UPDATED 8:38 AM PT – Monday, May 24, 2021
While the Biden administration’s Middle East strategy sounds good on paper, critics worry it won’t be able to follow through and could unintentionally empower U.S. adversaries.
On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed America’s relations with Israel and Iran while expressing a traditional approach to handling both countries. He said the U.S. is committed to helping Israel defend itself amid recent conflicts with Hamas militants and will continue to push a more than $730 million arms deal through Congress.
This comes even with staunch opposition from progressives, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.).
The devastation in Gaza is unconscionable. We must urge an immediate ceasefire. The killing of Palestinians and Israelis must end. We must also take a hard look at nearly $4 billion a year in military aid to Israel. It is illegal for U.S. aid to support human rights violations.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) May 16, 2021
“We are committed to giving Israel the means to defend itself, especially when it comes to these indiscriminate rocket attacks against civilians,” said Blinken. “Any country would respond to that and we’re fully committed to Israel’s defense.”
He also expressed doubt in Iran’s commitment to denuclearization. Blinken noted that while indirect bilateral talks to rejoin the failed Obama-era nuclear deal have been successful, Iranian diplomats have not signaled how willing they are to abide by a new set of rules.
Diplomats from both sides have butted heads on who should compromise their position first. Blinken stressed America is willing to accommodate Iran’s demands if they show the same enthusiasm for compromise.
“If we succeed in that than we can use that as a foundation both to look at how we can make the deal itself potentially longer and stronger,” he stated. “And also engage on the other issues; whether it’s Iran’s support for terrorism, it’s proliferation, it’s destabilizing support for different proxies throughout the Middle East.”
However, former Trump-era Director of National Intelligence John Radcliffe believes Joe Biden’s approach to the Middle East only empowers Iran. He highlighted the Biden administration’s failure to crackdown on the militant wing of Hamas after a ceasefire ended their 11 day violent spat with Israel.
Radcliffe claimed Hamas militants are funded and trained by Iranian security forces, adding this is a common move for the rogue state. He went on to say Biden is deprioritizing America’s strong relationship with Israel.
In the meantime, the Biden administration is expected to rollout humanitarian assistance to help both parties rebuild from the destruction. Additionally, diplomats from America and Iran are expected to continue hashing out a nuclear deal in Vienna in the coming days.