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 U.S.-led security system in the Middle East." This was the conclusion of what former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said about the Al-Aqsa Flood operation and the subsequent ongoing Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, which resulted in the death of nearly 11,30 people, in addition to the injury of more than <>,<>.

At an event after returning 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-oriented think tank, hosted Mike Pompeo, who was secretary of state and director of the Central Intelligence Agency under President Donald Trump.

In his introduction to Pompeo, Michael Doran, a former White House official and expert at the center, noted that following Hamas attacks that killed at least 1400,<> Israelis, Lebanon's Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah increased its pressure on Israel's northern border.

When Israel began its ground incursion into the Gaza Strip, the Iran-sponsored Houthis launched drones and missiles toward Israeli cities, he said. Meanwhile, Iran-affiliated militias in Iraq and Syria have attacked U.S. bases there at least 40 times since Oct. <>.

American weakness

Pompeo said Israel must fight to defeat Hamas, in his view, accusing US President Joe Biden's administration of pursuing a policy of "appeasing Iran," which showed Washington's weakness that paved the way for Hamas's attacks on Israel.

Pompeo expressed fears that "the Biden administration will slow down the Israeli prime minister's government in its quest for the complete elimination of Hamas," adding, "These will be long weeks, and some of the images coming out of 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 does it."

Pompeo warned that if the Biden administration does not agree with Israel, it risks more American lives (Reuters)

Pompeo accused Biden of failing to specifically warn Hamas of the consequences if Americans were hurt further: "We now have Americans being held hostage by Hamas, Iran's puppet, and it is threatening to kill them, and nearly 30 Americans have already been killed so far."

Pompeo warned that if the Biden administration doesn't agree with Israel, "if we don't give them the tools they need to keep fighting to the end, until Hamas is eliminated and the Iranian regime understands that the Israelis are decisive and have American support, we will risk more American lives."

The former US secretary of state called for the need to restore Israeli deterrence in the Middle East after the foundations of this deterrence were shaken by the success of Hamas in Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.

Unanswered questions

Pompeo was surprised by the attacks, saying he had "many questions for the Israelis about how it happened, and how the IDF delayed in responding. And another question about how Iran has exploited this American retreat since Biden came to power?"

It is not possible to talk about Hamas, the Houthi group, Hizbullah, or militias in Iraq and Syria, he said, without noting that the source of funding, training and armament is the IRGC.

Pompeo asked questions related to what he called "Biden's removal of Iran from any responsibility or participation in the attacks of October 7," and how senior US military officials confirmed that "Iran has no operational role in the attacks of Hamas, and that Iran and its leaders were surprised by the operation," warning the Biden administration against the consequences of "imposing restrictions on Israel's military movement, which would mean blaming the victim."

Deterrence gap

Michael Duran said the relative calm of Israel's northern front is due to Hizbullah's keeping its options open, at a time when Hizbullah believes victory will come with "steadfastness, patience and resilience. That's what the enemy doesn't have." This focus on slowly exhausting the enemy was good news for Israel, according to the spokesman.

When war broke out again on Oct. 7, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu feared that Iran had struck a heavy blow from Gaza to prepare Israel for a larger cut from Hezbollah, which is far more powerful than Hamas, Duran said, noting that the deployment of U.S. troops 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."

Durran: US deployment deters both Iran and Hezbollah from expanding the war front (Reuters)

Jonathan Schachter of the Hudson Institute's Center for Middle East Peace and Security, which specializes in international security, strategy and diplomacy, argues that Washington has lost the ability to deter Iran.

Schachter recalled what Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told the Senate in March that Iran or its proxies had attacked US positions in Iraq and Syria 83 times since January 2021, and that the United States had responded with force only 4 times.

Now the administration is trying, according to Schachter, to deter Hezbollah and Iran from joining the fighting between Israel and Hamas. Washington has deployed two groups of combat aircraft carriers to the region and has conveyed public and private messages to Tehran urging the Islamic Republic to cease fire. But after nearly 3 years of ignorance, the U.S. deterrent threat has weakened severely.

Washington setting the noble goal of preventing the war from expanding is a good thing, but instead of sending a consistent and strong deterrent message to achieve that goal, Washington has shown fear of escalation. Until the Biden administration shows its willingness to escalate and impose costs from Iran on its aggression, Tehran and its "terrorist proxies" will continue to attack U.S. forces and Israel, and possibly expand the scope and scale of the war in Gaza, a "scenario" the Biden administration is trying to avoid.