US warns of potential wider conflict in Middle East amid Gaza crisis


WASHINGTON: On Sunday, the top officials of the United States issued a stark warning regarding the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas, suggesting the potential for a broader regional conflict in the Middle East. The Biden administration signaled that America would respond if its troops were targeted in the region.

Both the US Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense expressed their concerns over the situation, particularly highlighting the role of Iran and its proxies in the ongoing conflict. They emphasized the United States’ commitment to preventing the further expansion of hostilities.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, in an interview with ABC News, stated, “If any group or any country is looking to widen this conflict and take advantage of this very unfortunate situation that we see, our advice is: don’t. We maintain the right to defend ourselves, and we won’t hesitate to take the appropriate action.”

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken, speaking to CBS News, also voiced apprehensions about the possibility of Iranian proxies escalating attacks against US personnel in the region. He mentioned that the US was prepared to defend its personnel and respond decisively if necessary.

When asked about the potential withdrawal of US personnel from the Middle East, Secretary Blinken expressed that the US did not seek further escalation but remained prepared for it. He stated, “Not at all what we’re looking for, not all we want, but we’ll be prepared, if that’s what they choose to do.”

Addressing the concerns of possible escalation, Secretary Blinken added, “We are concerned. In fact, we expect that there’s a likelihood of escalation, escalation by Iranian proxies directed against our forces, directed against our personnel.” He assured that the United States was taking measures to effectively defend its personnel and respond decisively as needed.

Secretary Blinken also touched on the future of Gaza, emphasising that Israel sought to avoid returning to the situation that existed before Hamas’ October 7 raid. He noted that Israel had no intention of governing Gaza once the conflict was resolved.

Furthermore, Secretary Blinken underscored the sanctity of every life, regardless of nationality or religion, in the ongoing crisis. He mentioned a recent tragic incident involving the murder of a six-year-old Palestinian child in Chicago, a stark reminder of the human toll of the conflict.

While Israel continues its ground offensive to prevent a recurrence of the events of October 7, Secretary Austin acknowledged the complexities of achieving this goal in practice. The situation remains fluid, and the international community closely watches developments in the region as diplomatic efforts persist in search of a lasting solution.

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