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Biden 'decides' reply to deadly attack in Jordan

Increasing dissatisfaction seen against Washington as tensions soar in Mideast

By CHEN YINGQUN | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-02-01 09:52

US President Joe Biden looks on as he speaks to the media, before departing the White House for Florida, in Washington, US, Jan 30, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

The United States said on Tuesday it is likely to take multiple actions in retaliation to the drone strike that killed three of its soldiers in Jordan, and a day later Iran warned of decisive response to any type of attack.

US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he had decided how to respond to the drone strike in Jordan, which is the first fatal attack on US forces in the region since the outbreak of the new round of Palestine-Israel conflict in October.

Biden said he held Iran responsible "in the sense that they're supplying the weapons to the people who did it", but he insisted that he didn't want a wider war in the Middle East, as he headed for campaign fundraisers in Florida. He was facing growing pressure to punish Iran in a US election year.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby added on Tuesday: "It's very possible that what you'll see is a tiered approach here, not just a single action but potentially multiple actions."

The White House announced that the president is scheduled to be present at the solemn repatriation ceremony for the remains of the three US soldiers at a Delaware air base on Friday.

One day after Biden's remarks, Iran's envoy to the United Nations Amir Saeid Iravani said on Wednesday that Teheran would react firmly to any assaults on its land, its interests, or on Iranians abroad, as reported by state media on Wednesday.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani on Monday rejected the country's involvement in the drone attack, saying the accusation is "baseless and provocative". He also said Iran did not welcome the expansion of the conflict in the region.

Klaus W. Larres, a Richard M Krasno Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said there is immense domestic pressure on Biden to go after Iran. If the US can ascertain that Iran was behind the drone attack in Jordan, it will take some direct action against Iran, which may well escalate tension overall in the region. Otherwise, the US response will not be directed at Iran but at other targets, which will be less escalating.

"But this is a dangerous situation," he said.

Frequent strikes

Tensions in the Middle East region have soared since the outbreak of the Palestine-Israel conflict, with US forces in Iraq and Syria having been attacked more than 160 times.

The United States and the United Kingdom have also initiated a series of airstrikes targeting Yemen's Houthi group, which has carried out repeated attacks on shipping in the Red Sea, claiming its support for Palestine.

Israel's military action in Gaza started in October has now left swathes of Gaza in ruins and killed more than 26,900 people, according to figures from Gaza.

Li Haidong, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, said the situation in the Middle East is escalating as Middle Eastern countries are increasingly showing dissatisfaction and even hostility toward the US for its support to Israel amid the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"After the drone attack in Jordan, it is foreseeable that the US government will temporarily take some retaliatory actions on targets it deems responsible for the attack, as a way to address domestic criticism that it has been too lenient in its approach to Middle Eastern affairs," he said.

Li said the overall situation in the Middle East is becoming increasingly complex, and the US hopes for a de-escalation rather than an escalation of tensions in the region. However, the complexity of reality means that, due to concerns about domestic public opinion and doubts from allies about its reliability, the US finds itself compelled to take certain technical military actions that are actually contributing to the escalation of regional conflicts.

However, the US government is well aware that becoming involved in a larger-scale armed conflict in the region would be more detrimental than beneficial for the US. Nevertheless, the idea of a regional conflict remains unthinkable, he said.

Agencies contributed to this story.

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