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16 June, 2024
 
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Blinken's urgent mission in the Middle East

Hezbollah's vow after tragic killing raises stakes in region

Newsroom

Amid mounting concerns over the Israel/Hamas conflict, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller emphasizes the real risk involved.

According to a Sky News report, as Secretary of State Antony Blinken embarks on his fourth journey to the war zone since October 7, 2023, the drumbeat of tension grows louder.

The tinderbox region faces increased strain, with Hezbollah vowing "response and punishment" for an Israeli killing in Beirut. A Thursday US drone strike in Baghdad targeting Iran-backed militants draws condemnation from the Iraqi government as a "flagrant violation of sovereignty." Houthi rebels, warned by the US and others, face potential lethal force for attacks on commercial shipping.

In another unsettling incident, an Islamic State-claimed terror attack claims dozens of lives in Iran. These deadly events, involving various players, heighten tension, fueling the potential for broader conflict. Blinken's unequivocal message is that escalation serves no one's interests.

This challenging backdrop complicates Blinken's stated priorities in this diplomatic round – increasing humanitarian aid to Gaza and planning a "next phase" with Israel involving lower-intensity military action.

These priorities require time and space not afforded by military conflagration, a sentiment shared by the Americans.

Joining Blinken on his trip, senior adviser Amos Hochstein focuses on calming acute tensions between Israel and Hezbollah. This diplomatic duo operates in "firefight mode," part of the broader "Team America." US diplomacy and deployed defense assets since October 7 have contained conflict geographically, extending the road for President Biden's efforts to broker a political endgame amidst the looming fog of war.

[With information sourced from Sky News]

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