As tensions are soaring in the Middle East due to the brutal Israeli assault on Gaza, US officials are warning that President Biden’s decisions could lead to a major regional war.
US officials told HuffPost that if Israel provokes a full-blown war in southern Lebanon, the consequences could be catastrophic. “Every scenario shows this would escalate into something terrible… whether in terms of counterterrorism or war with Iran,” one official said.
The official said many in the Biden administration feared unconditional US support for Israel could embolden Israeli officials to expand operations into Lebanon. Last week, Israel significantly escalated the situation by launching a drone strike in Beirut that killed a senior Hamas official who was involved in hostage negotiations.
“I’ve been trying to keep an avalanche from falling on Lebanon and so have a lot of people,” the US official said. “The problem is no one can rein in Biden, and if Biden has a policy, he’s the commander-in-chief ― we have to carry it out. That’s what it comes down to, very, very, very, unfortunately.”
Another US official said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer are “hell-bent on seizing this moment to expand the war into southern Lebanon and deliver some mythical imagined death blow to Hezbollah.”
The US has sent Biden’s energy envoy, Amos Hochstein, who was born in Israel, to try to reach a diplomatic solution between Israel and Hezbollah, but no progress has been made.
US officials also told POLITICO that the administration is drawing up plans to respond to a “protracted regional conflict.” Lebanon is just one area where Israel’s assault on Gaza is spilling out into the region, as the US and its allies are threatening to strike the Houthis in Yemen over their attacks on Israel-linked commercial shipping in the Red Sea, and the US is already in a low-level conflict with Shia militias in Iraq and Syria that could explode.
Instead of pressuring Israel to end its brutal assault on Gaza and ease tensions with Hezbollah, President Biden is opting for regional escalation as he continues to provide Israel with full-throated military and political support. The officials speaking to HuffPost reaffirmed that the Biden administration is not considering placing any conditions on military aid to Israel.