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U.S. Policy on Gaza War Causing the Conflict To Expand Regionally

Despite the Biden Administrations protestations of trying to contain it, its refusal to demand an end to the Israeli genocide campaign in Gaza is causing the conflict to expand regionally. The Biden Administration dismisses statements by groups calling themselves part of the “Axis of Resistance” to the effect that they would stop their attacks if Israel ended its military campaign in Gaza, preferring instead to attribute their behavior to Iran. Nonetheless, had the U.S. an evenhanded policy towards Southwest Asia, conditions would be very different from what they are now.

The latest developments in the regional escalation include the following:

• The Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed another attack using drones on the Israeli military in the Golan Heights, yesterday. In a Sunday statement, reported Al Mayadeen, “the resistance explained the targeting is a continued part of resistance in support of the Palestinian people in Gaza and in response to the massacres committed by the Israeli occupation.”

• An Israeli airstrike hit two vehicles near a Lebanese army checkpoint in south Lebanon on Sunday, Jan. 21, killing a Hezbollah member and wounding several other people, including civilians, AP reported, citing Lebanese state media and health officials.

• On Jan. 20, another strike near the Lebanese port city of Tyre killed two people in a car—one of them a Hezbollah commander—and two people in a nearby orchard, AP reports further. The commander, Ali Hudruj, was buried Jan. 21 in south Lebanon. The other occupant of the car, tech sector businessman Mohammad Baqir Diab, was identified as a civilian and was buried in Beirut also on Sunday.

Politico reported yesterday that intelligence agencies in the U.S. and other Western countries believe that the Houthis are seeking more weapons from Tehran, raising concerns that the militant group is determined to continue attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and threatening a wider conflict in the Middle East. The intelligence also indicated that the group may try to attack Western forces in the region. Yet it is not clear if the recent strikes by the U.S. in Yemen have shifted the Houthis’ planning for those types of attacks.

Stopping future weapons transfers from Iran is critical for the administration as it continues to carry out strikes against the group in Yemen to degrade its ability to launch further attacks on vessels navigating the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, the Politico report continues. But intercepting Iranian weapons as they’re being shipped to Yemen is exceedingly difficult. Commando operations like the one this month are complex, involving special operators in combat boats, snipers, drones and helicopters for overwatch, as well as Navy SEALs, said a Pentagon official.

• The Syrian Observatory posted two reports yesterday on U.S. military reinforcements arriving at U.S. bases in western Syria. According to the first report, a U.S. cargo plane carrying troops and equipment landed in Kharab Al-Jeir in northeast Hasakah. This was followed by another report that three U.S. helicopters landed at the U.S. base in the Conoco oil field in eastern Deir Ezzor countryside. “This comes in light of the ongoing reinforcements for U.S. bases in Syria, in light of repeated attacks by Iran-backed militias under the name of the ‘Islamic Resistance’ in Iraq,” the Observatory notes.