Because of recent escalations by Iran and its proxy forces, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, at the direction of President Joe Biden, is taking additional steps to strengthen U.S. defense posture in the Middle East.
As National Security Coordinator for Strategic Communication John Kirby noted, there has been “an uptick in rocket and drone attacks by Iranian-backed proxy groups against military bases housing US personnel in Iraq and Syria, and we're deeply concerned about the potential for any significant escalation of these attacks in the days ahead.”
“The Secretary of Defense has directed two carrier strike groups to the region, and we are now sending more air defenses to US air bases in the region,” he said.
The United States, Mr. Kirby said, is fully aware the Iranian regime, through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, is supporting its proxies, including Hamas and Hezbollah:
“And we know that Iran is closely monitoring these events, and in some cases, actively facilitating these attacks and spurring on others who may want to exploit the conflict for their own good or for that of Iran. We know Iran’s goal is to maintain some level of deniability here, but we’re not going to allow them to do that. We also are not going to allow any threat to our interests in the region to go unchallenged ... As President Biden has said, our message to any hostile actor seeing to escalate or widen this conflict is very simple: Don’t do it.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that the possible spreading of the current conflict is a deep concern for countries across the Middle East. He underscored that strengthening U.S. defense posture in the region is not a provocation but a deterrent.
Secretary Blinken also noted that the vast majority of people in the Middle East want to pursue a different vision from that of Hamas and Hezbollah:
“They want a region where countries are working together, where relations are normalized, where there’s greater integration, where people are working together, studying together, traveling doing business ... The alternative is equally clear: and it’s very stark: it’s Hamas, it's Hezbollah, it’s Iran, its destruction, it’s death, it’s terrorism, it’s darkness.”
As we work through this current crisis, said Secretary Blinken, we must keep that first vision alive.