Amidst the escalating conflict in the Middle East, reports suggest that US President Joe Biden expressed frustration with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, reportedly labeling him a “bad fucking guy,” according to a Politico report. However, the White House swiftly denied this allegation, with Biden’s spokesperson Andrew Bates stating, “The president did not say that, nor would he.”
Politico highlights numerous reasons for Biden’s potential frustration with Netanyahu, notably the toll the Israel-Gaza conflict has taken on Biden’s support among young American liberals.
Furthermore, Biden is concerned that Netanyahu’s actions may entangle the US further in the Middle East conflict, potentially complicating Biden’s political position ahead of the 2024 elections. Netanyahu’s purported desire for increased US involvement in the region, as noted by Politico, adds to Biden’s apprehensions.
Navigating a Delicate Balance
As the conflict intensifies, President Biden faces the challenge of maintaining equilibrium between supporting Israel and addressing the concerns of the Arab world. Earlier this week, he expressed solidarity with those affected by the violence, condemning hate crimes and emphasizing the plight of Arab Americans during his address at the National Prayer Breakfast.
This stance can be interpreted as Biden signaling to Netanyahu that the USA’s support for Israel should not be taken for granted.
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The Challenge of Retreating
Despite Biden’s efforts to find a middle ground, disengaging from the crisis poses significant hurdles for the US.
Ongoing strikes against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen indicate a continued US involvement with no clear resolution in sight. Recent actions, including strikes on targets in Iraq and Syria, as well as against Houthi forces, underscore this commitment. Even as late as February 5, the US Central Command defended its actions as necessary for self-defense.
Nevertheless, White House officials maintain that the US is not being drawn further into the conflict. According to Bloomberg, senior US officials argue that these strikes have effectively degraded the groups’ capabilities and hindered their ability to replenish their arsenal.