Washington is discussing scenarios that could potentially draw the US into a war in the Middle East, officials told the outlet
The White House is worried that the conflict in Gaza could expand to other parts of the Middle East and is drawing up plans for a possible US response if that happens, Politico has reported, citing informed officials.
Internal discussions are underway in the administration of US President Joe Biden about scenarios that could see Washington drawn into a major war in the region, the outlet said in an article on Thursday.
The potential for a wider conflict in the Middle East is growing, said sources including a senior Biden administration official.
The events of the past few days “have convinced some in the administration that the war in Gaza has officially escalated far beyond the strip’s borders,” Politico wrote.
These events included a US drone strike in Baghdad that killed Iraqi militia leader Mushtaq Taleb al-Saidi, the killing of Hamas deputy chief Saleh al-Arouri in an Israeli UAV attack in the Lebanese capital Beirut, and twin explosions in Iran that claimed 84 lives and wounded almost 300 people.
According to the officials, the US military is drafting plans to strike back at Houthi fighters, who have been targeting commercial ships off Yemen’s coast in response to the attacks on Gaza by Israel. “From our perspective, the most worrying thing is that the Houthis might sink a ship. Then what happens?” one of the sources said.
The intelligence community is trying to find ways of anticipating and resisting the attacks against US forces in Iraq and Syria by local militias. It’s also working to determine whether the Houthis would carry out similar strikes, the report read.
Such contingency planning is routine amid heightened tension in the Middle East, officials said. But this activity has intensified this week on orders from the top echelons of the administration “over fears that the violence in the region will only continue to grow and that Washington will eventually have to intervene,” they explained.
Politico stressed that rising tensions in the Middle East “are perilous not just for regional security, but for Biden’s re-election chances.” The president, who planned to focus his campaign on domestic issues, instead “ends his first term as the West’s champion for the defense of Ukraine and key enabler of Israel’s retaliation against Hamas,” it said.
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