Antony Blinken: On the US mission to stop Gaza igniting wider war

Antony Blinken meeting Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the UAE in Abu Dhabi on Monday Of all the priorities for US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on his fourth visit to the Middle East in three months, there is one message above all others that he wants to deliver. His main mission on this trip is to ensure the Israel-Gaza war does not spread into a regional conflict. As he flies between destinations in southwest Asia – a packed schedule that includes stops in Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Israel – there is ample evidence, however, that the cauldron of tensions in the region is on the verge of boiling over. Houthi rebels in Yemen have launched repeated missile and drone attacks on civilian shipping in the Red Sea, bringing traffic through that key international waterway to a near halt. The US has warned that it will defend its interests. If the rebels persist, and the disruption to global commerce continues, an American military response may be inevitable – a development that would unnerve some key American Arab allies. “We never see a military action as a resolution,” said the Qatari prime minister in a joint press conference with Mr Blinken in Doha on Sunday. Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said his biggest worry was that such action would “keep us in a loop that will never end and will create a real tension in the entire region”. On Saturday, Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon fired a barrage of rocket attacks on northern Israel in reprisal for what appeared to be an Israeli-planned bomb attack that killed a key Hamas leader in Beirut. Israel responded with air strikes targeting Hezbollah forces in Lebanon. Huge challenges for Israel on its vague ‘day after’ Gaza plan […]

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By Donato