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Despite Pledge to Avoid Broad Conflict, Biden Is Pushing War Across Middle East

The administration is reportedly drafting plans to bomb Yemen in retaliation for the Houthi blockade of the Red Sea.

A Yemeni helicopter flies in the air while people protest in solidarity with Palestinians and against the Israeli war in Gaza and the recently-created U.S. maritime coalition in the Red Sea, on January 5, 2024, in Sana'a, Yemen.

The Biden administration is reportedly drafting plans to bomb Houthi targets in Yemen amid escalating fears of a wider war in the Middle East, where the U.S. is inflaming regional tensions by heavily arming Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip.

Politico reported Thursday that U.S. officials are “increasingly concerned” that Israel’s devastating war on Gaza “could expand… to a wider, protracted regional conflict.” Citing unnamed U.S. officials, the outlet noted that the U.S. military is drawing up plans to “hit back at Iran-backed Houthi militants who have been attacking commercial shipping in the Red Sea.”

Usamah Andrabi, communications director for Justice Democrats, wrote in response to the new reporting that U.S. President Joe Biden is “pushing the United States to the brink of a new endless war in the Middle East, all because he doesn’t want to stop funding Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempted eradication of the Palestinian people and Palestine itself.”

Eli Clifton, a senior adviser to the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, similarly argued that “Biden’s support for Israel’s Gaza war ties the U.S. to Israel’s escalatory cycle that may result in American soldiers dying in yet another Middle East war.”

“Biden has leverage to call for a cease-fire in Gaza,” Clifton added. “He isn’t using it.”

News of the administration’s private planning comes after dozens of advocacy organizations implored Biden not to consider any military assault on Yemen, which has been ravaged by years of Saudi-led, U.S.-backed bombing.

It also comes after several recent U.S. and Israeli attacks in the Middle East intensified concerns that the region is perilously close to all-out war.

On Tuesday, an Israeli drone strike in the Lebanese capital of Beirut killed a senior Hamas official, prompting Hezbollah’s leader to vow a “response and punishment.” Days earlier, an Israeli airstrike in Syria killed a senior adviser in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The U.S., for its part, has bombed Syria and Iraq multiple times over the past several months in response to drone and missile attacks on American forces stationed in the region. A U.S. airstrike in central Baghdad on Thursday killed Mushtaq Jawad Kazim al-Jawari, the leader of an Iran-aligned militia group operating in Iraq and Syria.

Biden administration officials have said publicly that they don’t want the Gaza war to expand, but their continued military support for Israel’s mass atrocities in Gaza and opposition to diplomatic efforts to stop the bloodshed in the Palestinian enclave has cast serious doubt on their commitment to preventing a full-blown conflict.

“The most effective way of avoiding this escalation is not to bomb the Houthis but to secure a cease-fire in Gaza,” Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, wrote in response to Politico’s reporting.

“But Biden won’t even consider that — instead, he is ‘getting ready’ for a regional war,” Parsi added. “This is a dereliction of his duty to keep Americans safe.”

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