US President Joe Biden

US Could Be Drawn Into War With Iran, Biden Warns

Thursday, 04/18/2024

The United States could get into war with Iran if Tehran launches a major attack on Israel, Joe Biden has said, amid a cacophony of threats and counter-threats from officials in Tehran and Jerusalem.

In an op-ed for Wall Street Journal Wednesday, President Biden called on the US Congress to pass military aid for Israel to ensure that it’s “fully stocked and ready” to defend herself.

“If Iran succeeds in significantly escalating its assault on Israel, the US could be drawn in,” Biden warned. “Israel is our strongest partner in the Middle East; it’s unthinkable that we would stand by if its defenses were weakened and Iran was able to carry out the destruction it intended this weekend.”

President Biden has been trying hard since October 7 to avert a full-scale war in the Middle East, exhausting overt and covert diplomatic channels to restrain Israel and Iran. His job has become much more difficult since April 13, when the Iranian regime launched more than 300 drones and missiles towards Israel in response to the bombing of one of its buildings in the Damascus embassy, which killed the IRGC’s top commander in Syria and his deputy.

In the past few days, officials in both Israel and Iran have hardened their rhetoric, uttering threats that seem to get more severe by the day.

On Wednesday, Israel’s finance minister Bezalel Smotrich said that Israel’s response to Iran’s attack should inflict a “disproportionate toll” and “rock Tehran” so that the leaders of the country “regret the moment they even thought about firing”.

Smotrich is the leader of the far-right Religious Zionism party, He is not a member of the war cabinet, but wields considerable power because a ‘coalition deal’ means he is technically also a minister in Israel’s defense ministry. Speaking to Israel’s Army Radio (GLZ), he called for an Israeli retaliation that would make the Iranian regime “realize they shouldn’t mess with” Israel. “This is the language spoken in the Middle East,” he said.

In Tehran, President Ebrahim Raisi proved that this was indeed the language spoken in the Middle East. Even the “tiniest” Israeli attack on Iran, he said at a military parade, would bring “a severe and harsh response.” The IRGC commander in charge of missiles and drones, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, seconded the president. Asked by a reporter if they would strike Israel again if they retaliate against Iran's attack, he said “one-hundred percent.”

But this wasn’t the end. There were more threats to come from Israel.

Former director of intelligence at Mossad, Zohar Palti, suggested in an interview that targeting nuclear facilities can be an option. “Everything is on the table right now,” he told the British broadcaster Sky News. Asked whether that included targeting nuclear facilities, he said, “including everything.”

Palti is not an Israeli official. But Smotrich is. So are Raisi and Hajizadeh and many more voices on both sides calling for severe measures to establish ‘deterrence.’

The Biden administration –and other world leaders to a lesser extent– will have a difficult task de-escalating a situation that seems to be getting more tense by the day.

The US and the EU have announced their intention to impose more sanctions related to Iran, targeting those individuals and entities that help Tehran's destabilizing activities. However, that the effective way to exert pressure is to enforce the oil export sanctions already in place that the Biden administration has not pursued vigorously.

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