Washington- “The war in Gaza is much more than just a conflict between Israelis and Palestinians; it is part of a broader Iranian plan to undermine the US-led security order in the Middle East.” This was the summary of what former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said about Operation Al-Aqsa Flood and the subsequent ongoing Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, which resulted in the death of nearly 11,000 people, in addition to the injury of more than 30,000.
In an event after his return from a visit to the Middle East attended by Al Jazeera Net, the Middle East Peace and Security Program at the Hudson Institute, a conservative and right-leaning think tank, hosted Mike Pompeo, who was Secretary of State and Director of the CIA under President Donald Trump.
In his introduction to Pompeo, Michael Doran, a former White House official and expert at the center, pointed out that following the Hamas attacks that resulted in the killing of at least 1,400 Israelis, the Lebanese Hezbollah – which is sponsored by Iran – increased its pressure on the northern border of Israel.
He added that when Israel began its ground incursion into the Gaza Strip, the Houthis – who are sponsored by Iran – launched drones and missiles towards Israeli cities. At the same time, Iranian-affiliated “militias” in Iraq and Syria have attacked American bases there at least 40 times since October 7.
Pompeo said that Israel must fight until it is victorious over Hamas, in his opinion, accusing the administration of US President Joe Biden of following a policy of “appeasing Iran,” which demonstrated Washington’s weakness, which paved the way for Hamas’ attacks on Israel.
Pompeo expressed his fears that “the Biden administration will slow down the Israeli Prime Minister’s government in its quest to completely eliminate Hamas,” and added, “These will be long weeks, and some of the images that emerge from Gaza will be tragic. But make no mistake about it, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a duty to defend his people in the same way that the United States has this duty.”
Pompeo accused Biden of failing to specifically warn Hamas of the consequences if Americans were exposed to further harm, and said, “We now have Americans being held hostage by Hamas, Iran’s puppet, and it is threatening to kill them, and it has already killed nearly 30 Americans so far.”
Pompeo warned that if the Biden administration does not agree with Israel, “and if we do not give them the tools they need to continue fighting until the end, until Hamas is eliminated, and the Iranian regime understands that the Israelis are decisive, and they have American support, then we will risk more American lives.”
The former US Secretary of State called for the necessity of restoring Israeli deterrence in the Middle East region after the foundations of this deterrence were shaken following the success of the Hamas movement in the Al-Aqsa Flood operation.
Pompeo was surprised that the attacks occurred, and said that he had “many questions for the Israelis about how what happened, and how the Israeli army was late in responding? And another question about how Iran took advantage of this American decline since Biden came to power?”
He stressed that it is not possible to talk about the Hamas movement, the Houthi group, Hezbollah, or the militias in Iraq and Syria, without pointing out that the source of funding, training and arming is the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
Pompeo asked questions related to what he called “Biden’s distancing of Iran from any responsibility or participation in the attacks of last October 7,” and how senior American military officials confirmed that “Iran has no operational role in the Hamas attacks, and that Iran and its leaders were surprised.” Operation,” warning the Biden administration against “imposing restrictions on Israel’s military movement, which would mean blaming the victim.”
In turn, Michael Doran believed that the relative calm on Israel’s northern front was due to Hezbollah keeping its options open, at a time when Hezbollah believed that victory would come “with steadfastness, patience, and the ability to withstand. This is what the enemy does not have.” This focus on slowly wearing down the enemy was good news for Israel, according to the spokesman.
Duran added that when the war broke out again on October 7, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu feared that Iran had delivered a strong blow from Gaza to prepare Israel for a greater carve-out of Hezbollah, which is much stronger than Hamas, noting that the publication American forces in the Middle East, coupled with the massive mobilization of the Israeli army, deterred both Iran and Hezbollah “or perhaps Iran never had a plan to expand the war.”
For his part, Jonathan Schachter of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Middle East Peace and Security, a specialist in international security, strategy and diplomacy, believes that Washington has lost the ability to deter Iran.
Schachter recalled what Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told the Senate last March, that Iran or its proxies had attacked American sites in Iraq and Syria 83 times since January 2021, and that the United States responded with force only 4 times.
Now, according to Schachter, the administration is trying to deter Hezbollah and Iran from joining the fight between Israel and Hamas. Washington deployed two aircraft carrier strike groups in the region, and conveyed public and private messages to Tehran urging the Islamic Republic to cease fire. But after nearly 3 years of neglect, the American deterrent threat has weakened severely.
Schachter believed that Washington setting a noble goal of preventing the war from expanding is a good thing, but instead of sending a consistent and strong deterrent message to achieve this goal, Washington showed a fear of escalation. Until the Biden administration shows its willingness to escalate and impose costs on Iran for its aggression, Tehran and its “terrorist proxies” will continue to attack US forces and Israel, and perhaps expand the scope and scale of the war in Gaza, which is the “scenario” that the Biden administration is trying to avoid.