Biden’s Mideast Policy: A Dangerous Gamble

The tense situation in the Middle East has the world on edge as the threat of U.S. involvement in active warfare in the region has escalated quickly in the new year. The increased tensions in the Red Sea and the spread of armed conflict to Jordan signals another critical misstep in Joe Biden’s misguided foreign policy leadership.

The Red Sea, a strategic global shipping lane, has become increasingly volatile, particularly following the October 7 attacks in southern Israel. The Houthis, asserting their control over a significant portion of Yemen and de facto rulers of the region, have exploited this strategic position to disrupt Israeli operations. This mirrors the dynamics in Ukraine, where a popular uprising led to a change in government.

The U.S. response to the Houthi insurgency in Yemen has been to support a Saudi-led military campaign. This decision has resulted in significant civilian casualties and humanitarian crises, including famine and a cholera outbreak. Despite these hardships, the Yemeni population has not turned against the Houthis. The Saudi campaign lost momentum with the outbreak of war in Gaza, leading to a ceasefire and a peace process led by the United Nations.

The recent engagement in the Red Sea suggests that the U.S. is prepared to take direct action. This move could escalate tensions with Iran, given its support for the Houthis. The presence of an Iranian warship in the Red Sea further complicates the situation, raising the specter of a broader regional conflict.

Critics of the Biden administration argue that this situation is a direct result of a strategic pivot away from the Middle East, focusing instead on perceived threats from Russia and China. This shift has reportedly led to a reduction in intelligence and military resources in the region. The consequences of this strategy became evident in the aftermath of the October 7 attacks by Hamas terrorists in Israel, where about 1,200 people were killed. The U.S. struggled to assess the risk to its troops and diplomats abroad.

A former senior Trump administration official criticized Biden for “ignoring the Middle East completely,” a sentiment echoed by other experts who warn of the dangers of neglecting this volatile region. The rapid Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in 2021 is cited as an example of the perils of insufficient intelligence and engagement.

Moreover, the U.S. reliance on regional allies for intelligence, particularly Israel, has been questioned. Despite Israeli intelligence obtaining Hamas’ battle plan for the October 7 attack, it was dismissed as unfeasible. This intelligence failure, combined with the U.S.’s reduced presence, has left the region more vulnerable to terrorist activities.

The Pentagon’s recent acknowledgment of attacks by Iran-backed militias in Jordan, which resulted in the death of three U.S. soldiers, further illustrates the expanding reach of these groups. Despite these developments, the Pentagon maintains that the Israel-Hamas conflict remains confined to Gaza, a view that some see as overly optimistic.