While the Gaza war continues, Iran avoids direct involvement, but continues blaming the United States, as its proxy forces launch attacks against US bases in the region.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken made it clear on a visit to Iraq during a regional tour, that threats from Iran on US assets in the region will be countered, with the backing of the Iraqi government.
Iran-backed Hamas invaded Israel killing 1,400 mostly civilians on October 7, and took at least 241 more hostages into the Gaza Strip.
While the US was quick to voice its support for Israel, backing its right to defend itself and offering military support, Iranian proxies have not only stepped up their attacks on Israel’s borders, but the US has also come under fire in the region.
Over 38 attacks have taken place against US facilities, seeing at least 46 personnel injured, in Syria and Iraq. The US has responded only once, leaving the Biden administration open to accusations of weakness, once again.
Two US fighter jets struck weapons and ammunition facilities used by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and its militia groups in Syria, the Pentagon warning the US will take additional measures if attacks by Iran's proxies continue.
Blinken sent a message to “anyone who might seek to take advantage of the conflict in Gaza to threaten our personnel here or anywhere else in the region: Don’t do it.”
Unabashed, he spoke directly to Tehran. “I made it very clear that the attacks, the threats coming from the militia that are aligned with Iran, are totally unacceptable and we will take every necessary step to protect our people.
“We’re not looking for conflict with Iran – we’ve made that very clear – but we’ll do what’s necessary to protect our personnel, be they military or civilian,” he said, claiming Iraq’s premier, Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani, was supportive.
However, following a meeting between al-Sudani and Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Al Khamenei in Tehran, the message looked somewhat more complex.
Khamenei, who has also met in recent days with Hamas’ political leader in exile, Ismail Haniyeh, met with the Iraqi premier, also a Shia muslim, in a bid to hedge support.
“As an important country in the region, Iraq can play a major role in putting political pressure on the US and the occupying regime to stop the massacre of people in Gaza and also in starting a new approach in the Arab and Muslim world,” he wrote on X, as the regime continues to draw the US into the fire.
In no uncertain terms, the regime is doing its utmost to blame the US as the Gaza war offers hope to finally bait the bear. "The longer the current war goes on, the evidence showing the direct role of the US in directing the crimes of the Zionist regime in Gaza becomes more pronounced,” he said on Monday.
Speaking on CNN, former national security advisor to ex-President Donald Trump, John Bolton, criticized Biden for calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, supporting Israel’s argument that it will only allow the group, proscribed by countries including the US and UK, to regroup.
“The Biden admin is sliding away from its support of Israel. Nobody has taken into account how Hamas and its puppet masters in Tehran are manipulating public opinion in the US and elsewhere,” he said.
He said that not only is one of America’s closest allies under multiple attacks and threats of attacks by what he calls “a coalition of some of America’s greatest enemies”, he said the conflict is “extraordinarily serious”.
“This isn't about the Gaza Strip, it’s about the survival of Israel and threats to the United States,” he said. While the fears of conflict escalating beyond Israel and Gaza are at the top of the global agenda, Bolton said “the conflict has already spread”, blaming Iran for its being at the root of the escalation.
“There is no doubt here that Iran has called the shots from the beginning. We don’t know what their full strategy is but the center of this conflict is with the mullahs in Tehran,” he said. Attacks on Israel have come from Iran-backed proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq.
Slamming the lack of action by the Biden administration in the face of mounting aggression, he said Biden’s deterrence tactics had failed as attacks continue.
“If Iranian surrogate groups kill Americans, the Iranians need to pay a price for it. They don’t take our restraint as a good will gesture, they take it as a weakness,” Bolton said.