WA few hours after Iran sent first drones and then missiles towards Israel, Washington showed the meaning of Joe Biden's words that America's commitment to Israel's security was “ironclad.” A Defense Department official in Washington said American forces were in the process of shooting down Iranian drones that were targeting Israel. The American military presence is positioned to support Israeli air defense and secure its own military bases in the Middle East, he said.

Majid Sattar

North American political correspondent based in Washington.

It was only at the end of last week that the Pentagon relocated additional warships to the region. Immediately after October 7th last year, after the Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, Washington relocated two aircraft carriers to the eastern Mediterranean. For six months, the Americans have been trying to prevent an expansion of the Gaza war, i.e. a second front with the Iranian-backed Hezbollah on the northern border as well as a direct confrontation with the regime in Tehran.

White House in “constant communication” with Israel and allies

President Joe Biden had already made it clear on Friday that he expected a retaliatory attack by the Iranians “sooner rather than later” for the Israeli strike against commanders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in Damascus. On Saturday he returned early to the White House from his weekend home in Rehoboth, Delaware. After the attack began on Saturday afternoon American time, the president and his security team went to the situation center. Later in the evening, he said the American commitment to Israel's security against threats from Iran and its proxies was “unwavering.”

The emergency meeting with his security team was attended by, among others, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, CIA Director William Burns and Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser. The White House also announced that it was in “constant communication” with Israeli partners and other allies, which probably also meant the governments in Jordan and Iraq, since American forces were also presumably active in their airspace.

Even before the Iranian attack, Biden had assured Washington's closest ally in the Middle East of support against Iran and Hezbollah, despite differences with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his actions in the Gaza war. America's interest remains in preventing a conflagration in the region, i.e. an open war between Israel and Iran. This would also draw the United States into the war.

Iran warned USA against interfering in the conflict

The regime in Tehran announced on Saturday evening through its Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York that after the counterstrike, the matter could be considered closed for Iran. Of course, this is due to Israel's reaction to the major Iranian attack. The Permanent Mission's statement continued: If Israel makes another “mistake,” the Iranian response will be “significantly more difficult.” It is also a conflict between Iran and the “rogue regime” in Israel that America must stay out of.

Can Biden stop Netanyahu from attacking positions on Iranian territory? When Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime fired dozens of Scud missiles at Israel, especially Tel Aviv and Haifa, in 1991, the government of President George HW Bush was able to convince then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir to refrain from retaliatory strikes. At that time, Washington was concerned about not letting Israel violate Jordanian airspace. This would have endangered the American coalition against Saddam Hussein's regime. This time the situation is different: in parts of the political right in Israel, the Iranian attack is seen as an opportunity to finally confront the real danger in the region.

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