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Today, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken began his fifth tour to the Middle East since the start of the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip more than 4 months ago, a tour through which he hopes to pressure to accelerate the steps to reach a truce agreement, but he has other goals.

What makes this new round different from its predecessors is that it is a round in which Blinken is involved in several files, some of which he had previously discussed, but this time he may have to discuss them within one package in which some of them affect the results of others, and some of them have changed in the facts, conditions and circumstances, which necessitate dealing with them. With it in a different way.

The US Secretary's previous tours were mostly a discussion of the course of the Israeli war on Gaza and a contribution to determining its military strategy and outcomes. In one of his tours, he even attended a meeting of the mini-Israeli security government (cabinet), which constantly follows the course of the war on Gaza and makes decisions regarding it.

Paris proposal for a truce

The current round comes 4 months after Operation “Al-Aqsa Flood” - launched by the resistance on the settlements surrounding Gaza on October 7th - and the subsequent Israeli aggression on the Strip that resulted in more than 27,000 martyrs, two-thirds of whom were women and children.

This is a period that the American decision-maker may consider to be sufficient for Blinken’s tour - which lasts 5 days and includes Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Israel, and the West Bank - to bear the broad title of “discussing ways to ensure a truce in the Gaza Strip.”

Blinken with Saudi officials upon his arrival in Riyadh (French)

Before the tour, the US Secretary of State stressed that the humanitarian crisis would be among the issues he would focus on, and media reports reported that the main file he would discuss was a truce proposal formulated about a week ago at a meeting in the French capital, Paris, in which American, Israeli, Egyptian and Qatari officials met.

The new truce proposal stipulates an initial cessation of fighting for a period of 6 weeks, while the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) releases its hostages in exchange for Israel releasing Palestinian prisoners and bringing humanitarian aid into the besieged Gaza Strip.

In addition to allowing humanitarian aid to enter, Hamas stipulates a ceasefire, which Israel rejects, and considers that any truce will be temporary.

Pressure on Israel

In this context, Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben Gvir criticized the behavior of the US administration, and told the Wall Street Journal that US President Joe Biden, “instead of offering us his full support, is busy providing fuel and humanitarian aid that goes to Hamas.”

Israeli Channel 13 reported that the Biden administration is pressuring Netanyahu to agree to a truce for at least 4 months.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also told CBS that Blinken will pressure Israel to allow more food, water and medicine to enter Gaza.

He added, "This will be his top priority when he meets the Israeli government... The needs of the Palestinian people are what will be at the center of the American approach."

Sullivan considered that the United States "believes that it is necessary to reach a humanitarian truce and an agreement to release the remaining hostages held by Hamas during its attack, including Americans."

“This is in the national security interest of the United States, and we will push for this tirelessly,” Sullivan said. “This is a top priority for us.”

Blinken (right) with the Qatari Prime Minister in Washington on January 29 (French)

Unfair offer

Dr. Taj al-Din al-Husseini, professor of international relations at Mohammed V University in Rabat, doubts the possibility of the United States putting pressure on Israel to reach a ceasefire agreement.

Al-Husseini said in statements to Al-Jazeera Net, "Since October 7, we have noticed how the American administration has moved at all levels: militarily by sending both the Eisenhower aircraft carrier and a second aircraft carrier to the region, and it has shown that it is in absolute solidarity with Israel."

He considered that "this type of strong solidarity was also evident at the diplomatic level." He added, "I do not think that Blinken will be as successful as he wants in his mission, because the offers he is making are limited only to the release of about 200 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel in exchange for the release of 35 prisoners in Gaza, including Americans."

He believes that this offer, which is only linked to a six-week truce, “will not be in the interest of the Palestinians at all, because the strongest card that Hamas has so far is the card of these detainees.”

“Perhaps Blinken will try to link this issue with the reality that will be in Gaza after the ceasefire,” Al-Husseini says. “The United States is trying to say that the Palestine Liberation Organization should be concerned with returning to Gaza and taking control of it, and this is something that it may not accept.” Hamas and not even Israel will accept it.”

He criticized the sanctions announced by Washington a few days ago against Israeli settlers, preventing them from entering the United States and imposing financial sanctions on them, and considered this “a speck of dust in the eyes.”

Al-Husseini said, “The true position of the United States is what was proven by the American administration’s presentation to Congress of aid to Israel worth about 14 billion dollars,” and he considered that America “contributes directly and indirectly to the bombing of the Palestinians and to the continued throwing of thousands of tons of explosive materials on the civilian population.”

Disagreements between America and Israel

As for the military and strategic expert at the Al-Rafidain Center for Strategic Studies (RASAM), Hatem Al-Falahi, believes that Blinken’s having to make five trips to the region “shows the extent of the major differences between Washington and Tel Aviv.”

The expert at the “Rasam” Center - a center specializing in Iraqi, Arab and Islamic affairs that was founded in 2012 in Turkey - considered that Blinken’s current round is expected to increase American pressure on the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and push him to accept the proposal that was presented at the Paris meeting. .

Commenting on Ben Gvir’s statements in which he criticized Biden, Al-Falahi said, “These statements come only to remove the great pressure exerted by the United States on Israel to accept the truce and exchange of prisoners, especially since they include Americans held by Hamas.”

The military and strategic expert added, "Ben Gvir did not talk about the weapons that the United States provided to Israel over the past period, nor about the American military advisors within the Israeli army, nor did he talk about the American Delta Forces that supported Israel."

He considered that "there is pressure on Ben Gvir himself from the opposition and many parties, including the United States, because he is considered the extremist party that supports the survival of the Netanyahu government, rejects any exchange or ceasefire deal, and threatens to topple the government if it makes a deal with Hamas." .

Contain the war and prevent its expansion

Another file that is no less important to Washington during its Foreign Minister’s tour is seeking to maintain “stability” in the region and prevent the war from expanding into a regional one in which other parties are involved, especially Iran and the armed movements it supports in the region.

In this context, Blinken's tour comes just days after the United States and Britain carried out military strikes on several targets in Yemen - including sites of the Houthi group - in what they considered a response to the Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea.

The region is also awaiting how the United States will deal with strikes launched from time to time by Iraqi armed groups against American forces and targets in Syria, Iraq and Jordan, the most recent of which was a bombing on the “Tower 22” base in Jordan that resulted in the killing of three American soldiers, which was claimed by the “Islamic Resistance Movement.” in Iraq".

In this regard regarding the American response to the attacks of the Houthis and other armed groups in the region, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in his statements to CBS: “We intend to launch new strikes and take additional measures, in order to send more clear messages that the United States will respond.” When our forces are attacked and when our citizens are killed."

In reference to the possibility of expanding the war in the region, Taj al-Din al-Husseini said, “The Israeli goal is dangerous, and its danger is not only the displacement of the Palestinians and their removal from Gaza, but more than that, Israel wants to establish absolute military authority in Gaza, and this threatens the entire region with flames.”

Exchange of benefits between adults

He added that southern Lebanon "is under attack, and what is happening in Yemen is another not positive indicator, and this brings us back to the predictions of former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger a few weeks before his death when he declared that the fuse of a third world war is not far from the tragic reality of what the international community is experiencing." ".

He considered that “the game is now being played in a way that fulfills all of Israel’s ambitions,” and that the region has reached “within the framework of the totalitarian balance of power, a new manifestation of this imbalance, which is that the major powers today have begun to deal in a way in which each of them exchanges some kind of advantages and concessions with the other.” ".

He continued, saying, "This became clear in confronting Russia inside Ukraine, and in America's position toward Israel, and it also appeared clear within the UN Security Council and in all forums. Perhaps this is the alternative chosen by the major powers for a global war or direct confrontation."

Proxy war, according to Taj al-Din al-Husseini, “has become the approved method, and there are those from the concerned parties who achieve gains, and there are those who receive blows.” He believes that “until now, Israel is the one who is achieving gains in the region at the expense of a defenseless people who have no defense.” From the international community, nor from the neighboring Arab countries, nor from the group of Islamic countries.”

In turn, Al-Falahi believes that the region is now very tense as a result of the American strikes, “and this requires that there be visits by the United States to calm the situation, and there are also active discussions with Tel Aviv about the two-state solution, and what can be done regarding reaching regional peace.” With some Arab countries, leading to the normalization of relations with them.”

Source: Al Jazeera + agencies