The hands of the regional Armageddon clock strike eleven

Few in Washington seem to little appreciate ‘how deep-in’ they already are. Or, the extent and speed at which their options are vanishing, and are ineluctably tied to the fortunes of Netanyahu and his far-right coalition government.

They must understand — the Biden Administration can prevaricate, and utter more palliatives about Palestinian States and ‘Israeli regional integration’, but the Israeli government is leading Biden and his team down the ‘primrose path’ to a junction where the paths finally diverge where:

Either the US  either goes ‘all the way’ with the ‘Great Victory project’ – attempting to sear a new Israeli deterrence into the Regional psyche (in Netanyahu’s telling), or the US ‘bails out’ quick. (Maybe it is already too late for the latter). Netanyahu is on the verge of crossing Team Biden’s stated red-lines – an attack on Rafah.

There is talk of the US preparing to withdraw all or part of its forces from Iraq and Syria in response to attacks by Iraqi Resistance forces, so senior US officials are reported to say. But is this the White House simply playing for time?

The US edged to the brink of war with Iraq’s Popular Mobilisation Forces when, last Wednesday, it killed three members of the Kata’ib Hezbollah forces, including a senior commander, Al-Saadi who represents the most senior figure to have been killed in Iraq since the 2020 drone strike that killed Al-Muhandis and Qassem Soleimani.

The Iraqi Resistance essentially jointly announced that the assassination of al-Saadi was Iraq’s ‘7 October moment’, and that they were duly committed to driving the US forces out of Iraq. (Perhaps the US already passed the brink and is already over the ‘edge’).

Or, has Team Biden ‘sensed the way the wind blows’, and concluded that it has no option but to continue its embrace of “Israel” — wherever the path may lead — and thus, it is time to remove its forces out of harm’s way pronto. i.e. before the next phase of war begins in earnest?

Netanyahu announced on Friday that he had instructed the IOF to present the cabinet with a plan both to evacuate Rafah’s civilian population (augmented by over one million refugees from the Strip’s North and Centre) in order to “destroy Hamas’s remaining battalions in the area”.

Yet, where are these threatened Palestinian civilians to go? Notes “Israel’s” leading liberal daily, Haaretz:

They are already up against the border fence at the southern-most point of the strip. An Israeli incursion into Rafah will be an attack on the world’s biggest displaced persons camp. It will drag the Israeli military into committing war crimes of a severity that even it has not yet committed. It is impossible to invade Rafah now without committing war crimes. If the Israel Defence Forces invade Rafah, the town will become a charnel house”.

According to Netanyahu, an assault on Rafah is critical to completing “Israel’s” stated war aim of dismantling Hamas. Earlier in the week, the PM rejected Hamas’s hostage proposals as “delusional”. And Security Minister Gallant said on Sunday:

“We penetrated into the heart of the most sensitive places of Hamas [in Gaza] … All these things are the result of deepening and penetrating the heart of Hamas’ capabilities. The more we deepen this operation, the closer we are to a realistic deal to return the hostages”.  

Many in “Israel”, rather, regard a Rafah operation as the final abandonment of the hostages.

Reports indicate that in an effort to forestall a massive influx of refugees, Egypt has over the past two weeks stationed some 40 tanks near its border with Gaza, after having reinforced the border wall since the beginning of the war in Gaza both structurally and with surveillance equipment, and has warned “Israel” that the decades-long peace treaty between Egypt and “Israel” could be suspended if IOF troops enter Rafah, or if any Palestinian refugees (1.3 million of whom are perilously camped in the Rafah area) are forced southward into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Of course, “Israel” can simply use missiles to blow holes in the border wall (it has done so a number of times during the war thus far), enabling desperate Palestinian refugee families to flee into the Sinai. Resistance commentators are sceptical of Egyptian intentions, and question the point and purpose of Egypt deploying 40 tanks to the border.

In addition, Saudi Arabia issued a statement in the last days, warning of “the extremely dangerous repercussions of storming and targeting the city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip”, given the city being “the last refuge for hundreds of thousands of people”.

So, Team Biden finally has arrived at the eleventh hour: Its provocative attack on the Kata’ib  Hezbollah leader — after the Kata’ib movement had suspended its military operations against the US at the request of the Iraqi government — has put Team Biden on a path to war with the Iraqi Resistance forces. It is already at war with the forces of Ansar Allah — and Hezbollah stands ready to escalate, too. There are clear signs that the Resistance Axis is thinking and preparing the next phase for the wider war.

What will Egypt do if “Israel” bombs Rafah and tens of thousands of Palestinians attempt to cross into Egypt? Well, CIA Director Bill Burns has been dispatched to Cairo … to discuss … a renewal of hostage negotiations!

The point is that few in Washington seem to little appreciate ‘how deep-in’ they already are. Or, the extent and speed at which their options are vanishing, and are ineluctably tied to the fortunes of Netanyahu and his far-right coalition government.

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