gaza.

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Washington’s top priority is to avoid a regional escalation of the conflict. Iran is being watched closely. A cautious precision from a senior US official on Saturday : “It’s too early to tell if the Iranian government is involved.” In the preparation and execution of the attack. The rehabilitation of the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), a failure due to Tehran and Washington, has to be content with modest objectives here too: preventing the escalation of this hostile regime, implementing hostages like Hamas, beyond the bilateral exchange of prisoners. On September 18.

A foreign policy imbued with iron realism

In Congress, as in the White House, proposals for emergency security assistance to Israel have been stepped up. Behind this expressed unity, the administration faces the limits of its resolve: a stagnant House of Representatives without a speaker, facing the prospect of a government shutdown in mid-November without a budget deal; Absence of US ambassador to Israel, acting in charge; More complicated, if not tense, relations with two key regional players, Egypt – the traditional mediator with Palestinian armed groups – and Turkey.

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