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Blinken trip to the Middle East leads to nowhere, as expected

China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-10 08:18

A handout picture released by Iraq's Prime Minister's Media Office on Nov 5, 2023 shows Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani (R) meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Baghdad. [Photo/VCG]

United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken ended his four-day trip to the Middle East on Monday and returned with, what all parties called, "empty hands".

His last stop on Monday was Turkiye where he received a cold shoulder. Not only were there no senior officials to welcome him at the airport, even Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan "avoided "meeting him.

The cold shoulder from Erdogan epitomized the reception Blinken received across the region. When Blinken arrived in Israel, the US' staunch ally in the Middle East, he showed "absolute support" for Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and hoped Netanyahu would agree to his "humanitarian temporary cease-fire" plan to allow humanitarian supplies to enter Gaza, but Netanyahu rejected the plan.

Blinken's trip comes in the backdrop of unprecedented discontent with the US around the world. As Israel is targeting Gaza and the whole of Palestine directly, the ground offensive it has launched is causing heavy civilian casualties in Gaza, giving rise to mounting discontent against the US and Israel around the Arab world, while also causing the US' allies in the West and around the world to distance themselves from it.

Under mounting pressure from right-wing Jewish lobbyists and Republicans, the divisions within the Democratic Party and unfavorable polling in several "battleground states" with high concentration of immigrants from Middle East countries, the Joe Biden administration was forced to send Blinken on a hasty trip to the Middle East. There was a paradox though. The mission was not only meant to show the US' "unreserved support "to Israel, but also to try and appease growing discontent among Middle East countries.

According to veteran US diplomats, Blinken received a cold shoulder even in pro-US countries because while the US tried to show off its dominant influence over Israel, it also showed that it either does not have or does not intend to use this influence to meet the demands of local non-Jewish nations in the region.

As Blinken wrapped up his awkward trip to the Middle East, several countries recalled their ambassadors to Israel. As the casualties inflicted by the Israeli offensive in Gaza increase, international discontent with Israel will continue to rise, and the spillover effects will unavoidably implicate the US. All this shows that such paradoxical missions of the US will lead to nowhere.


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