US aircraft carrier en route to the coast of Palestine after Operation Al-Aqsa Flood last month (French)

An article in Foreign Affairs concluded that the attack of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) on Israel on the seventh of last month caused what is arguably the most serious challenge to the US strategy in the region "since the outbreak of the Arab Spring revolutions and civil wars" that shook some Arab countries starting in 2011.

The authors, Jennifer Kavanagh and her fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Frederick Wehrey, say Israel's aggression on the Gaza Strip and the heavy loss of life have sparked widespread anti-American sentiment across the region and prompted "Iranian proxies" to launch attacks on U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Syria.

The way US President Joe Biden and his administration tame Israel's actions, as well as the broader geopolitical repercussions of the war, will have far-reaching consequences for regional stability as well as for Washington's ability to confront and deter adversaries in the region and elsewhere.

But while the stakes remain high, this is clearly evident in the influx of additional U.S. military forces to the region over the past month, including aircraft carriers, fighter jets, and more than 1000,<> troops, and the deployment of additional air defense systems to Arab countries that the article describes as U.S. partners.

The intention of these moves involves U.S. determination to deter Iran from trying to escalate the crisis by exploiting its "network of proxies," such as Lebanon's Hezbollah, to launch attacks on Israel from Lebanon, Syria, and elsewhere.

Stoking conflict

But, by expanding its military presence in the region, Washington could exacerbate regional tensions, the risk of miscalculation and the costs that it entails, thereby inadvertently stoking the very conflict it desperately seeks to avoid.

Washington's introduction of military equipment and personnel could also lead to it ending up embroiled in "open" security commitments to an area from which it until recently tried to "extricate itself."

The U.S. approach to "security first" in the region — following its withdrawal from Afghanistan and the end of its combat operations in Iraq in 2021 — has proven costly, in terms of money and lives, and devastating for the region, having contributed to years of war, insurgency and economic devastation, as Kavanagh and Weary put it in their joint article.

Gaps elsewhere

As the United States re-emerges, its extensive military involvement in the region may continue beyond the current crisis, and may contribute to its expansion, creating gaps elsewhere in the long term, particularly in the Indo-Pacific.

Given these risks, Washington's policy toward the region urgently needs to be corrected, the researchers suggest, "and this was true before the October attack, and is more true than ever before."

President Joe Biden's administration has not hinted at any short- or long-term adjustments aimed at addressing the failures and risks of the current strategy. Instead, it has recommitted to a "heavy-foot" security approach based on unprecedented U.S. military deployments and normalization of relations between Israel and Arab states as the basis for a new U.S.-led security bloc in the region.

Investing in partner capacity building

The article advises the administration to invest in building the capacity and resilience of its regional partners so that they can work together more effectively to maintain stability and manage security challenges with less support from the United States.

Only this two-pronged approach can push Washington toward establishing a "balanced" policy in the region that avoids over-expansion, but should reassure its partners and avoid future disasters.

The authors mentioned 3 risks that the Biden administration should recognize and address: escalation, reaction and expansion.

Washington has long relied on security guarantees and military assistance as the core of its involvement in the region.

But the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the waves of anti-American sweeping the Arab world, and the real disagreement between Arab governments and Washington over suing Israel for its aggression are all factors that the researchers consider a threat to erode the foundation of security cooperation between the United States and the Arab world, especially as the U.S. military presence in the region has become more visible and controversial.

Source: Foreign Affairs